I’ve always been a fan of Delia when it comes to the classics and her Shepherd’s Pie recipe has never let me down, but I’ve always had a hankering to make it the traditional way from leftover roast. Unfortunately, there never is any leftover roast when my family gets together, and making roast lamb just to turn into Shepherd’s Pie seemed a little extravagent.  This Easter though, neither my brother nor I could make it home but my mum still made my dad his festive lamb roast and surprise surprise (not!), without the presence of two greedy children and their spouses, there were leftovers!  Which were very kindly dropped off as the parentals passed by on their way out for lunch the next day, so that they wouldn’t go to waste.  And waste them we did not…

Hubby is the King of the world slow cooking, his pulled pork is legendary 😉 so I left it to him to figure out how to render down the lovely piece of leftover roast lamb into the perfect filling for a Shepherd’s Pie.  He did not disappoint 🙂 The lamb just fell apart in the pot, and after all that time slow cooking in gravy and stock had soaked up their lovely flavours while maintaining that slightly sweet note that lamb has.  As lovely as Delia’s version using lamb mince is it wasn’t a patch on using leftover roast, and I honestly don’t think I’ll be able to go back to Delia after this, the trad style was just that good.  What a fab last Shepherd’s Pie to end this winter on 🙂

The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed a distinct lack of carrots in amongst the lamb… It was the only thing we didn’t have to hand 🙁 Since they wouldn’t survive the slow cooking process I’d probably dice them up and then cook them off vichy style, and then stir them into the pot of lamb  just before you make the pie up.

Shepherd's Pie Traditional Style
Leftover roast lamb, slow cooked in gravy and baked under a thick layer of fluffy mashed potato.
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Stuff you’ll need…
  1. 500-600g leftover lamb roast (ours was leg but shoulder would be just as good)
  2. 2 red onions
  3. 2-3 cloves garlic, mashed but whole
  4. Enough lamb gravy and/or lamb stock to cover
  5. Any leftover drippings from roasting (optional)
  6. Splash of red wine (optional)
  7. 2-3 tsp Balsalmic vinegar
  8. 1/2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  9. 2-3 tbsp tomato puree
  10. 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  11. 1 tsp dried thyme
  12. 1 tsp sugar
  13. small can of petit pois
And for the mash…
  1. 2lb (900 g) potatoes (Desirée or King Edward, or anything that is good for mashing)
  2. 2oz (50 g) butter
  3. salt and freshly milled black pepper
  1. (Slow) Cook!
  2. Cut the lamb into bite size pieces and put in a large saucepan or stew pot.
  3. Roughly cut the ends off the onions, quarter and add to the pot with the lamb. Peel and mash the garlic and pop those in too.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients, making sure that the lamb is covered by about 1 inch / 2.5 cm of liquid. Cover and simmer for two hours, stirring every 30 minutes or so.
  5. After two hours remove the lid, and continue to reduce the liquid on a low simmer, stirring occassionally, until it’s a rich sauce. This may take another few hours.
  6. Make the mashed potato topping when you’re in that last phase of reduction – Cut the potatoes into even sized pieces before placing in a pan of boiling salted water. Cook until they’re tender and then drain. Return the cooked potatoes to the hot pan, cover with a clean tea towel and leave to steam for about five minutes. Add the butter and mash, season to taste. Don’t be tempted to add milk like you would a normal mash because you want this mash to be firm on top of the pie. Set aside until you’re ready to put the pie together.
  7. Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F, gas mark 6.
  8. When the lamb is ready, drain the can of petit pois before tipping into the pan. Give it all a good stir before spooning the lamb and petit pois into your baking dish. Level the mixture out with the back of the spoon without packing it down.
  9. Lastly, spread the mashed potato on top of the lamb. The best way I’ve found to do this is to use a spatula and spread large blobs of mash around the inside of the dish until you’ve got a ring of mash, leaving a gap in the middle for you to dollop the last bit on to cover – this method gives you an even spread of mash without dragging mash and lamb all over the place. I like to roughly fork the mash topping, it encourages the forked up bits to go all lovely golden and crispy.
  10. Pop in the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the mash is crusty and golden. Share and scoff!
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