Shepherds Pie

British Pie Week – Shepherd’s Pie


Pie Week

It is British Pie Week that quintessential staple of a good pub menu, and who doesn’t like pie ( apologies if you don’t dear reader ). I want you to think of tender braised beef in a rich gravy wrapped in short crust pastry, lightly poached seafood in an indulgent creamy sauce and topped with a cheesy mash, a rich lamb, plum, celery and port pie with golden flaky puff pastry, the choices are almost infinite even before we get to desserts and a deep filled apple pie with lashings of custard.


Beef Pie

Beef Pie


So whatever takes your fancy and makes you Ap-Pie, did you see what I did there, you should go out and get baking a delicious pie for your dinner and while the weather is still cold and blustery here in the Channel Islands I am going to share one of my favourite pie recipes. Traditionally Shepherd’s Pie is a réchauffé dish made from reheating leftover minced lamb and vegetables in gravy and serving with a mashed potato top. My recipe uses one of my favourite cuts of lamb, the shoulder, which is full of flavour and delicious when slow cooked. If you want to try something a little different you could try topping the pie with sweet potato mash. The Shepherd’s Pie can be made in advance and frozen then defrosted and baked as required.

Shepherds Pie

Shepherds Pie with slow-cooked Lamb Shoulder

Shepherd’s Pie with slow-cooked Lamb Shoulder

2kg diced Lamb Shoulder, cut into 2cm cubes

( Ask your butcher to cut this up for you and to give you the bone )

1 large Onion, peeled and very finely sliced

2 large Carrots, peeled and sliced

2 sticks of Celery, washed, peeled and finely sliced

1 x 400 gr can of chopped Tomatoes

500 ml of quality Veal stock

200 ml good White Wine

100 gr Plain Four

60 gr Butter

6 tablespoons Olive Oil

2 tablespoons Tomato Puree

Large handful of Curly Parsley washed and finely chopped

2 Bay leaves

2 generous sprigs of Thyme

Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

For the topping

1 kg Mashed Potato

60 gr grated Cheddar Cheese

20 gr finely grated Parmesan

 Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed frying pan and sauté the diced lamb in three batches until the all of the pieces are browned all over. Remove the browned lamb with a slotted spoon and place into a large heavy-bottomed pan or casserole. Add the onion, carrot, bay leaves and thyme to the frying pan and gently sauté for fifteen to twenty minutes until the onion has started to soften.

Add the plain flour and tomato paste to the cooking vegetables and stir in and cook for two minutes. Add the diced tomatoes, bay leaves, thyme and veal stock and bring to a simmer stirring regularly. Return the lamb to the pan, reduce the heat and cook for an hour and a half or until lamb is tender and the sauce is reduced. Remove from the heat, remove the thyme and bay leaves and season. Allow to cool and stir in the parsley.

 Preheat your oven to 375 F / 190 C / Gas Mark 5. Place the lamb mixture into an ovenproof dish and cover with the mash. Sprinkle with the Cheddar and Parmesan and place in the oven. Bake for fifty minutes until the cheese is browned at the edges and bubbling and the Shepherd’s Pie is heated right through.

Wine and Beer

What to Drink? Shepherd’s Pie pairs fantastically with classic English Ales such as Greene King’s Abbots Ale or Timothy Taylors Landlord. If you want to drink wine Rioja is a classic partner for lamb if you want something lighter try a fruity Pinot Noir.

Allergens in this recipe are;

Celery  Flour   Milk

Please see the Allergens Page

British Pie Week – Braised Beef and Red Wine Pie

It is nearly the end of National Pie Week*, and some of you may already know what I think of some of these marketing inspired theme days, but in the spirit of things it is not too late for you to roll up your sleeves, don an apron and please whilst not exactly releasing your inner Sweeny Todd, get making some pies.

Beef Pie.jpg


Pies date back to pre-Egyptian history, early pies were flat, round crusty cakes called ‘galettes’ containing honey, evidence of which can be found on the tomb walls of the Pharaoh Ramesses I, located in the Valley of the Kings. The Roman cookbook Apicius has several recipes which involve a pie case, with a sweet filling, more like a modern-day cheesecake on a pastry base, which more often than not were used as an offering to the gods.

Medieval pies could be easily cooked over an open fire, the earliest pie-like recipes refer to coffyns ( meaning basket or box), with straight sealed sides and a top. The pastry was an effective airtight seal and used to prolong the life of expensive meat and was a handy carrying case when traveling on horseback.

Pies remained as a staple of traveling and working peoples in the colder northern European countries, with regional variations the locally available meats. The Cornish pasty is an excellent adaptation of the pie to a working man’s daily food needs.

*March 6th– March 12th

Shin is an inexpensive cut of meat, which is big on flavour, and is full of gelatinous sinew which cooks down to make the most excellent gravy. It is easy to stew, you can also cook in the oven at around 350 F / 180 C / Gas mark 4 and it really lends itself to batch cooking in the pressure cooker and freezing down until required. You can substitute the red wine for a strong tasting beer for beef and ale pie and adapt the recipe further adding chestnut mushrooms, sautéd kidneys or if you are feeling indulgent a dozen oysters just before you finish cooking.

Shin of Beef and Red Wine Pie

1.5kg Shin of Beef, bone removed, meat cut into chunks

( Ask you butcher to do this as you need a really good knife to cut shin

and ask the butcher to give you the bone )

2 large White Onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 large Carrots, peeled and finely chopped

2 sticks of Celery, washed and finely chopped

1 ltr quality Beef Stock

250 ml good Red Wine

100 ml quality Olive Oil or 3 tablespoons Beef Dripping

100 gr Plain Flour

2 tablespoons Tomato Puree

Bouquet garni; Celery stick, Bay leaf, Parsley and Thyme

A generous pinch of freshly grated Nutmeg

salt & pepper to taste

Ready-made puff pastry

(use an all-butter one if you can) or Shortcrust

1 egg, beaten

Place the beef, flour, and seasoning into a plastic bag and shake. Meanwhile, heat the oil or dripping in a large heavy-bottomed pan. Fry the beef shin in batches until browned all over and set aside. In the same pan, adding a little more oil necessary, sauté the onions, carrots, and celery until soft for about ten minutes. Add the tomato puree and leftover flour and cook out for another minute, stirring continuously, before adding the red wine and beef stock. Add the beef shin back to the pan, stir everything together and place the marrow bones and bouquet garni, tied with string, on top.

Reduce the heat and place a tight-fitting lid on the pan. Bring to the boil and reduce the heat to achieve a gentle simmer. Allow to cook for about two hours then remove the lid and allow the sauce to reduce for another hour. When the beef is cooked, remove from the heat and thoroughly cool. When cool remove the bones and the bouquet garni.

To serve, pre-heat your oven to 350 F / 180 C / Gas mark 4 and on a floured surface, roll out the half of the pastry to fit an oven-proof pie dish.

Carefully place the pastry into the greased dish and add the beef shin filling. Brush the edges with egg wash and top with remaining rolled out pastry, crimp the edges and brush the top with the rest of the beaten egg. You can decorate with any pastry offcuts if you want. Place the pie in the oven for thirty to forty-five minutes until the pastry is golden and cooked.

Allow to stand for 5 minutes after baking and serve with horseradish mash and buttered peas.

Allergens in this recipe are;

  Flour   Milk    Eggs  Celery

Please see the Allergens Page