Mint and Lamb Shepherd’s Pie

Sweet potato topped lamb and mint shepherd's pie

Fresh peas have recently come into season in these parts and as I passed pile upon pile of satiny green pods at the farmers market, I felt a growing meat pie craving well up from the depths of my stomach.

Freshly shelled English peas

Of all the meat pie variants, I have a particular affinity for the humble shepherd’s pie (which sometimes goes by the name “cottage pie”). Brimming with meat, gravy and topped with a cloud of fluffy mashed potatoes, there’s a lot to like about it. Better still, it’s much less fussy than its pie crusted brethren.

Shepherd's pie with lamb, mint, peas and a sweet potato topping

As regular readers have come to expect, I can’t leave well enough alone though, so I’ve borrowed some ingredients from the British Isles, the Iberian Peninsula and the Southern US to come up with my own unique take. If a Sunday roast and and sweet potato pie collided in a tapas restaurant, this might be their progeny.

Lamb, mint and english peas in a shepherd's pie

It takes a bit of work, especially if you start with fresh peas that need to be shelled, but it’s almost as fun to look at as it is to eat and it has a nice balance of flavours. You can assemble the pie a day or two in advance, so it’s perfect for making ahead of a busy week, when you know you won’t have much time to cook.

Mint and Lamb Shepherd’s Pie

for topping
2 medium sweet potatoes
2 oz grated Manchego cheese
salt and pepper

for gravy
2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs flour
1 + 1/4 C low sodium stock (chicken, beef, or pork)
2 Tbs Cognac

for lamb
1 small onion finely chopped
3/4 lbs ground lamb
2 Tbs fresh mint minced
2 tsp vinegar
1/4 tsp ground sage
1/2 tsp kosher salt
black pepper

1 C peas

Heat a large pot of water to a boil and boil the sweet potatoes whole until a fork easily passes through each one. When they’re done, remove the potatoes and allow them to cool enough to handle. Peel the sweet potatoes then run them through a potato ricer or food mill to mash. Add the cheese and salt and pepper to taste.

For the gravy, melt the butter over medium low heat in a small saucepan. Add the flour and cook for about a minute, stirring constantly. Pour the stock and cognac in at once and whisk until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside.

For the lamb, heat a pan over medium heat and add a splash of olive oil. Add the onions and fry until translucent and fragrant. Add the lamb and use a spatula to break it up while frying until the meat is cooked. Add the mint, vinegar, sage, salt and pepper, then pour over the gravy. Cook over medium low heat stirring occasionally until the sauce has reduced a little and has become thick, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Stir in the peas.

Fill 5 ramekins 3/4 full with the filling, then spread the sweet potato mixture on top. At this point you can cover and refrigerate (or freeze) the pies until you are ready to eat them.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and put in the oven until the top is lightly browned.

  • http://souvlakiforthesoul.com/ Peter G

    An absolute favourite Marc in these parts of the world. I love the sweet potato topping.

    • sprout

      Looks great. In my part of the world (Manchester, UK), a cottage pie’s made with minced beef though, not minced lamb. For the record, I prefer the shepherd’s version. Good work.

  • http://souvlakiforthesoul.com Peter G

    An absolute favourite Marc in these parts of the world. I love the sweet potato topping.

    • sprout

      Looks great. In my part of the world (Manchester, UK), a cottage pie’s made with minced beef though, not minced lamb. For the record, I prefer the shepherd’s version. Good work.

  • http://duodishes.com/ The Duo Dishes

    Love that picture with the bright green peas on a plate. That’s great.

  • http://duodishes.com The Duo Dishes

    Love that picture with the bright green peas on a plate. That’s great.

  • http://kennychiceats.blogspot.com/ KennyT

    おいしいそうですね ^^

  • http://kennychiceats.blogspot.com/ KennyT

    おいしいそうですね ^^

  • http://feedingmaybelle.blogspot.com/ maybelles mom

    One of my very favorites too. We do it with sweet potato too.

  • http://feedingmaybelle.blogspot.com maybelles mom

    One of my very favorites too. We do it with sweet potato too.

  • http://onlinepastrychef.wordpress.com/ Jenni

    I like the idea of the sweet cool mint contrasting with the earthy sweet potatoes. And I’m always glad to eat lamb. And peas. Plus, they kind of look like swirly cupcakes:)

  • http://onlinepastrychef.wordpress.com/ Jenni

    I like the idea of the sweet cool mint contrasting with the earthy sweet potatoes. And I’m always glad to eat lamb. And peas. Plus, they kind of look like swirly cupcakes:)

  • http://www.hollyhadsellentertaining.com/holly_hadsell_el_hajji/ Holly

    I love the topping and the addition of manchego cheese. I just saw some English peas in the store, they were not local and looked like they must have had a long truck and boat ride over here and they were pricey so I will just have to look at yours.

  • http://www.hollyhadsellentertaining.com/holly_hadsell_el_hajji/ Holly

    I love the topping and the addition of manchego cheese. I just saw some English peas in the store, they were not local and looked like they must have had a long truck and boat ride over here and they were pricey so I will just have to look at yours.

  • http://www.deglazeme.blogspot.com/ Christina@DeglazeMe

    Ok, seriously, sweet potatoes and Manchego??!! Two of my absolute most favorite food items?? This looks so delicious — comforting, soothing, warm, tasty.

  • http://www.deglazeme.blogspot.com Christina@DeglazeMe

    Ok, seriously, sweet potatoes and Manchego??!! Two of my absolute most favorite food items?? This looks so delicious — comforting, soothing, warm, tasty.

  • http://www.justcookit.co.uk/ Alex

    Ah, the difference between shepherd’s pie and cottage pie? One is made with lamb and the other with beef.

    Love the idea of a sweet potato topping. Delish

  • http://www.justcookit.co.uk Alex

    Ah, the difference between shepherd’s pie and cottage pie? One is made with lamb and the other with beef.

    Love the idea of a sweet potato topping. Delish

  • http://blog.lemonpi.net/ Y

    I normally dislike shepherd’s pie because it reminds me of too many dodgy staff meals. But I do like your take on the original, especially with the mint and sweet potato.

  • http://blog.lemonpi.net Y

    I normally dislike shepherd’s pie because it reminds me of too many dodgy staff meals. But I do like your take on the original, especially with the mint and sweet potato.

  • http://melanger.wordpress.com/ Julia @ Mélanger

    Love these. I grew up with the ‘minced pie’ not surprising given I had British parents. Like mentioned above, Shepherd’s pie is made with lamb whereas Cottage Pie is made with beef. We mostly had lamb. I think lamb was dirt cheap here in Australia when I was a kid. I love your addition of mint. :)

  • http://melanger.wordpress.com Julia @ Mélanger

    Love these. I grew up with the ‘minced pie’ not surprising given I had British parents. Like mentioned above, Shepherd’s pie is made with lamb whereas Cottage Pie is made with beef. We mostly had lamb. I think lamb was dirt cheap here in Australia when I was a kid. I love your addition of mint. :)

  • http://www.whatdoiwant2cooktoday.blogspot.com/ Jan

    Your pictures are just too much! It’s lunch time here and those shepherds pies look sooooo good!

  • http://www.whatdoiwant2cooktoday.blogspot.com Jan

    Your pictures are just too much! It’s lunch time here and those shepherds pies look sooooo good!

  • http://www.pigpigscorner.com/ Pigpigscorner

    I crave for shepherd’s pie a lot during winter, it’s so comforting and satusfying. Love the sweet potato topping!

  • http://www.pigpigscorner.com Pigpigscorner

    I crave for shepherd’s pie a lot during winter, it’s so comforting and satusfying. Love the sweet potato topping!

  • http://www.SeductionMeals.com/ Seduction Meals

    Wish I could order one for lunch today.

  • http://www.SeductionMeals.com Seduction Meals

    Wish I could order one for lunch today.

  • http://manggy.blogspot.com/ Manggy

    That’d really hit the spot right now- ah, if only I lived somewhere lamb mince is cheap! But, we’ve already talked about that haven’t we? Look at you put that piping bag to work! :)

  • http://manggy.blogspot.com Manggy

    That’d really hit the spot right now- ah, if only I lived somewhere lamb mince is cheap! But, we’ve already talked about that haven’t we? Look at you put that piping bag to work! :)

  • http://allthingsnice.typepad.com/ Syrie

    One of my faves! I usually use potatoes for the mash though. I’ll give sweet potato a try next time.

  • http://allthingsnice.typepad.com Syrie

    One of my faves! I usually use potatoes for the mash though. I’ll give sweet potato a try next time.

  • http://sarahsundefined.blogspot.com/ sarah [undefined]

    oh my…
    i grew up with shepherd’s pie and as a consequence am not its biggest fan… having said that, i think this could convert me… the flavours sound great!

  • http://sarahsundefined.blogspot.com/ sarah [undefined]

    oh my…
    i grew up with shepherd’s pie and as a consequence am not its biggest fan… having said that, i think this could convert me… the flavours sound great!

  • http://blog.american-otaku.com/ alecho

    oh man! OH MAN! Looks SOOOOO good! thanx for this great post and recipe! :)

  • http://blog.american-otaku.com alecho

    oh man! OH MAN! Looks SOOOOO good! thanx for this great post and recipe! :)

  • http://kitchensidecar.blogspot.com/ katiek @kitchensidecar

    nice twist. i like how you are using manchego cheese for lamb. full circle.

  • http://kitchensidecar.blogspot.com katiek @kitchensidecar

    nice twist. i like how you are using manchego cheese for lamb. full circle.

  • http://www.hungryandfrozen.blogspot.com/ Laura @ Hungry and Frozen

    Oh my gosh. If those peas aren’t the most gorgeous things ever. Winter here in New Zealand so it’s frozen peas for the next couple of months!! The orange colour of the topping looks stunning and that gravy sounds incredible. Well done you :)

  • http://www.hungryandfrozen.blogspot.com Laura @ Hungry and Frozen

    Oh my gosh. If those peas aren’t the most gorgeous things ever. Winter here in New Zealand so it’s frozen peas for the next couple of months!! The orange colour of the topping looks stunning and that gravy sounds incredible. Well done you :)

  • http://timeinthekitchen.com/ Timeless Gourmet

    Beautiful pictures, and a beautiful idea!

  • http://timeinthekitchen.com Timeless Gourmet

    Beautiful pictures, and a beautiful idea!

  • http://www.culinarydisaster.com/wordpress Jeff

    Awesome execution and I love the idea. Fresh peas are starting to pop up on my vines so I am trying to steal as many ideas as possible for uses.

  • http://www.culinarydisaster.com/wordpress Jeff

    Awesome execution and I love the idea. Fresh peas are starting to pop up on my vines so I am trying to steal as many ideas as possible for uses.

  • http://megansmunchies.com/ Meg

    Delicious! I love that they are topped with sweet potatoes!

  • http://megansmunchies.com/ Meg

    Delicious! I love that they are topped with sweet potatoes!

  • http://www.gelskitchen.com/blog Sneh | Gels Kitchen

    Beautiful recipe and photos! Gorgeous orange hues!!

  • http://www.gelskitchen.com/blog Sneh | Gels Kitchen

    Beautiful recipe and photos! Gorgeous orange hues!!

  • http://www.figandcherry.com/ Christie @ Fig & Cherry

    Fantastic! I’m in Barcelona at the moment and there’s an abundance of excellent Manchego cheese… I’ll make this if I can stop eating straight from the wedge while cooking ;)

  • http://www.figandcherry.com Christie @ Fig & Cherry

    Fantastic! I’m in Barcelona at the moment and there’s an abundance of excellent Manchego cheese… I’ll make this if I can stop eating straight from the wedge while cooking ;)

  • http://www.sugarbar.org/ diva

    ahhhh..this looks heavenly. i do love lamb but i’m more for cottage pie which uses minced beef instead just cause not everyone in my house likes the gamier lamb. :) x

  • http://www.sugarbar.org diva

    ahhhh..this looks heavenly. i do love lamb but i’m more for cottage pie which uses minced beef instead just cause not everyone in my house likes the gamier lamb. :) x

  • http://simpleelegantdelicious.blogspot.com/ Sean

    What a delicious take on an old favorite. I love sweet potatoes and this is an exciting way to change up an everyday dish

  • http://simpleelegantdelicious.blogspot.com/ Sean

    What a delicious take on an old favorite. I love sweet potatoes and this is an exciting way to change up an everyday dish

  • http://www.tomatokumato.com/ emiglia

    Awesome colors! I would love love love to serve this to people (OK… and to eat it myself :) )

  • http://www.tomatokumato.com emiglia

    Awesome colors! I would love love love to serve this to people (OK… and to eat it myself :) )

  • http://colloquialcookin.canalblog.com/ Colloquial Cook

    I just LOVE how green those peas look :-)
    I also note a dark background on the top picture – that’s unusual on your blog but it works extremely well.

  • http://colloquialcookin.canalblog.com/ Colloquial Cook

    I just LOVE how green those peas look :-)
    I also note a dark background on the top picture – that’s unusual on your blog but it works extremely well.

  • David

    The author of this recipe has it wrong. Shepards pie isn’t sometimes called cottage pie. Cottage pie is made with beef not lamb. Good job though.

  • David

    The author of this recipe has it wrong. Shepards pie isn’t sometimes called cottage pie. Cottage pie is made with beef not lamb. Good job though.

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  • Oeillustrations

    Yes, American person – please pay attention to David's comment and amend your article! Cottage pie – BEEF (or as you refer to it, hamburger). Shepherd's pie – LAMB. Regards from Wales.

  • Lunchbags

    Great blog! Please note that it's Shepherd's pie, not Shepard or Sheppard as you have variously spelled it.

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  • http://www.deebster.com/ Deebster

    I see enough people have commented that only a pie with sheep in is a shepherd’s pie (with other beef pies being cottage pies) that I don’t have to.  Oops, too late.

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  • ByThePowerOfRAmen!

    Dammit Marc, you’re a genius. I am very happy to have found your blog.

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