Shepherd’s Pie with Buttermilk Mash

Shepherd’s Pie is one of those dishes that just screams comfort food. It’s hearty, delicious and family friendly. The rich and savory sauce-coated filling is topped with a beautiful potato mash that is sent for a trip in the oven to get browned and crisped on top. Sometimes, simple really is best.

Shepherd’s pie is made with ground lamb or mutton. The distinction between Shepherd’s pie and Cottage Pie, which are otherwise the same dish – is the meat used. Cottage pie is simply the same recipe made with anything but ground lamb or mutton, most commonly ground beef.

I’ve dressed this recipe up a bit by adding my favorite baby red potato and buttermilk mash on top. I love buttermilk in my mashed potatoes! It adds a subtle tang and creaminess that is just out-of-this-world  delicious. Use whatever potatoes suit your fancy here, but I prefer the baby reds and golds because I can scrub them and leave the skin on. The skin adds a beautiful depth of flavor, and even more delicious potato-y-ness (this needs to be a word.)

Recipe adapted from Alton Brown at Food Network.


Recipe serves 8

For the buttermilk mash:

  • 2 pounds baby red potatoes with skin (scrubbed clean and quartered)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup low fat buttermilk
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the lamb filling:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1.5 pounds (24 oz) ground lamb
  • 4 medium carrots (peeled and diced)
  • 1/2 brown onion (diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (fine mince)
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce (such as Lea and Perrins)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup stock
  • 2 teaspoons fresh chopped rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste

  • Cover diced potatoes with cold water in a large soup pot and bring to a boil. Boil, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender. They should break apart when you push them against the side of the pot with your spoon.
  • Drain potatoes and return to pot. Mash with a potato masher until mostly smooth. Add in butter and buttermilk. Mash again, and stir in egg yolk. Season with garlic powder and salt.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  • Heat a large skillet to medium high heat. Cook carrots and onions, stirring often, until onions become translucent and carrots begin to take on some color.
  • Add lamb, garlic, and herbs and cook until lamb is cooked through and browned.
  • Sprinkle with flour and saute briefly, about one minute.
  • Stir in broth, tomato paste, and worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil and simmer for a few minutes until the sauce thickens a bit.
  • Stir in peas and corn with lamb mixture, and spread in the bottom of a 9×12 baking dish (I used individual cocottes)
  • Layer potatoes on top, starting around the edges to create a seal and smooth out with a spatula.
  • Bake at 400 degrees F for 25-30 minutes. Potatoes should brown slightly on top.
  • Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving

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11 thoughts on “Shepherd’s Pie with Buttermilk Mash

  1. Lovely post. It is coming into Spring Lamb season here in Ireland. Easter is the traditional start of it. Roast leg of lamb is a traditional Easter Sunday roast here in the Green Isle. I might just do something like that and post about it. Your photography is a credit to you.

  2. This looks delicious! I love shepherds pie, but am having to stay away from lamb for awhile due to intolerance. I may have to try this with ground turkey or pork (or maybe a combination). I guess then I would be trying Cottage Pie with Buttermilk Mash. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

    • I love it too! We sub ground turkey for almost everything around here, and have had nary a complaint. The lamb was a tribute to upcoming St Paddy’s day, not common in our kitchen but enjoyed. It will be a lovely cottage pie whatever protein you choose =)

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