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Shepherd’s Pie

by Adam Byatt from How To Eat In

A hearty one pot recipe that everyone will love. The homemade shepherd's pie is made with tender lamb shoulder and enhanced with balsamic vinegar and herbs.


This seriously meaty one-pot meal goes beyond the ordinary mince-based shepherd’s pie: the secret is lashings of balsamic vinegar and the fibrous texture of lamb shoulder. You can mix and match the root vegetables, but be careful to deliver a good balance of sweet, sour and earthy, as in the carrot, turnip and celeriac used here. I hope the extra touch I’ve given this classic will ensure that it becomes one of your family’s all-time favourites.

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2 large carrots
600g turnips
200g celeriac
2 onions
Olive oil
1 x 2.5kg lamb shoulder on the bone (without the shank end)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
500g minced breast of lamb (ask your butcher to prepare this for you)
200ml balsamic vinegar
2 heads garlic
1.2 l Chicken Stock
A few sprigs of thyme
2 sprigs rosemary
1 bay leaf
For the mash:
1.5kg large King Edward potatoes
250ml milk
60g butter

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Peel the carrots, turnips and celeriac and dice roughly into 2cm cubes. Peel and thinly slice the onions.

Make the mash with the potatoes, milk and butter. Peel the potatoes and cut into chunks. Place the chunks in a saucepan of cold salted water, cover and bring to the boil, then boil gently for about 20 minutes until tender. Bring the milk and butter just to the boil in a separate saucepan. Drain the potatoes in a colander, then stand the colander over the saucepan for a few minutes so the potatoes steam in their own heat. Now mash the potatoes with a masher, or put through a potato ricer or Mouli, then fold in the hot butter and milk and beat well. Check the seasoning and set aside at room temperature until ready to use.

Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan/gas 3.

Heat a splash of olive oil in a large flameproof casserole, season the shoulder of lamb with salt and pepper and brown slowly over a medium heat in the hot oil. Lift the shoulder out of the pan, then add the mince and season with salt and pepper. Cook over a high heat until well coloured, then remove and set side to drain in a colander placed over a bowl.

Put all the root vegetables in the pan and brown them over a high heat, then remove and set aside to drain.

Add the onions to the same pan (you may need to add a touch more olive oil at this point) and brown them lightly, then add the vinegar and reduce in volume by one-third.

Put the mince back into the pan and mix with the onions, then place the shoulder on top with the whole heads of garlic. Pour in the stock, add the thyme, rosemary and bay, and cover with a ‘lid’ of parchment paper.

Place the pan in the oven and cook for 1 and a half hours, then spoon the juices over the shoulder and check that the meat is coming away from the bone with ease – it should then need a further 30 minutes to cook through completely. Remove the pan from the oven and leave until the meat is cool enough to handle.

Increase the oven temperature to 220°C/200°C fan/gas 7.

Take the shoulder out of the pan and scrape all the meat into a bowl, fat and all. Discard any sinew and bones. Lift the garlic out of the pan and squeeze the flesh into the meat in the bowl. Discard the garlic skins together with the thyme, rosemary and bay. Now add the mince, cooking juices and onions to the bowl and stir well to mix.

Place the meat mixture in a casserole or baking dish to finish the pie. Place the vegetables on top and cover with the mash. Use a palette knife to smooth the mash down, then make light indents in the top with the side of the knife.

Place the pie in the oven and cook for 15 minutes, or until the mash is golden brown.

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