Comfort for a cold day

It’s rapidly sliding into winter here, even though we have most of a month left of autumn. I should be used to this, but after growing up in the sunny shores of Perth, where autumn slowly drifts into winter in early June, it can be hard.

Naturally, my thoughts turn to winter foods—thick hearty soups, tasty stews and slow-roasted dinners. I’ve even dragged out the slow cooker! But this particular meal, shepherd’s pie, was a bit of a winner with my young family. Both girls declared it DELICIOUS and polished off a large bowlful.

Traditionally, shepherd’s pie is made with lamb, quite often with leftover lamb from a roast, but equally as tasty from lamb mince. If you use beef, it’s cottage pie. It’s a complete meal in a bowl, with plenty of vegetables and of course the generous topper of mashed potatoes. It works equally well as a big family sized pie or prepared in individual pie plates. It’s not a particularly photogenic dish, but it certainly warms the soul.

And next time I make it, I think I’ll play a bit more with the recipe—maybe add some rosemary, and definitely some garlic. I’ll let you know how it turns out!

Shepherd’s pie

Adapted from Modern Classics Volume 1, by Donna Hay

Serves 4-6

1 Tbs olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
600g lamb mince
2 Tbs tomato paste
400g can peeled italian tomatoes
1 c beef stock
1 fresh bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
1 c frozen peas
sea salt and cracked black pepper
1kg potatoes, peeled and quartered
75g butter
1/4 c milk
1/2 c grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 190C.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. Cook the onion and carrot for about 5 minutes until soft and golden. Add the mince and cook for 3 minutes until browned. Stir through the tomato paste and tomatoes, the stock, bay leaf and thyme and bring to a simmer.

Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, then add the peas and simmer uncovered for a further 15 minutes, or until liquid has evaporated. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper.

While the meat mixture is cooking, add the potatoes to cold water and bring to a boil. Gently boil until the potatoes are soft.

Drain and mash with the butter and milk, then stir through the parmesan.

Spoon the meat mixture into a 4-cup capacity ovenproof dish and top with mashed potato. Bake for 35 minutes until potato is golden brown.


1. It’s a good idea to use a tray underneath the dish while it’s in the oven, as it can bubble over from underneath the mashed potatoes.

2. This can also be be made in individual servings using small dishes.

2 thoughts on “Comfort for a cold day”

  1. Yummo Liss! And yes finally someone who makes the distinction of beef making it cottage pie! Its one of my minor irks hearing it incorrectly named 😉

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