Benji’s birthday was a couple of months ago, and when the big day arrived, his birthday request was Shepherd’s Pie and Aunt Tina’s Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Just to clarify, in case the shepherd’s pie didn’t tip you off, Benji is the British contingent of the Thomas family.  Married to my cousin Erica, and soon to be dad to the first baby the Thomas family has had in 19 years, we love him, his colorful socks, and that bone-dry British wit.

Shepherd’s Pie is basically meat pie, but instead of being cradled in pastry, it’s topped with mashed potatoes, baked until golden brown and crunchy on top. Another thing to mention: if you replace lamb for beef (like I did for Benji), it’s called Cottage Pie.  It’s exactly the same recipe, but Shepherd’s are more likely to eat lamb and I guess Cottage-dwellers are more likely to eat beef, or something like that.  It doesn’t really matter though, because whether you like yours with lamb, beef, or all vegetables, it so delicious and home-y.  Rich, hearty, and with crunchy mashed potatoes baked on top, It’ll make you excited that the British are coming! (Ok, I’m so sorry about that Paul Revere reference/pun thing, but I hope you enjoy the Shepherd’s pie anyway 🙂 ).




1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes

1/4 cup half-and-half

2 ounces unsalted butter


2 tablespoons butter

1 cup chopped onion

1 1/2 cups carrots, peeled and diced small

3/4 cup celery stalk, peeled and diced small

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons flour

1 1/2 pounds ground lamb or beef

2 teaspoons tomato paste

1/2 cup beef broth

1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons freshly chopped rosemary leaves

1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves

1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped

1/2 cup fresh or frozen english peas


3/4 pounds russet potatoes

1/4 cup half-and-half

1 ounces unsalted butter

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 carrots, peeled and diced small

1/2 celery stalk, peeled and diced small

1 parsnip

1 1/2 cup butternut squash, chopped

1 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon tomato paste

1/4 cup vegetable broth

1/2 teaspoon worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon freshly chopped rosemary leaves

1/2 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves

1/2 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped

1/2 cup fresh or frozen english peas


Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch dice. Place in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Set over high heat, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, uncover, decrease the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until tender and easily crushed with tongs, approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat up the half and half and butter in a sauce pan until steaming. Drain the potatoes in a colander and then press through a ricer or food mill into the saucepan. Add the half and half, butter, and salt and pepper to taste, and continue to stir until smooth. Cover with lid while you get the rest

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the filling. Place the butter into a 12-inch sauté pan and set over medium high heat. Add the onion and sauté just until they begin to take on color, approximately 10-15 minutes. Add the garlic, carrots and celery and stir to combine. Add the meat, sprinkle with flour, salt and pepper and cook until browned and cooked through, approximately 5 minutes.  Add the tomato paste, broth, Worcestershire, parsley, rosemary, thyme, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly for 10 minutes or until the sauce is thickened slightly.

Add the peas to the meat mixture and spread evenly into an 11 by 7-inch baking dish. Top with the mashed potatoes, starting around the edges to create a seal to prevent the mixture from bubbling up and smooth with a rubber spatula. Place on a parchment lined half sheet pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 20 minutes and broil for 5, just until the potatoes begin to brown. Remove to a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.