Recipes: Joshua’s Easy Shepherds’ Pie

If you want to make a really good shepherds’ pie (*) – look no further! While in other families, a parent may usually hand down a beloved recipe to the younger generation, in our family’s case, my son Joshua has passed this gem up to me:

Variables [a.k.a. Joshua’s ‘magic touches’ which make this shepherds’ pie a superlative one]:

– Add a lot more Worcestershire sauce – just add a bit at first and keep on adding till it has the shepherds’ pie flavour you [will get to] know and love.

– When mashing the potatoes at the end, mix rasped cheese through it. Makes it creamier (only needs butter and cheese, no milk). Also, don’t peel the potatoes. Just clean them and cut them before boiling.

– Add a few cloves of chopped up garlic with the onions.

–  Instead of sautéing vegetables (Step #2), use 2 cans of vegetable mix – carrot, peas and corn – that are ready made [Dutch cooks: from the AH]. Don’t go to the next step (adding bacon) until most of the liquid has been boiled away.


  • 1 ½ to 2 lbs (just under 1 kg) potatoes (about 3 large potatoes)
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 ½ cups)
  • 1 – 2 cups vegetables—diced carrots, corn, peas
  • 1 ½ lbs (0.5 – 0.75 kg) ground/ minced beef
  • 200 g (about ½ lb) bacon
  • ½ cup beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt, pepper, other seasonings of choice



  1. Boil the potatoes: Place the cut up potatoes in a medium-sized pot. Cover with at least an inch (2.5 cm approx.) of cold water. Add a teaspoon of salt. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until tender (about 20 minutes).
  1. Sauté vegetables: While the potatoes are cooking, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a large sauté pan / wok on medium heat. Add the chopped onions and cook until tender, about 6 to 10 minutes. If you are including vegetables, add them according to their cooking time. Carrots should be cooked with the onions, because they take as long to cook as the onions do. If you are including peas or corn, add them toward the end of the cooking of the onions, or after the meat starts to cook, as they take very little cooking time.
  1. Cook bacon: In a separate frying pan/ wok fry cut up pieces of bacon lightly. Add to vegetables.
  1. Add the ground beef, then Worcestershire sauce and broth: Add ground beef to the pan with the onions, vegetables, and bacon. Cook until no longer pink. Season with salt and pepper. Add the Worcestershire sauce and beef broth. Bring the mixture to a simmer and reduce heat to low. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes, adding more beef broth if necessary to keep the meat from drying out.
  1. Mash the cooked potatoes: When the potatoes are done cooking (a fork can easily pierce), remove them from the pot and place them in a bowl with the remaining 4 tbsp of butter. Mash with a fork or potato masher, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  1. Layer the meat mixture and mashed potatoes in a casserole dish: Preheat oven to 400°F. Spread the beef, onions, vegetables and bacon mix in an even layer in a large baking dish (8×13 casserole). Spread the mashed potatoes over the top. Rough up the surface of the mashed potatoes with a fork so there are peaks that will get well browned. You can even use a fork to make creative designs in the mashed potatoes.
  1. Bake in oven: Place in a 400°F oven and cook until browned and bubbling, about 30 minutes. If necessary, broil/grill the top for the last few minutes to help the surface of the mashed potatoes brown.


(*) Very strictly speaking (but who cares, when it tastes this good!), it should be “cottage pie”; shepherds’ pie is made with minced lamb, cottage pie with minced beef.

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