Shepherd’s pie is actually a variation on an old traditional dish called “cottage pie,” which was basically a meat pie made with beef topped with a mashed potato crust. These days, shepherd’s pie tends to mean a meat dish where the meat is actually mutton or lamb (the thinking being that shepherds deal with sheep, not beef!).
1 pound (454 g) leanest ground lamb
1 large white onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (15 ounces, or 420 g) small white beans,
drained and rinsed
1 1⁄2 tablespoons (16 g) Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon (1.7 g) minced fresh rosemary
(or 1 teaspoon dried, chopped)
1 1⁄4 teaspoons salt, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1⁄3 cup (27 g) shredded Parmesan cheese
3 cups (675 g) cooked mashed potatoes
1⁄2 cup (24 g) chopped chives
2 teaspoons garlic powder
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the lamb and onion until no pink remains, about 7 minutes. Drain the oils, stir in the garlic, and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Transfer the contents to a slow cooker and add the beans, mustard, and rosemary, 3⁄4 teaspoon of the salt, and 1⁄2 teaspoon of the pepper, stirring well to combine. Sprinkle evenly with the cheese.
In a medium-size bowl, combine the mashed potatoes, chives, garlic powder, the remaining 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, and the remaining 1⁄2 teaspoon pepper and mix well. Spread the potatoes evenly over the lamb and smooth out. Cover and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours, or on low for 4 to 6 hours, until heated through. Remove the lid for the final 20 to 30 minutes of cooking time to allow for the evaporation of any excess moisture before serving.
Regardless, it’s a delicious dish and the slow cooker is an ingenious way to do it. We used lean ground lamb, and we lowered the starch (and the carbohydrate load) by swapping out the traditional corn for white beans. The white beans not only add a nice amount of fiber and extra protein, but they also create a really creamy dish. This dish is absolutely terrific for leftovers and even works for a nontraditional (but very filling and energizing) breakfast! Seriously!
The term shepherd’s pie first appeared in the 1870s. The “Cumberland pie” is a version of shepherd’s pie with a layer of bread crumbs on top.