Shepherd’s pie with mint salsa verde

Preparation time
less than 30 mins

Cooking time
over 2 hours

Serves 8

By Paul Ainsworth


For the shepherd’s pie

  • 1 lamb shoulder, boneless and rolled (roughly 1.25kg/2lb 12oz)
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 large celery sticks, roughly chopped
  • 3 large carrots, roughly chopped
  • ¼ head garlic, split open
  • ¼ bunch fresh rosemary
  • ¼ bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 litre/1¾ pints lamb stock
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 250g/9oz smoked streaky bacon, chopped
  • ½ tbsp tomato purée
  • 370ml/13fl oz red wine
  • 1.25kg/2lb 12oz chopped tomatoes
  • 3 large beef tomatoes

For the mashed potato topping

  • 2kg/4lb 8oz potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 300g/10½oz double cream
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ½¼ head of garlic
  • ¼ bunch rosemary
  • ½¼ bunch thyme
  • 50ml/2fl oz extra virgin olive oil
  • 200g/7oz butter, chilled and cubed
  • splash milk
  • 70g/2½oz cheddar, grated
  • 70g/2½oz Parmesan, grated
  • salt

For the mint salsa verde

  • 2 large shallots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 75g/2¾oz anchovies in oil, finely chopped
  • ½ lemon
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • ½ bunch fresh mint, finely chopped
  • ½ bunch fresh flatleaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 100ml/3½fl oz extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 110C/90C Fan/Gas ¼.

  2. Sear the lamb in a hot frying pan until golden on all sides. Transfer to a roasting tin and add in a quarter of the onion, a quarter of the celery and a quarter of the carrot. Tuck in the garlic, rosemary and thyme. Cover with the stock, wrap tightly in kitchen foil and cook for about 5 hours, or until tender and soft.

  3. Heat the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over a high heat. Fry the bacon for a few minutes until cooked and then turn the heat down to medium. Add the remaining onion, cook for a few minutes and then add the remaining celery and carrot. Cook for 2 minutes then add the tomato purée. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring continuously. Gradually pour in the red wine, stirring, and cook until reduced down. Add in the chopped tomatoes and cook until reduced by half.

  4. Take the lamb shoulder out of the cooking liquid and set aside. Pass the cooking liquid through a strainer and pour it into the tomato mixture in the saucepan. Cook until reduced by half and the sauce is thick. Finely chop the lamb and stir into the tomato mixture in the saucepan.

  5. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Cut the core out of the beef tomatoes and cut across in the bottom. Plunge into the boiling water for 10 seconds and then into iced water. Remove the skin from the tomatoes, remove the seeds and roughly chop. Stir into the lamb mixture.

  6. To make the mashed potato, put the potatoes in a saucepan of salted boiling water. Bring to boil and simmer for 15–20 minutes, or until tender. Meanwhile, place the cream, mustard, garlic, rosemary, thyme and olive oil in a saucepan and cook until reduced by half. Strain through a fine sieve or chinois and set aside.

  7. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6. Drain the potatoes well and place on two baking trays. Cook in the oven for 10 minutes to dry off completely. Remove from oven and leave to cool slightly. Leave the oven on.

  8. Put the potatoes in a large bowl and add the butter, milk and cream mixture. Mash thoroughly until smooth.

  9. Transfer the lamb mixture to a large baking dish and spoon the mash on top. Rough up the edges and top with a fork to create spikes. Bake for 10–15 minutes until bubbling and the mash is starting to colour. Sprinkle over the cheeses and return to the oven for a further 15–20 minutes, or until the cheese is crispy on top.

  10. For the mint salsa verde, place the shallots, anchovies, lemon zest, lemon juice and vinegar in a bowl. Mix well and add the herbs. Mix again and add the oil. Season with salt and pepper.

  11. Serve the shepherd’s pie on warmed plates with spoonfuls of the mint salsa verde alongside.

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