Recipe by: Jocelyn Alexander

Source: Delia Smith “How to Cook – Book Two”

Serves 4

This recipe can be made with either fresh minced lamb (shepherd’s pie), fresh minced beef (cottage pie) or minced leftover beef or lamb from a cooked joint (in which case, cut the initial cooking time to 15 minutes). In the following recipe we’re using fresh minced lamb, and what puts this dish in the five-star category is the delicious crust of cheese and leeks.


  • 1 lb (450 g) minced lamb
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
  • 3 oz (75 g) carrot, peeled and chopped very small
  • 3 oz (75 g) frozen peas
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 Tbsp plain flour
  • 10 fl oz (275 ml) fresh lamb stock
  • 1 Tbsp tomato purée
  • salt and freshly milled black pepper

Ingredients (Topping)

  • 2 oz (50 g) mature Cheddar, coarsely grated
  • 2 medium leeks, cleaned and cut into ½ inch (1 cm) slices
  • 2 lb (900 g) potatoes (not waxy), peeled and chopped
  • 2 oz (50 g) butter
  • salt and freshly milled black pepper


  • large lidded frying pan or saucepan
  • 7½ inch (19 cm) square baking dish, 2 inches (5 cm) deep, well buttered



  • Take the frying pan and, over a medium flame, gently heat the olive oil.
    Fry the onions in the oil until they are tinged brown at the edges – about 5 mins.
    Add the chopped carrot and cook for 5 minutes or so, then remove the vegetables and set aside.
  • Put the peeled/chopped potatoes in a large pan of water, sprinkle with some salt, bring to the boil, put a lid on, and cook until they are tender – up to 20 minutes.

Whilst the potatoes are cooking

  • Using the frying pan, turn the heat up, brown the meat in batches, tossing it around to get it all nicely browned. A wooden fork may be helpful here, as it helps to break up the mince.
    Give the meat a good seasoning of salt and pepper.
  • Add the cooked vegetables, cinnamon, thyme and parsley.
  • Stir in the flour, which will soak up the juice.
    Gradually add the stock to the meat mixture until it is all incorporated.
    Stir in the tomato purée.
  • Turn the heat right down, put the lid on the pan and let the meat cook gently for about 15 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 200 C (400 F).

  • When the potatoes are done, drain off the water, return them to the saucepan off the heat, cover with a clean tea cloth to absorb the steam and leave them for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the butter to the potatoes and purée/mash – the best way to do this is with an electric hand whisk. Don’t be tempted to add any milk here, because the mashed potato on top of the pie needs to be firm.
  • Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary.
  • When the meat is ready, spoon it into the baking dish and level it out with the back of the spoon.
    Spread the mashed potato evenly all over.
  • Sauté the leeks in a little butter in the frying pan until slightly coloured.
    Place on top of the potato.
    Scatter the grated cheese over the leeks.
  • Bake the dish on a shelf towards the top of the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the top is crusty and golden.

Download PDF here: British Shepherd’s Pie Jocelyn Alexander