Shepherds (or Cottage) Pie with Cheese and Leek Topping

A featured Wine Club recipe for Odonata Wines.
Shepherds (or Cottage) Pie with Cheese and Leek Topping


The complex flavors of this dish pair delightfully with Petite Sirah.

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 90 Minutes


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

For the topping:
• 4 oz (100 g) sharp Cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
• 2 medium leeks, cleaned and cut into ½ inch (1 cm) slices
• 2 lb (900 g) Yukon Gold potatoes
• 2 oz (50 g) butter
• salt and freshly milled black pepper


1. Place a sauté pan over medium heat and add the olive oil.

2. Now sauté the onions in the hot oil until they are tinged brown at the edges – about 5 minutes. Add the chopped carrot and rutabaga and cook for 5 minutes, then remove the vegetables and put them to one side. Now turn the heat up and brown the meat in batches, tossing it around to get it all nicely browned. You may find a wooden fork helpful here, as it helps to break up the chunks. Season the meat with salt and pepper. Add the cooked vegetables, cinnamon, thyme and parsley.

3. Stir in the flour to soak up the juice, then gradually add the stock to the meat mixture until it is all incorporated. Finally, stir in the tomato paste. Turn the heat to low, put the lid on the pan and let it cook gently for about 30 minutes.

4. While the meat is cooking, make the topping. Peel the potatoes, cut them into even-sized pieces and place in a steamer fitted over a large pan of boiling water. Sprinkle with some salt, put a lid on and steam until they're completely tender – about 25 minutes. While this is happening, pre-heat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

5. When the potatoes are done, drain off the water, return them to the saucepan, cover with a clean towel to absorb the steam and leave them for about 5 minutes. Next, add the butter and mash them to a purée – the best way to do this is with an electric hand whisk. Don't add milk because the mashed potato needs to be firm.

6. 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 over the meat. Sprinkle the leeks on top of the potato, scatter the cheese over the leeks and bake on a high shelf of the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the top is crusty and golden.

Recipe sourced from Odonata Wines