Lamb & Ale under a duvet of crispy, cheesy spudz


A bit of 3 star pub grub! ©rory kelly

Tweet: This recipe so sharp it cut my shirt!
I’m not going to go all maudlin with this post…it would be easy to do so though…this type of recipe screams ‘learned at the apron strings of my dear old Granny or favourite Auntie’ its the kind of recipe that pops up with the bi-line…’the way Mum used to make it’ on chalk board menus outside awful chain-pubs, which is completely lovely…but not from my corner. Nope – I learned this dish in the fiery heat of battle……with 7 stitches in my hand and a broken finger….

What caused this deep tissue laceration and snapped digit was an argument with a fellow chef fuelled by bad cider and worse stock control ideas….a glass panel and a fire door were also involved.


Vote for me or people may perish!
Vote for me or people may perish!

So with a stitched, strapped and 1/2 plastered lower arm I found myself slap bang in the middle of Saturday night service (death is about the only excuse for missing work in The Kitchen) with some idiot demanding  a Shepard’s Pie…..not a item on the menu but one the owner assured the customer we could ‘spin up’. Thankfully the constituent raw parts were at arm’s length, unfortunately for me at age 19 I had never made a Shepard’s pie before…I wasn’t even sure how many or what bit of said Shepard’s would be needed.

Like a commander in the trenches my head chef screamed the A,B,Cs of Shepard’s Pie construction over the heads of two chefs and a dishwasher across 20 feet of thunderous, steam heavy kitchen mayhem…I picked up about 30% of the instruction and decided to fill in the gaps…mostly with Ale. Surprisingly this is a bolt-easy dish, surprisingly I managed to crank out one perfectly formed crispy unctuous Pie, surprisingly I didn’t follow it out of the kitchen and beat the customer to death with it………………………..



2lbs minced lamb

6 medium spuds – (mashing, not waxy)

1/2 bottle of organic Ale (I used the very wonderful Whitstable Bay)

4 carrots – (cleaned and diced)

1 medium red onion – (peeled and diced)

1 level tbs plain flour

1 tbs Worcestershire sauce

1 tps achovie paste

Salt and cracked black pepper

2 tps English mustard

Sprig of fresh Rosemary

1 small clove of garlic (minced)

75 mls milk

knob of real butter

Handful of freshly grated Pecorino

Fresh flat leaf parsley


Step1: Heat some oil in a wide pan and soften the carrots and onions

Step2: As this is happening quarter and get the spuds on the boil in salted water

Step3: When the carrots and onion are soft add the lamb and teh garlic and brown really well

Step4: Reduce the heat to medium and add the mustard, Rosemary, Ale, Worcestershire and Anchovie paste – combine well season and taste. Finally scatter over the flour and allow the mix to thicken slightly. Pull off the heat, add to an oven dish and allow to cool completely

Step5: When the spuds are done drain them and run them through a potato ricer to remove any lumps and add to another deep pan.

Step6: Get this pan on a low heat and add the milk and butter to the spuds and with a wooden spoon mix to a butter mash.

Step7: At this point you can simply spoon the mash on top of the cooled lamb or level up and pipe it as I have done here.

Step8: To cook brush the spud topping with some melted butter (optional) scatter over the Pecorino cheese and roast for about 20 minutes.

The pie can be kept for a couple of days though (recommended) or oven roasted right away – serve with a killer ale, more mustard broken fingers!

Vote for me or people may perish!
Vote for me or people may perish!



15 thoughts on “Lamb & Ale under a duvet of crispy, cheesy spudz

  1. OMG Rory, this cracked me up! My husband (from Vermont, USA) introduced me to Shepard’s Pie after we started dating 20-plus years ago. He used to use only ground beef for the meat, but now spices it up with a mix of ground beef and hot Italian sausage. Instead of carrots, he uses corn kernels. But all in all the same concept. The only real difference is that he doesn’t make those incredible swirly thingies out of the potatoes (and he certainly doesn’t call them a “duvet”). LOL! 😀

    p.s. it is my assumption that cheesy meant “cheeky” or “jokingly” as I see no cheese in the recipe. This would not be the first time I’ve misunderstood one of your references using the real “English.” 🙂

    1. Nope definitely cheesy….check the recipe 🙂 yer bloke’s recipe sounds great….its kind of steering into Cottage Pie territory. Cottage and Shepard pies are essentially the same thing distinguished by either lamb or beef. Hot Italian sausage sound friggin magic though!

  2. Yowza! This is practically food porn!!!!! Then, when you wrote ‘learned at the apron strings of my dear old Granny or favourite Auntie’ that’s when I knew I had to make it… 😉

  3. So pleased that you ensured that the shepherd is LAMB OR MUTTON, not beef, pork, duck, horse.. And the melted butter on top? Optional? Cmon Mr Kelly! The cheese is the optional but not the utter right? 😘

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