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Shepherd's pie with colcannon topping

This was another staple in my house growing up in Ireland. Because we have such incredible lamb in Ireland, we cooked with it a lot. There are so many variations of this classic traditional dish, I like to keep mine simple but adding a colcannon mash on top. You could substitute the leeks with cabbage, one tablespoon Dijon mustard, or three cloves of crushed garlic. If you make it with beef instead of lamb then it becomes a cottage pie. You can cook the filling ahead and freeze it if you wish and then add the potato topping after you have defrosted it. If I have leftover lamb from a roast, I will use it in this pie. 



  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 200 grams peas, frozen
  • 500 grams minced lamb
  • 1 tablespoon tomato purée
  • 300 milliliters hot stock (lamb or beef)

For the colcannon topping:

  • 1 kilogram potatoes, washed
  • 100 milliliters milk
  • 50 grams of butter
  • 1 leek, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Place a casserole dish over a medium heat and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion, garlic and carrots, then cover, reduce the heat and allow to sweat for five minutes.
  3. Remove the lid and turn up the heat to high. Stir in the minced lamb and cook until brown. Stir in the tomato purée, hot stock and frozen pea’s. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and simmer over a low heat for 15 minutes.
  4. Make the colcannon topping by placing the potatoes in a saucepan – the largest ones at the bottom and fill halfway with water. Cover the pan and place over a high heat. When the water begins to boil, drain off about half, leaving just enough for the potatoes to steam. When the potatoes are cooked, after about 30-40 minutes depending on the size, peel (hold them in a tea towel) and place in a warm bowl. Place the butter in a saucepan over a low to medium heat and once melted stir in the leeks, cover and cook for two to three minutes. Then remove the lid and stir in the milk and nutmeg, and warm the milk. Next mash the potatoes, gradually adding the warm milk and leeks and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  5. Transfer the minced lamb mixture to a pie dish and spoon the colcannon topping on top. Brush the top with melted butter to get a crispy golden finish. Cook in the pre-heated oven for 25 minutes.

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