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Lamb Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

Lamb Shepherd's Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

Lamb Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

I think January is my least favourite month, it’s the only month with nothing fun to look forward to.  The high from the holiday season is over as we all get back into our daily grind.  The days are still short, with gloomy clouds and rare sunny days.  Over the years I’ve noticed a significant change in my mood in January, and I think I have mild seasonal affective disorder, or winter depression.  Heading south for a week of sun is the ultimate cure, but if that’s not possible, I retreat to my kitchen and cook up a storm.  One of my favourite comfort dishes to make is this Lamb Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping.

This twist on a traditional Shepherd’s pie is my go-to recipe for a cozy winter dinner party. Filled with delightfully rich, savory flavours that are guaranteed to impress.  This dish can be made a few days in advance, making a weeknight dinner a breeze! Adding Worcestershire sauce and gherkins to this pie was a tip that I picked up from Gordon Ramsay. I absolutely loved the addition of the Worchestershire sauce to the pie.  The sauce adds more depth to the flavour of the meat, a bit of a sweet fermented kick.  Using gherkins in the pie also really tickled my taste buds, their sweet crunchiness cutting through the fatty richness of the lamb.  Over the years this recipe has morphed into the ultimate Shepherd’s pie, and is packed full of some of my favourite ingredients.

Lamb Shepherd's Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

Lamb Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

I adore lamb, and am always looking for ways to use lamb instead of beef.  Besides being so tasty, lamb is also a great source of iron, zinc and B vitamins.  I also combined sweet potato with yellow potatoes for a healthier pie topping.  Sweet potato is an excellent source of Vitamin A, potassium and dietary fibers – something we all need after all that holiday eating!  I also made the pie topping with almond milk, as my boyfriend is lactose intolerant, but if you can find cashew milk that’s even better because it’s a bit creamier.   Finally, I added some liquid smoke to give an element of smokiness to the meat, but this is optional.

Lamb Shepherd's Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

Lamb Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

My dad is of British descent and fully appreciates a hearty meat and potatoes meal.  He loved my take on Shepherd’s pie (but I guess your parents are supposed to say that, no matter what age!).  Also, I’m sure that I inherited my love of pickled foods from him.  The gherkins cut through the rich mince while the generous topping of potatoes is light, fluffy and slightly sweet.  This Lamb Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping is a spin on a classic British pub dish with some healthy substitutions.  If you’re feeling blue this January, call up some family or friends for an impromptu dinner party.  This hearty Shepherd’s pie is a wonderful way to warm up the soul on a cold January evening.

Lamb Shepherd's Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

Prep Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings 6 large portions
Calories 387 kcal


For the filling:

  • 900 g lean ground lamb
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion peeled and finely diced
  • 2 x large carrots peeled finely diced
  • 3 x garlic cloves peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 ¼ cup red cooking wine
  • 1 cup low sodium beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 x sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary finely chopped
  • 6 x sweet gherkins finely chopped + extra for serving
  • sea salt and ground black pepper
  • liquid smoke optional

For the potato topping

  • 2 x medium yellow potatoes peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 x medium sweet potatoes
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup unsweetened almond milk or cashew milk
  • 2 x large egg yolks lightly beaten
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 6 x sprigs of parsley finely chopped


  1. Boil the potatoes in salted water for 15-20 minutes until a knife can easily pass through the potato. Drain well, and return potatoes to the hot pot over low heat to dry out briefly.
  2. Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat.
  3. Sauté lamb until lightly browned. Using a slotted spoon, transfer meat to a bowl lined with paper towel.
  4. Lower heat to medium and add 1-2 teaspoons olive oil as needed to the lamb fat. When the oil is hot, add the onion, carrot and garlic and cook until the vegetables soften and start to brown.
  5. Add the flour and tomato puree, stirring for another minute.
  6. Working quickly, add red wine and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to remove the browned bits. Simmer until reduced by half.
  7. Pour in the beef stock and bring back to a simmer.
  8. Return the meat to the pan and add the Worcestershire sauce, thyme and rosemary. Season with salt, pepper and a few drops of liquid smoke. Turn down the heat to low and loosely cover the pan. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring every once and awhile until the sauce has thickened.
  9. In the meantime, preheat oven to 350C.
  10. Bake sweet potatoes in the microwave on the potato setting until soft.
  11. Press yellow potatoes through a ricer and into a large bowl. Using oven mitts and a large spoon, remove sweet potatoes and their juices from their skins and add to the bowl.
  12. Mix in butter, almond milk and egg yolks. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  13. Add the chopped gherkins to the meat mixture and spoon into a 2.3L oven proof dish.
  14. Using a large spoon, top with sweet potato mixture by carefully spooning in large dollops over meat, slowly covering the entire surface. Sprinkle some paprika over top.
  15. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the potatoes start to brown and the sauce begins to bubble around the sides.
  16. Serve with parsley and extra gherkins.

Recipe Notes

Can be made in 1-2 days in advance.

Lamb Shepherd's Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

Lamb Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

Do you suffer from SAD?  What comfort food makes you happy?  I hope this recipe for Lamb Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping lifts your spirits this winter!

Restaurant Review: Rose and Sons

Chef: Chris Sanderson

Contact: 176 Dupont Street / 647-748-3287 (dinner reservations only) / roseandsons.ca

Hours: Brunch, Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dinner, Tuesday to Sunday, 6 to 11 p.m.

We made the trek out to Rose and Sons on a particularly frigid -30 evening in Toronto.  On any other night the informal 1960’s diner chic look may not have appealed to me for a nice dinner, but on this freezing eve I welcomed the warmth emanating from the cozy shared seating. Rose and Sons is the 2nd of three restaurants that have opened in this area by ex-Drake Hotel co-owner Anthony Rose, who seems to be testing how many restaurants he can create from a hole in the wall.  In spite of this, the food and the experience was indeed distracting enough for me to forget that I had been sitting on a hard wooden bench for hours.

The best value for the meal seems to be the Family Dinner at $50 per person for a four course meal.  Some items are from the Rose and Sons menu, other dishes are from the sister restaurant Big Crow, or whatever the chef feels like throwing together for you.  We are warned that the dinner will take a good 1.5-2 hours, but we are in no hurry to rush back out into the cold and so we prepare our bellies to feast.

While we wait in anticipation for our first course, I try the Sour Cherry Smash which is a delightful mix of bourbon, cherry, lime and soda; a boozy Dr. Pepper. Food Photos_Rose & Sons Review_DSC0382 I was quite happy with my choice until my boyfriend ordered the Extra-Vaganza – a fine looking vodka caesar.  Food Photos_Rose & Sons Review_DSC0385One look at the pickle and kabanosy sausage on top and as a loyal caesar drinker, I felt that it was my duty to try this extravagant drink.  The caesar was a mix, but still packed a great kick, the sour pickle and smoked Polish sausage balanced the spice out nicely.

Our first course was a grilled romaine caesar salad with roasted squash.  I’m usually not a fan of the  “chop your own” salad presentation, but one bite of this smoky lettuce dripping in creamy anchovy dressing and fresh parmesan cheese – and I was hooked.  The roasted squash seemed a bit of an after thought…but roasted squash on a chilly winter’s night is never something to complain about.

Food Photos_Rose & Sons Review_DSC0387

What really made our group swoon was the slice of grilled maple syrup and chili cornbread.  Food Photos_Rose & Sons Review_DSC0389Crispy on the outside, moist on the inside, the maple syrup brought out the sweetness in the corn, while the chili sauce balanced out the savory bite.

Next up was the red chile and pork stew with tostadas and homemade crema – the perfect dish to warm our souls.   The rich, comforting broth is earthy and slightly sweet, and thick enough for dunking the crispy tostados, scooping up chunks of tender pork.  Simple, fresh ingredients including a Mexican sour cream cool the bite.

Food Photos_Rose & Sons Review_DSC0391

The next dish is a deep fried whole sea bream topped with homemade pesto, lemon and arugula.  The delicate fish flakes off into our salivating mouths.

Food Photos_Rose & Sons Review_DSC0394Alongside the fish was a roasted brussel sprout, potato, chick pea and feta salad.  The unique assembly of ingredients turned out to be one of my favourite dishes of the night.  The creamy chick peas and crispy brussel sprouts are brought together nicely by the saltiness of the feta cheese.

Food Photos_Rose & Sons Review_DSC0400

Next we are presented with a juicy 28-day aged ribeye steak.  We are all feeling pretty full by this point, but we weren’t too concerned until the waitress returned back with our sliced steak.Food Photos_Rose & Sons Review_DSC0401

Our ribeye was now accompanied by a puzzling amount of sweet potato fries and garlic aioli. The mountain of fries seemed excessive and unnecessarily overcompensating.  While the steak was well cooked and flavourful, we barely touched the fries which was a waste.Food Photos_Rose & Sons Review_DSC0404

We thought we could handle the innocent looking brownie, our final course.  Until the waitress came along with a silver canister, popped it upside down and poured sweet globs of ice cream, chocolate syrup and peanuts.  We still managed to devour dessert, as you can see.

Food Photos_Rose & Sons Review_DSC0407

Overall we left very full and satisfied, and I love the experience of a chef’s choice menu.

Rose and Sons strives to be the diner with elevated comfort food, but the inconsistent food presentations give the impression that they want to do this with as little effort as possible.