This Lamb and Pickle Shepherd’s Pie is a twist on a traditional, classic comfort dish. It combines tender lamb and seasonal asparagus with a briny pickle sauce then topped with broiled fluffy mashed potatoes.
Homestyle Cooking at It’s Best!
This truly is a unique savory dish that was born from a favorite meal of mine. Every year on Mother’s Day, since I was a child, we have had a Roast Leg of Lamb, pickle sauce, mashed potatoes and asparagus spears. My mother started this tradition and I have continued it. The best part of the meal…the pickle sauce, a recipe that she got from a neighbor. Easy and simple, this sauce is dripping in flavor. Literally! It may sound a bit odd, but the flavors just work with the gaminess of the lamb. My mouth waters just thinking about it!
If you eat lamb, you know that it is not cheap. Hence the special once a year meal. I started to wonder how I could recreate the flavor of the meal a bit cheaper. Well, lamb chops are costly too so I nixed that idea. Then I saw ground lamb for $8 a pound the bell in my head went off! Perfect for a shepherd’s pie. It was a huge hit on the first test! Even the one family member who has always refused to try the pickle sauce is now a believer!
history of shepherd’s pie
What is shepherd’s pie? What is cottage pie? Is there a difference? Although they seem like the same dish, there is a difference between the two as Jamie Oliver explains. Traditionally shepherd’s pie is made with lamb as opposed to cottage which is made with beef. Both incorporate veggies and gravy topped with mashed potatoes. Here in America, what we we tend to call shepherd’s pie is actually cottage pie. One of my favorite recipes is my Steak and Ale Pie. (LOL, I left out the shepherd or cottage in the title!)
The Method of Lamb and Pickle Shepherd’s Pie
Not only is this a unique dish, it is an easy meal that is assembled, broiled and served in one skillet! (with the exception of the sauce and potatoes that is) Perfect for any weeknight, you can make the potatoes ahead of time for a quick assembly.
- ground lamb
- garlic, minced
- asparagus, cut to bite size pieces
- olive oil
- kosher salt
- butter- for both the sauce and the potatoes
- kosher dill pickle juice
- kosher dill pickles
- cayenne pepper
- Yukon Gold potatoes
steps to make this lamb shepherd’s pie:
The most important part of Lamb and Pickle Shepherd’s pie is the pickle sauce so I make it first. Combine butter, pickle juice, chopped pickles, fresh parsley and cayenne for a touch of heat. Melt slowly and that’s it!
Next I saute chopped asparagus in a cast iron skillet. Remove the asparagus and brown the lamb.
Season the lamb with salt and pepper while browning. Add the garlic and asparagus. Cook for a minute, then add most of the pickle sauce, reserving a couple tablespoons of the butter for the potatoes. Add in 2 tablespoons of butter to thicken the sauce a bit.
Finally top the lamb and pickle shepherd’s pie with buttermilk mashed potatoes and brush on the reserved butter. I like to add a tablespoon of chopped parsley and pickles also. Sprinkle on some paprika and place under the broiler until golden.
tips for success:
Browning the lamb is easier if some of the excess liquid is drained off. I find pushing the meat to the side then wiping out the skillet with a paper towel is the easiest way to do this.
Use a skillet that can go from stove top to the broiler. I prefer cast iron for this dish.
You could substitute cubed lamb for the ground.
Asparagus is a nice spring vegetable that compliments lamb well, but if you can’t find it, I would substitute fresh English Peas or frozen baby peas.
I like the tang of buttermilk in my mashed potatoes, but you can use cream or milk instead. For easy weeknight assembly, make your potatoes on the weekend and store in the fridge. On the day you are going to use them let them come to room temp. Coat the bottom of a pot with cream, add the potatoes and stir over low heat until warm.
This dish is special so I think a nice glass of wine or sparking wine is in order!
Although a meal in itself, you can serve a crisp side salad of springtime vegetables like artichokes, leeks or spring onions, peas and watercress.
store leftovers, if you have any, in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days .
If you make this Lamb and Pickle Shepherd’s Pie and love it, I would love if you gave it 5 stars!
Unique Lamb and Pickle Shepherd’s Pie
This unique dish is a twist on a traditional classic comfort food!
- cast iron skillet, 10-12 in
- chef's knife
- Cutting Board
- wooden spoon
- small pot
- medium pot
- 6 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut to 1' dice
- 3/4 cup butter, divided to 1/4 cup and 1/2 cup
- 10 tsp kosher dill pickle juice
- 4 kosher dill pickles, diced
- 2 tbsp parsley, divided
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 bunch asparagus, cut into bite size pieces
- olive oil
- kosher salt
- fresh ground pepper
- 1 lb ground lamb
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp flour
Cook potatoes in salted water until fork tender about 25 minutes. Drain and add 1/4 cup butter to the pan. Add the potatoes back and mash. Add in buttermilk and stir until desired consistency.
Meanwhile, place 1/2 cup butter, pickle juice, pickles, 1 tbsp of parsley and the cayenne in a small pan over low heat to slowly melt.
Toss asparagus with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and saute in skillet over medium heat about 5 minutes. Remove from skillet.
Add the lamb to the skillet and brown. Remove excess liquid part way through to help browning process. Season the meat with salt and pepper. This should take about 10 minutes.
Add in the garlic and asparagus and let the garlic cook for a minute.
Stir in the pickle sauce, reserving 1-2 tablespoons of the butter.
Add the flour, cook about 2 minutes to thicken the sauce.
Top the meat with your mashed potatoes. Brush on the reserved butter and remaining parsley. I also added some chopped pickle.
Sprinkle on paprika and place under the broiler for 6-8 minutes until browned.
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