Curried Shepard’s Pie

We’re in the middle of one of the weirdest winters in Maine that I can remember. There hasn’t been much in the way of snowfall; no, this year the headlines have described the massive swings in temperature, from one day to the next. As I type this, it’s 50 degrees and there are 50 mile-per-hour winds blowing. The day before yesterday, we woke up to morning temperatures of -6, with wind chills in the -25 to -30 degree range.

I think these weird, inconsistent swings are wreaking havoc on my internal chemistry. Like trees futilely pushing out Spring buds months ahead of time, I’m feeling a restlessness that normally doesn’t kick in until March or April. I can’t decide whether to get a short haircut and buy new running shoes, or get under an afghan with a bottle of whiskey and a bowl (or three) of Shepard’s Pie.

On the nights where comfort food continues to rule, even as the season winds down, recipes like this are all I want to eat. Ground lamb gets heavily seasoned with curry (don’t cheap out when buying a pre-mixed curry powder; quality matters), and then heaped with  buttery, heavy cream-spiked mashed potatoes before taking a spin under the broiler for a few minutes to get everything all brown and bubbly. Left to my own devices, I would eat as much of this dish as there was available.


Curried Shepard's Pie
Serves 8
A twist on the British classic, our version of Shepard's Pie gets tons of flavor from a good Madras curry blend.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
50 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
50 min
Total Time
1 hr
599 calories
38 g
142 g
35 g
35 g
16 g
396 g
181 g
5 g
0 g
16 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 599
Calories from Fat 309
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 35g
Saturated Fat 16g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 14g
Cholesterol 142mg
Sodium 181mg
Total Carbohydrates 38g
Dietary Fiber 7g
Sugars 5g
Protein 35g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 6 yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  2. 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  3. 1 onion, finely chopped
  4. 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  5. 2 tablespoons Madras curry powder
  6. 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  7. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  8. 2 pounds ground lamb
  9. 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  10. 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  11. 2 cups cooked green peas
  12. 1/2 cup heavy cream
  13. 3 tablespoons butter
  14. Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Add potatoes to a large pot, and cover with water by one inch. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are fork-tender, about 15 minutes.
  2. While potatoes are cooking, heat the oil over medium heat in a deep skillet or Dutch oven. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring often, until onions begin to turn translucent. Add the curry powder, cumin, and turmeric, and stir, cooking briefly for about a minute.
  3. Add the lamb, and break up large pieces with a spoon. Cook until brown, about ten minutes, then drain off excess fat. Add tomatoes, chicken stock, and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat the broiler. Drain the potatoes, return to the pot, and mash thoroughly with a potato masher. Add the heavy cream, two tablespoons of the butter, and salt and pepper, to taste. Stir well to combine.
  5. Spoon the meat mixture into a casserole dish or pie plate, then top with cooked peas. Top with the warm mashed potatoes, and smooth over the top. Break the remaining tablespoon of butter into little pieces, and sprinkle over the top.
  6. Run the mixture under the broiler until the top is golden brown. Serve immediately.

Malcolm Bedell is co-author of the critically acclaimed "Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road," as well as the junk food blog "Spork & Barrel," and "Brocavore," a blog about food trucks and street food culture. His contributions include Serious Eats, Down East, Eat Rockland, L.A. Weekly, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post and his food truck, "'Wich, Please," was named "Hottest Restaurant in Maine" for 2015 by Eater. Finally, he finds it very silly to be trying to write this in the third person.


  1. I get that awful conflict here in the UK too. It doesn’t get as cold, but it’s even further north, maybe it’s the lack of light for months. I love your recipe, it’s kind of like South African babotie – but not gross. I’m going to make this with cauliflower on the side and naan bread, perfect!

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