Make Ahead

Shepherd's Pie with Sweet Potato Mash

January 21, 2013
3.7 Stars
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 4
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed well
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 pound ground lamb (or beef), not too lean
  • Salt
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 cup beef stock or water
In This Recipe
  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees and use 1 tablespoon of the butter to grease a 1 1/2-quart baking dish. Rub the sweet potatoes with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and pierce each one a few times with a sharp fork. Wrap them in aluminum foil and bake until tender, about an hour.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the ground lamb and a couple pinches of salt and brown, stirring frequently, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the meat to a plate with a slotted spoon and turn the heat down to medium-low.
  3. Add the onion and carrot to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for another 2 minutes. Stir the meat back into the pan.
  5. Add the stock or water and a couple more pinches of salt and raise the heat under the pan to bring the liquid to a boil. Cover the pan, lower the heat and simmer very gently, stirring every once in a while, until the mixture is thick but still a bit saucy, 10 to 15 minutes. Add more salt if necessary, and set this aside to cool a little while you finish the potatoes.
  6. When the potatoes are tender, remove them from the oven and turn the oven temperature up to 425 degrees. Carefully unwrap the foil and slit the potatoes down the middle, Scoop out the flesh with a spoon, putting it into a heatproof bowl. Using a wooden spoon, beat in the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil until you have a smooth, silky mash. Add salt to taste.
  7. Transfer the meat to the buttered baking dish, smoothing the top. Spread the mashed sweet potatoes over the top, using a spatula to gently work it out to the edges of the dish and cover all of the meat.
  8. Dot the top of the potatoes with the remaining tablespoon of butter and set the dish on a baking sheet with high sides to catch any spillover. Bake the cottage pie until it is heated through, and the top begins to brown, 10 to 15 minutes. (You can use the broiler at the end to get a little more color on the potatoes if you'd like.) Let cool for a few minutes before serving.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Mae
  • Artcat
  • walkie74
  • Sarah Sturgis
    Sarah Sturgis
  • CarlaCooks

11 Reviews

iolanthe November 12, 2020
Very tasty. I used puréed winter squash instead of sweet potatoes; ground beef; ~1.5 cups carrots; no butter. I don't think it needs additional spices, at least with this combination of vegetables.
Mae November 15, 2017
Yum! I used mashed chickpeas instead of lamb (about 2 heaping cups whole chickpeas, pulsed in the food processor). I added a bit of soy sauce to the chickpea, carrot, and onion mixture. So yummy, and it held together really well!
brbarrett April 30, 2017
This has become a weekly staple for us. We double the recipe, making it in a large cast iron skillet so we can assemble the pie in it and throw it in the oven – dinner and lunches. Thanks!
Gretchen S. December 6, 2016
I wasn't prepared to like this as much as I did, but with ground lamb and sweet potatoes on hand, it seemed like a good enough fit. It was actually quite delicious and a definite make again. The lamb seemed to mellow out the sweet potatoes and vice versa. The recipe did not note to remove any fat. Perhaps the lamb I had was particularly savory, but I removed about half, leaving 2-3 tablespoons. I also added peas and thyme just because I wanted a little bit of complementary color and I would make this adaption again.
Artcat November 28, 2016
Ei made this with ground beef, leftover thanksgiving potatoes, and added peas and celery to the veggies. Also added some thyme to the meat. (Our Irish any always added peas...) I topped the potatoes with some grated cheddar. Yummy!
rebecca H. January 26, 2015
I made this for dinner tonight. I put it under the broiler as suggested, this added an amazing caramelized flavor to the sweet potatoes. I loved it. My husband said he prefers the dish with regular potatoes. Thank you for the recipe.
walkie74 August 14, 2013
I ended up using this recipe as an example of how not to write a directional paragraph. Don't get me wrong, it was delicious, but I ended up with a bowl of veggies as a side dish. C'mon Merrill, I know you're better than this! ;)
Merrill S. August 14, 2013
As a teacher, you must be used to your students making the occasional mistake -- we are all human! Thank you for pointing out that I forgot the step of adding the meat back to sautéed vegetables. The recipe has been corrected.
walkie74 April 6, 2014
Thanks for being a good sport, Merrill. And I'm particularly glad you fixed the recipe--now I can save it and show it to my students again!
Sarah S. January 24, 2013
This was delicious. I added allspice and cinnamon to the ground beef and simply cooked the carrots and onions in a little butter (or a lot) and then added the beef. Will be making this again FOR SURE. Very tasty the next day with a fried egg.
CarlaCooks January 23, 2013
Looks good! Quick question: are you suppose to add the meat back to the sauce at some point?