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Shepherd’s Pie with Champ Mash

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This Irish Shepherd’s Pie with Champ Mash is incredibly delicious with flavors of spring and the Emerald Isle. Topping a classic shepherds pie with champ mash takes this oh-so-delectable favorite to a whole new level.

Top view of Irish Shepherd's Pie with Champ Mash with a portion missing

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What is Shepherd’s Pie?

Shepherd’s pie is a dish of cooked minced meat with added vegetables that is simmered in a fragrant, flavorful sauce and topped with mashed potatoes. In Ireland, it’s most often made with ground lamb. Cottage pie, similar in nature, is often made with ground beef.

Now a popular comfort food and Irish Pub dish, it’s beginning were humble and practical.

Top view of Shepherd's Pie with fresh rosemary on top

Origins of Irish Shepherd’s Pie

The origins of Shepherd’s Pie are somewhat obscure. Here’s what we do know.

The term “cottage pie” first appeared in 1791 when potatoes became an affordable crop in England and Ireland.

“Dinner to day, Cottage-Pye and rost Beef.” (Reverend James Woodford, 29 August 1791)

Diary of a Country Parson

Shepherd’s Pie, on the other hand, didn’t appear in print until 1854 in The Practice of Cookery and Pastry by Mrs. I. Williamson.

Both Shepherd’s Pie and Cottage Pie were at first considered a delicious way to use leftover meat and potatoes.

Today, Irish cooks have varied recipes for this hearty and delicious minced meat dish simmered in a gravy of onions, peas, and other vegetables.

What I love about shepherd’s pie is how easy it is to create your own version of this iconic dish.

And whether you serve it for St. Patrick’s Day or on any other day of the week, it’s a dish you’ll find yourself coming back to again and again. Irish comfort food at it’s best!

What is Champ Mash?

This Irish comfort food is mashed potatoes, spring onions, Irish butter, and milk. It’s a scrumptious spring side dish.

In this case, we’re using it to top another perfect comfort food, shepherds pie.

“Champ originates from the Ulster countryside where it was previously made with stinging nettle in lieu of onions, though that practice is rarely seen today. However, there are numerous other variations available across the country, like the colcannon potato mash which uses cabbage instead of scallions.

Ingredients for Shepherd's Pie on a round wood board

Shepherd’s Pie with Champ Mash Ingredients

This simple dish has equally simple ingredients. The exact measurements are in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

  • Olive Oil
  • Yellow onion
  • Garlic cloves
  • Ground lamb (or ground beef)
  • Fresh or dried rosemary
  • Fresh or dried thyme
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • All-purpose flour for thickening
  • Tomato Paste
  • Beef broth
  • Frozen peas and carrots

CHAMP MASH

  • Russet potatoes
  • Butter
  • Milk or half and half
  • Spring onions
  • Parmesan cheese

Ingredient Notes

Some notes on ingredients and substitution ideas.

Ground Meat

I’ve used the traditional ground lamb, but you can easily substitute lean ground beef instead.

Fresh Herbs

Fresh herbs bring amazing flavor to any dish, but if they are difficult to find at your grocery store, substituting dried rosemary and thyme works just fine. My chives are beginning to grow this spring so I garnished the top of the pie with those.

Spring Onions

My market has baby spring onions in the produce section this month and I simply cannot pass them up. If they are not available in your market, substitute with green onions or scallions. Use both the white and green parts.

Milk or Half and Half

I’m using milk in the Champ Mash, but if you love half and half in your mashed potatoes, by all means, substitute that.

Making the shepherd's pie filling and transferring to a baking dish
Spoon champ mash over the filling and bake

How to Make Shepherd’s Pie with Champ Mash

This recipe comes together in three steps. The filling is cooked separately in a skillet on the stovetop. The mashed potatoes are cooked in a large pot. The pie is then assembled with the meat filling on the bottom of a 9 x 9-inch pan or deep-dish pie plate (as I’ve done), topped with Champ Mash, and then baked for 20 minutes.

Step 1: Make the Meat Filling

In a large skillet, cook the onions until they begin to soften before adding the ground meat. Then stir in the herbs and cook until the meat is browned.

Stir in the Worcestershire sauce and garlic before adding the flour and tomato paste, which will thicken the filling as it cooks. Stir in the broth and frozen peas, bring to a boil, and cook until thick. Set aside.

Step 2: Make the Champ Mash

While the filling is cooking, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. and boil the potatoes.

When fork tender, add the butter, milk, salt, and pepper. Mash the potatoes until smooth and creamy, adding milk as needed. Stir in the spring onions and Parmesan cheese.

Step 3: Assemble and Bake

Transfer the meat mixture into a 9 x 9-inch pan or deep 10-inch pie plate. Spread the filling into an even layer and spoon the potatoes over the filling, swirling to make a nice pattern.

Bake uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the mash is beginning to brown and the filling is beginning to bubble around the edges.

Top view of Irish Shepherd's Pie with Champ Mash with a portion missing

Can You Make Shepherd’s Pie Ahead?

Absolutely! You can make the filling and/or champ mash ahead of time, or you can assemble the entire recipe and refrigerate until you are ready to bake. I like to bake the Shepherd’s Pie within a day or two at most.

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Individual serving of Shepherd's Pie with Champ Mash
Top view of Irish Shepherd's Pie with Champ Mash with a portion missing

Shepherd's Pie with Champ Mash

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

This Irish Shepherd's Pie with Champ Mash is incredibly delicious with flavors of spring and the Emerald Isle. Topping a classic shepherd's pie with champ mash takes this oh-so-delectable favorite to a whole new level.

Ingredients

Shepherd's Pie Filling

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 lb ground lamb (or ground beef)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves (1 tsp dried)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (1 tsp dried)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 cup frozen peas and carrots

Champ Mash

  • 1 ½ to 2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup milk or half and half
  • 1/2 cup chopped spring onions
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste

Instructions

Filling:

  1. Add oil to a large nonstick skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until just beginning to soften. Add the ground lamb or beef and break up with a spatula as it begins to cook. Then stir in the rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper. Cook for 6 minutes or until the lamb is browned. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the skillet.
  2. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce and garlic and let cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Then quickly stir in the flour and tomato paste, stirring until smooth with no clumps.
  3. Add the broth and frozen peas and carrots; bring to a boil before reducing to a simmer. Continue to simmer for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the filling has thickened. Set aside.
  4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Champ Mash:

  1. While the filling is cooking, add potato chunks to a pot of cold water that's covering the potatoes by about an inch. Partially cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until the potatoes are fork-tender.
  2. Drain the potatoes and return to the pot. Let them sit for one minute to absorb any remaining water. Add the butter, 1/2 cup of milk or half and half, and salt and pepper. Mash the potatoes until smooth and creamy, adding milk as needed. Stir in the spring onions and Parmesan cheese.

Assemble the Pie:

  1. Transfer the meat mixture into a 9 x 9-inch pan or deep 10-inch pie plate (as I've done). Spread into an even layer. Spoon the potatoes over the filling and swirl to make a nice pattern.
  2. Bake uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the mash is beginning to brown and the filling is beginning to bubble around the edges. Remove from the oven and let rest for a few minutes before serving.

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