Samhain Lamb Pie

With Hallowe’en just around the corner, I felt like knocking up an old classic shepherd’s pie appropriate to the season; Samhain lamb pie. It has the heartiness of that comfort food bastion with a bit of a change up as the topping.

As not everyone knows, shepherd’s pie is traditionally made with lamb while the same dish made with ground beef if lesser known as Lancashire pie. Here in North America, the distinction gets lost; that, and beef is more widely consumed than lamb here. Thus the name shepherd’s is used for the beef version (that and shepherd’s is less foreign sounding and easier to say than Lancashire).

I currently have a good source of lean ground lamb, and as the weather turns colder, I’m more drawn to heartier and heavier dishes. I’ve always enjoyed eating lamb and thus have no problems coming up with ways to serve it up. Being of partial Scottish ancestry, it’s almost second nature for me to season it up and create flavourful meals with this meat that doesn’t get enough credit in my part of the world.

As well, not everyone in my house can eat potatoes, and so I opted to use turnips for the topping of this dish. I’m sure my grandmother’s looking down at me saying, “Thats a good lad, eating his lamb and neeps”. Now, inasmuch as I can substitute them for potatoes, they don’t have the same sturdy structure or binding powers as potatoes. Next time I do this recipe, I may play about with using a thickener like guar or xanthan gum to tighten up the mash.

The filling is quite simple; the main flavours being the thyme and cloves they will impart a robust sweetness on the back end of the flavour. I would have added peas (you can if you like), but I got outvoted; nobody in my house likes them but me. In the video, shredded cheddar is added as a finisher; it’s purely optional. It looks good and incidentally goes well with the flavours below it.

Give Samhain lamb pie a try; you wouldn’t be disappointed.

Samhain Lamb Pie

Samhain Lamb Pie

A hearty seasonal variation of traditional shepherd's pie
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Course Main Course
Cuisine Irish, Scottish


  • Sauce pot, Sauce pan, casserole dish, oven, Mixer or potato masher


  • 1 lb lamb lean ground is ideal here
  • 3 whole turnips peeled and rough chopped for boiling
  • 1 whole onion diced
  • 2 stalks celery diced
  • 2 medium carrots peeled and diced
  • 1 sprig rosemary stemmed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup thyme stemmed and chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup stock
  • 1/4 cup butter


Peel, cut and boil

  • Peel and cut up the turnips into equal sized pieces; put in the pot with salted water and set it to boil

While the 'neeps are cooking….

  • Dice the onion, celery and carrot; sautee them over medium heat with the salt, pepper and caraway seeds.
  • Once they're starting to sweat up, add the lamb and break it down until fully browned.
  • Stir in the flour and let it cook in and thicken the mixture; approxiamately 5 minutes.
  • Add the cloves and the stock; allow it to cook down until thick and semi-firm.
  • Remove from the heat and lay it into a casserole pan; smoothing it level with a spatula.

By now the 'neeps should be ready to mash…..

  • Once the turnips are soft enough to mash (a knife should be able to pass through the pieces with no resistance), drain and add 1 tsp of salt and 1/4 cup of butter. Mash or blend until smooth and spatula it over the lamb and veg in the casserole dish.
  • Can be topped with parsley and cheddar cheese; purely optional.
  • Bake at 350F for 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven, let stand for 5 minutes; Enjoy!


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