Recipe: How to make The Ivy’s Shepherd’s pie, perhaps the ultimate comfort food

The nights are drawing in, the weather is dreich and it's time for comfort food. That means that it's the ideal time for shepherd’s pie, which has long been one of the most-requested items on the menu at The Ivy. Here's how they do it.

There’s nothing so comforting as a pie. Anyone who’s visited The Ivy will doubtless have seen dozens of fellow diners choosing shepherd’s pie over more complicated fare, while Holborn Dining Room, London WC1, has become a destination on account of chef Calum Franklin’s pies. Bite through the suet pastry of his steak-and-kidney pudding into the rich, melting steak and kidney beneath and suddenly you’re eight years old again, with trees to climb, The Beano to read and Mum about to dish up a delicious lunch — and that’s the point.

‘We play on that here at the restaurant,’ Mr Franklin reveals. ‘There are a lot of guests who’ve been doing million-pound deals all morning. When they’re having lunch, it’s nice for them to have something that can subconsciously transport them to the family table.’

His cooking is heavily influenced by the food his mother made for her three sons. ‘It was simple, homely fare,’ he recalls. ‘She’d make chicken pies, fish pies. Really good, unfussy cooking.’

Recipe: The Ivy’s Shepherd’s Pie


Serves 8

  • 1kg each of good-quality lamb and beef mince
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • Three large onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • Two cloves garlic, crushed
  • A good handful of thyme
  • 25g flour
  • 50g tomato purée
  • 150ml red wine
  • 50ml Worcester sauce
  • 1 litre dark-meat stock
  • 8 servings of firm mashed potato with butter, but no cream added

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Season the meat. Heat the oil in a frying pan until it is very hot and brown the meat in small batches. Drain in a colander to remove the fat.

Heat more oil in a cast-iron pan and gently fry the onion, garlic and thyme until they are very soft (10–15 minutes), but not coloured.

Add the meat, dust with flour. Add tomato purée. Cook for a few minutes, stirring.

Add the wine, Worcester sauce and stock and bring to the boil. Simmer for 40 minutes.

At this stage, strain off about 200ml of the sauce to serve with the pie. Continue to simmer the meat until the liquid has almost evaporated.

Check the seasoning; transfer to a large ovenproof serving dish and allow to cool, then top with the mashed potato.

Furrow with a fork. A little Parmesan can be grated over with a microplane, if wished.

Finally, bake at 200˚C (180˚ fan) / 400˚F/gas mark 6 for 35–40 minutes, until the top is brown and crispy.