Shepherd’s Pie (or Cottage Pie) from Author Katherine Reay

Shepherd’s Pie (or Cottage Pie) from Author Katherine Reay

“Great writers and my mom never used food as an object. Instead it was a medium, a catalyst to mend hearts, to break down barriers, to build relationships.”
-Elizabeth, in Lizzy & Jane

When writing Lizzy & Jane, I had the pleasure of combining my adoration for cooking and literature in a love story. This particular recipe, a personal favorite and one I pull out every fall, is the first meal Elizabeth creates for Jane and her family in the story. And while it is a wonderful dish, in Lizzy & Jane it illustrates the vast gulf between the sisters and is less successful than Elizabeth hoped or anticipated. I suspect that if we returned to the recipe near the end of the book, Lizzy would know just how to “tweak” it to satisfy Jane. But we do not see it again, because Lizzy is no longer focused on the past, but on her sister and Jane’s present needs.

But we can return to this dish again and again. I hope you do and that you enjoy it each and every time…

This recipe was inspired by Joanne Glynn’s Slow Cooking: Not So Fast Food (Whitecap: 2010) – a gem of a book! In our hungry family, this recipe feeds five perfectly. I always serve this dish with petite peas. Enjoy!

Katherine Reay’s website

Katherine Reay’s Guest Author Blog: Appetite for Austen

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A recipe for Shepherd’s Pie, a comfort food classic from author Katherine Reay, paired with her novel, LIZZY AND JANE.


3 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 pounds ground beef and/or lamb (see note)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (see note)
1 ½ cups beef broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning (or thyme or oregano)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1 bay leaf
2 pounds mashing potatoes (use your favorite potatoes)
½ cup (1 stick) butter
1 tablespoon milk


  1. Heat half of the oil in a large saucepan and add the onions, garlic and carrots. Cook over a moderate heat until softened. Set aside.
  2. Add remaining oil to the pan, add the meat and cook until lightly colored, approximately 7 minutes. Sprinkle with the flour, stir, and cook for an additional minute.
  3. Add the broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, seasoning, parsley, cinnamon, nutmeg, and bay leaf and stir. Add the onion mixture, stir and bring to boil, then gently simmer over a low heat for 45 minutes. Add a little more broth if it becomes dry. Remove bay leaf.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Peel the potatoes and cut into 1-inch pieces. Place potatoes into a large saucepan of salted water and bring to boil. Cook over moderate heat for 15-20 minutes or until soft. Drain potatoes, return them to the pan, add butter, and mash with a little milk. The mash needs to remain firm. Beat with a wooden spoon to make potatoes fluffy.
  5. Spoon the meat filling into a lasagna size pan. Spread the mash over the top. Fluff the mash with a fork. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the topping is golden.


In my novel, LIZZY & JANE and in my house, lamb (making it Shepherd’s Pie) or a combination of beef and lamb (making, perhaps, “Shepage” Pie) is used. Any meat combination is yummy.

Also, my middle child eats gluten-free so I substitute a gluten-free flour for the all-purpose and it too works beautifully.