The Best Gordon Ramsay's Shepherd's Pie With Twist

Any fan of Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares most likely remembers him scoffing at the "shepherd's pie" he was served at the Grasshopper, which was actually a cottage pie. The difference between the two is shepherd's pie traditionally contains ground lamb, while cottage pie is typically filled with beef (via Home Is A Kitchen). Overall, Ramsay didn't like the pie that was served to him, which was topped with gravy, which just so happened to be cold. He deemed it "gross" and "watery."

Recipe developer Keith Kamikawa has come up with his own creative version of shepherd's pie using venison. Kamikawa's unique approach to Ramsay's original recipe boasts a "hunter's twist" that adds depth of flavor to the classic, using a game meat that's fairly easy to come by.

"I live in Wisconsin so everybody knows somebody who hunts," explains Kamikawa. "My brother hunts and has venison on hand most of the time." Kamikawa keeps some traditional English elements of the original recipe, adding root veggie rutabaga to the potato topping. The result is rich and delicious: a fun twist on Ramsay's classic shepherd's pie that perhaps even Ramsay would approve of.

What we changed in Gordon Ramsay's shepherd's pie recipe

Kamikawa made two major changes to Gordon Ramsay's original shepherd's pie recipe in concocting this version.

First up, he swaps out the lamb for venison, which he dubs "a wonderful meat."

"It's lean, has a bit of a grassy flavor, and is similar to beef but lighter," he explains, noting, "The flavor can subtly change, like any meat, depending on the diet of the deer."

The addition of rutabaga to the potato in Ramsey's crust brings out the natural sweetness of the venison, with "a touch of earthy bitterness" that Kamikawa says works great with any game meat.

Gather the ingredients for the shepherd's pie topping

This shepherd's pie begins with the topping. To make it, you'll need equal amounts (by weight) of potatoes and rutabaga, peeled and diced into large cubes, which will cook more quickly and evenly than whole potatoes or rutabaga. You'll also need salt for the cooking water as well as to season the finished mash, along with a touch of black pepper. Egg yolks and butter add richness and heft to the topping. The Parmesan cheese adds a delightful nuttiness and helps the top become golden brown under the broiler.

Make the shepherd's pie topping

Once your ingredients are assembled, it's time to get cooking. Combine the diced potato and rutabaga in a large pot, and add enough water just to cover. Season with a tablespoon of kosher salt, which will season the veggies inside and out as they simmer for between ten and 12 minutes, or until tender enough that a fork slides in easily. 

Meanwhile, melt 4 ounces of the butter. When the veggies are cooked, drain them and mash them with the butter as well as the egg yolks and 4 of the 6 ounces of shredded Parmesan (or ⅔ by volume). Season with 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper, then set aside.

Gather the ingredients for the shepherd's pie filling

With the topping made, it's time to make the filling for the shepherd's pie. The key ingredient, of course, is venison. If you don't have a brother who's a hunter like Kamikawa, he suggests trying "hunting" for venison on local neighborhood Facebook pages.

"Reach out to your community," he suggests. "I'm sure there are tons of hunters who'd love to share what they harvested." And if hunters are thin on the ground in your neck of the woods, you can always opt for farmer's markets or commercial deer farms to source the venison.

To transform the venison into a luscious stew, you'll need olive oil, tomato paste, chicken broth, red wine, Worcestershire sauce, aromatic garlic, thyme, and rosemary. You'll also add grated carrot and onion, which will melt right into the mixture. And if you'd like, you can add a tablespoon of flour, just to help the gravy thicken up.

Make the shepherd's pie filling

Start making the shepherd's pie filling by heating 2 tablespoons of oil in a sauté pan — preferably cast iron, which will have the added bonuses of not only dirtying just one pan for cooking, but also boasting a pretty, rustic dish in which to serve the finished pie. Add the venison to the oil, season with salt and pepper, and cook until browned.

Next up, the aromatics: Add the remaining butter to the pan, followed by the carrots and onions. Sauté for about four minutes, or until soft. Then, add the garlic (and the flour, if using) and cook just until fragrant — about a minute — before adding the Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, and red wine. Cook until the liquid has evaporated, then season with the herbs.

At this point, add the chicken broth, and once again, simmer until the liquid has cooked off. This helps the flavors to concentrate, leaving you with a filling that's super rich and delicious.

Build the shepherd's pie

With both the topping and filling cooked, it's time to assemble your pie. Turn on the broiler, and then turn your attention to the mixtures. If you're using the same cast iron pan you cooked the filling in to bake and serve the pie, simply smooth out the top and scrape down the sides. If you'd rather, you can also transfer the filling into a separate baking dish. Either way, top it with the potato and rutabaga mixture, and spread it out with a spatula until even.

To make this a make-ahead meal, you can build the pie completely up to this stage before letting it cool and refrigerating. The next day, simply pull it out and allow it to come to room temperature — about an hour — before baking.

Bake Gordon Ramsay's shepherd's pie with twist

For the final touch, just top the potatoes and rutabaga with the last 2 ounces of shredded Parmesan cheese. Before slipping it into the oven, Gordon Ramsey recommends in his YouTube video to "fork the top" of the pie, "a good old fashion tip just to keep my Mum happy."

And Kamikawa agrees. "Forking the top of the pie creates ridges, which makes extra surface area that can brown and crisp up, creating an awesome tasty topping that looks great to boot."

Place the prepared pie in the oven, and bake until crisp and brown, about ten to 15 minutes. Let it rest for ten minutes, then dig in!

The Best Gordon Ramsay's Shepherd's Pie With Twist
5 from 26 ratings
This unique approach to Gordon Ramsay's shepherd's pie recipe boasts a "hunter's twist" that adds depth of flavor to the classic.
Prep Time
1.25
hours
Cook Time
25
minutes
Servings
6
servings
finished shepherd's pie
Total time: 1.67 hours
Ingredients
  • 1 pound russet potatoes, peeled, large dice
  • 1 pound rutabaga, peeled, large dice
  • 1 tablespoon + 3 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 ounces Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ pound ground venison
  • 2 large carrots, grated (about 7 ounces)
  • 1 onion, grated (about 12 ounces)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Optional Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Directions
  1. Make the topping. Place the diced potatoes and rutabagas in a large pot on the stove, and add enough water to just cover the ingredients. Add 1 tablespoon of kosher salt, and turn heat to high. Boil until potatoes and rutabaga are tender, about ten to 12 minutes.
  2. Melt 4 ounces of unsalted butter. Strain the potatoes and rutabaga, and mash with 2 egg yolks, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, ¼ teaspoon of black pepper, 4 ounces of shredded Parmesan, and the melted butter. Set aside.
  3. Make the filling. Grate the carrots and onions, and mince the garlic.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a sauté pan (cast iron preferred) over medium high heat. Brown the venison in pan, seasoning with 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon of black pepper.
  5. Add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter and the carrots and onions. Sauté until soft, about four minutes.
  6. Add the minced garlic (and flour, if using) and stir until the garlic blooms, about one minute. Add 2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce, 2 teaspoons of tomato paste, and ½ cup of red wine. Cook until the red wine has evaporated. Add 2 teaspoons of minced fresh thyme, 2 teaspoons of minced fresh rosemary, and ½ cup of chicken broth. Cook until the liquid has evaporated, about four minutes.
  7. Turn on the broiler, then build the pie. Smooth out the pie filling or transfer to another baking dish, if desired, and use a spatula to evenly level the filling. Pour the potato and rutabaga topping onto the filling, and spread evenly with a spatula.
  8. Top the potatoes and rutabaga with the last 2 ounces of shredded Parmesan cheese, and fork the top.
  9. Bake until the topping browns and crisps, about ten to 15 minutes.
  10. Let the shepherd's pie rest for ten minutes and serve.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 552
Total Fat 28.1 g
Saturated Fat 13.9 g
Trans Fat 0.5 g
Cholesterol 119.5 mg
Total Carbohydrates 32.2 g
Dietary Fiber 4.8 g
Total Sugars 9.0 g
Sodium 1,058.1 mg
Protein 39.5 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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