- James May's emergency kitchen

Shepherds Pie - The James May way

27w ago


Going back over three years to a time before 'The Grand Tour', when James May found himself temporarily unemployed, he amused himself and us by taking up cookery on you tube, proving that once you're a film maker you can't help but carry on making films. After a vote on Twitter to decide what people would like to see him cook, it was decided that Shepherds Pie would be first on the menu on JM's Unemployment Tube. Apologies for the quality of the film lighting and stills, this was filmed on an iPad in a kitchen.

No poncy Pie allowed

This is a 'Hospital specification' Shepherds Pie, none of that foodie nonsense you understand, but the sort of pie that the youthful May learnt how to cook at University and no doubt perfected through his years as a struggling freelance journalist and writer. You can't afford poncey food in your writers garret.

Part I - Add wine to taste

Starting with poor lighting and his iPad he shows us how to make the pie in five stages. Part I sees him setting the scene and preparing the ingredients. .

Don't forget the cardamon and chilli and of course no home cooking would be complete without Chateauneuf du Pape, for the cook.

James shows us a block of cheese

Part II - Is it me or is it a bit chilli?

James moves on to the cooking in Part II, cooking the onion and the chilli together and getting the potatoes on to boil

It's all excitement this cookery lark, the moment the onions become translucent is very important as you don't want burnt onions in your Shepherds Pie. Add more wine to cook. Is anyone else wondering why James had a plastic cactus on his cooker hood? Just me then.

There are two main ingredients discussed here

Part III - Getting browned off and cooking with more wine

Adding the main event now, the lamb goes in with the onion and chilli to brown and the cardamon pods are added. Important tea towel news is included in this episode, tune in to part IV for more.

Make sure the cook is well oiled.. I mean the pan is well oiled. Keep stirring so nothing burns.

James really enjoys cooking with wine

Part IV - Yeilding but not compliant

At this stage you need to make the gravy and check your potatoes for mashability. They need to be 'yeilding but not compliant' to testing with a knife.

To avoid sticking make sure you've got a good thick bottom, on your pan. Add a little wine to cook and the gravy.

Cook's perks

Part V - Pie makers assemble

Now mash your potatoes, leaving a bit of 'peasanty roughness' as it's not a poncey pie remember. Assemble your pie in the pre heated oven dish. Spread the potato as evenly as possible on the top of the meat mix and add some grated cheese.

Then add grated cheese and wine to the chef while the pie browns in the oven.

Cheese and wine monent

After about 20 mins the pie will be browned and the cheesy top melted, so you can get it out of the oven and plate it up, and you and the other 'slightly fat' person you're sharing it with need wait no longer. That's if the other person hasn't left you for suggesting they were slightly fat.

MMMMM pie......


I have made this recipe the May way many times since I first watched it on a beach in Sri Lanka. Watched the film on a beach in Sri Lanka that is, not made the pie on a beach.Very nice pie it is too, give it a go.

What do you think, is James May going to be able to make cookery programmes after The Grand Tour finishes? James 'Delia' May here we come?

(No Shepherds were hurt in the making of this pie, though some grapes took a pounding).