Meat and potatoes are a match made in heaven, like two soulmates who were meant to be together, eaten in conjunction with another. If you were eating any kind of roasted meat, a side of potatoes whether roasted, mashed, or boiled, is almost customary like a ritual. Okay, I know I have been reading a little too much of Nigel Slater, so I should probably tone it down a bit :). Anyway, so the classic Shepherd’s Pie is the perfect marriage between these two elements, ground lamb mince baked under a bed of buttery mashed potatoes. The Irish and the Scottish both lay claim to the humble pie. Well, they can both enjoy the glory while I will go dig my fork into a pie. On a winter’s night it’s the ultimate comfort food, and on others, well, it’s still comfort food for me. Pair it with a bottle of great Cabernet Sauvignon to bring out the flavors and you are ready for a night in with Netflix .
Shepherd’s Pie is not a hard dish to master but is definitely a time consuming one if you like me make everything from scratch. I am not a fan of store bought, preservative laden mashed potatoes, specially when they are the simplest thing to make. I use organic lamb mince for this recipe, which is what is traditionally used, but you can just as easily replace it with beef mince. Now some might argue that, using beef would make it a cottage pie instead of shepherd’s pie, but I ain’t getting into the naming game. As long as it tastes good bring it on.
As promised before it is a simple recipe with a few simple ingredients. I use a mix of fresh herbs and dry spices to make the mince flavorful. I end up alternating between thyme and rosemary depending on whatever I have on hand. I also add a few more spices than the traditional recipe. The onions, carrots, and celery are sautéed together until soft, and then the pan deglazed with red wine, the mince added and browned with some spices and left to simmer with tomato paste. Once the meat is cooked it is layered in a baking dish which is then topped with a thick layer of buttery mashed potatoes. This is baked for a further 20minutes or so until the top crips up to a nice golden brown. I like to serve this with a side of green beans salad. I will be publishing the recipe for my pistachio green bean salad soon which goes wonderfully well with this dish. So here goes my version of the recipe for Shepherd’s pie!
Rustic Lamb Shepherd's Pie
For the Filling:
- 1 pound (500gm) Lamb Mince
- 1 medium brown onion sliced
- 1 cup diced carrot (2-3large carrots)
- 1 cup diced celery (3-4sticks)
- 2-3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 2tbsp tomato paste
- Fresh rosemary sprigs washed and chopped
- 1//2 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1tsp crushed red chili flakes
- 1tsp paprika
- 1tsp Herbs de provence (optional)
- 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 cup chicken or lamb stock
- 2tbsp olive oil
- Salt and crushed black pepper to taste
For the Mashed Potatoes-
- 3-4 large russet potatoes
- 1 stick of butter (you can use less if you want but the result will not be as fluffy)
- 2tbsp milk
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 1tbsp bread crumbs
- In a large saucepan bring the potatoes to a boil in salted water.
- In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onions to it. Slightly sauté the onions until they become soft and add the garlic, diced carrots and celery to it. Add salt and sauté until soft. Add the wine to the pan and reduce it until the wine has completely evaporated.
- Add the lamb mince, with bay leaf, chopped rosemary and all the other dry spices to the mix. Sauté until the lamb is no longer pink, breaking up chunks.
- When the lamb mix is no longer pink add the Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste and chicken stock to the pan. Mix well and adjust seasonings as per taste. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and let the mix cook until the meat has cooked through. Make sure that any excess water has evaporated.
- Meanwhile, when the potatoes are cooked though (easily pierced through a fork), drain and peel them after they have cooled a little. Combine the butter and the potatoes and mash them together using a fork or potatoes masher. Add a splash of milk and nutmeg to the mashed potatoes to fluff them up. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Spread the lamb mix on the bottom of a baking dish and top it with a layer of mashed potatoes. Lightly run the surface of the potatoes with a fork to make zigzag marks. This will help in crisping it up.
- Sprinkle the top with bread crumbs and place in the oven for around 20mins until the top starts to turn golden brown.
- Once done let is cool down for 5minutes before cutting up and serving. Bon appetite!