Monday, 25 March 2013

Shepherd's Pie

There are many different versions of shepherd’s pie, but essentially it is of course just a base of braised lamb mince, topped with mashed potatoes. Generally speaking, although there is a certain amount of debate, if beef mince is used it is called cottage pie. Sprinkle some breadcrumbs on top before popping in the oven and the result will be a Cumberland pie.

I like my shepherd’s pie to be quite rich, with a fairly generous amount of liquid used in the initial braising but then cooked for long enough that this reduces down to a rich, herby gravy. This is good for weekend cooking - I find it quite soothing to prepare and cook and even more so to eat. 

It's kind of weird, as the photo doesn't look that great but I think this was without doubt my best EVER shepherd's pie. Oh yes.

Shepherd’s Pie
serves 3-4

1 onion, chopped
2-3 carrots (depending on size), grated
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
a couple of sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves picked, most finely chopped, some reserved
bay leaf
sprig of thyme, leaves picked
olive oil
500g minced lamb
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato purée
large splash worcester sauce
½ tsp anchovy purée or essence
small glass of red wine
250ml lamb stock
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1kg potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
50ml milk
75g butter
nutmeg, freshly grated

Heat a good glug of olive oil in a large sauté pan over a medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, garlic, chopped rosemary leaves, thyme and bay.

Cook for at least 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened.

Turn the heat up, push the vegetable mixture to the edges of the pan and add the lamb mince. Brown well for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and breaking up any lumps of mince with the back of a wooden spoon.

Add the wine and simmer fiercely to reduce, scraping up any bits that may have stuck to the bottom.

Add the worcester sauce & anchovy purée, stir through and cook for a minute before tipping in the tinned tomatoes & purée.

Pour in the stock, season with a good pinch of salt and pepper and stir well, then bring to the boil.

Reduce back to a low heat, pop a lid on so it is slightly ajar and simmer for 1 hour.

Towards the end of cooking, preheat the oven to 190ºC and cook the potatoes in a large pan of salted, boiling water until tender. Drain and return to the pan, then mash. Add the milk, butter and a pinch of nutmeg and salt and pepper and continue to mash until smooth and creamy.

Transfer the lamb mixture (discard the bay leaf) to a large ovenproof baking dish.

Spoon the mash evenly over the top, poking the remaining rosemary leaves into it, drizzle with a little olive oil. 

Then cook in the hot oven for 30 minutes, or until golden and bubbling.

Serve & scoff with peas. Or maybe baked beans.

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