18 April 2012

Shepherd's Pie - succour during a week's failures in the kitchen.

This photograph makes my mouth water in a most unseemly way!
I've told you all what a dire week of cooking results I had, last week, so I won't go on about it again.  However, if you can imagine how sad, demotivated, anxious and lacking in confidence having a whole week's-worth of failed recipes would make you - I was right there.

This Shepherd's Pie, originally, was intended to be a Moussaka which hubby had volunteered to cook.  However, as hubby had spent the day wearing himself out doing battle with our garden, the thought of having to tackle all the processes required for a Moussaka was more than he wanted to commit to - and I don't blame him!  So, as he's a dab hand at a Shepherd's Pie, I needed some serious cheering up and he had some great ideas on making this Shepherd's Pie a cut above the average, Shepherd's Pie is what we wound up with.  Oh, and what a Shepherd's Pie it was.

Now you mustn't forget that Shepherd's Pie is my idea of food heaven.  So if I wax lyrical about this one, don't be surprised.  However, to say that it came at a perfect moment and in perfect form, isn't putting it mildly.

Oh pie dish of much promise!
I'd spent the previous couple of days being almost constantly hungry.  Now I know that being hungry isn't going to kill me - in fact, it'll probably do me good.  However, it is miserable to be hungry all the time and I needed something to stop that niggly hungry feeling that just makes you consider all sorts of naughtiness when you should be being good.  This Shepherd's Pie did that in spades.  Honestly, if I could have carried on eating it, I would have.  In fact, I considered going back for some more later on that evening (but resisted).  Well, I resisted only as long as breakfast time the following day, when a plate of Shepherd's Pie, a fork and myself met over a warm computer keyboard for ten minutes of sheer indulgence.

By the way - my friend Marilyn and myself aren't the only ones who enjoy a plate of cold Shepherd's Pie, are we?  Poor hubby had to sit in a different room to me as I ate my breakfast.  Oh, but it was good.  Naughty, but oh so nice.

Now I know I've already posted about Shepherd's Pie, but haven't ever given a recipe.  This recipe is not only gorgeous, but infinitely reproducible - so here you are.  You don't HAVE to use the red wine, you can use a little stock instead, but it definitely adds a little je ne sais quoi to the recipe - and you don't want to miss out on that, now do you?

SHEPHERD'S PIE    (feeds 4)

Ingredients :

4-5 potatoes, peeled and quartered
a large knob of butter
500g minced Lamb
4 banana shallots very finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 stick celery, very finely diced
1 carrot, very finely diced
1 tsp dried thyme
half a tsp dried basil
2 tbsp tomato puree
500ml of good lamb or vegetable stock
half a glass red wine
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Method :

1.  Heat a large saucepan two-thirds full of salted water until it boils.  Once boiling, add the potatoes and cook until tender (when they fall from a knife inserted into the middle).

2.  Once tender, drain them well, add the knob of butter and some seasoning and mash until all the lumps are gone.  Set aside.

3.  In the meantime (while the potatoes cook), heat a deep frying pan without any oil and dry fry the minced lamb until nicely browned.  Remove the lamb mince using a slotted spoon and set aside to keep warm.
4.  Turn your oven on to pre-heat to 200degC/400degF/Gas6.

5.  Return the pan, complete with lamb fat, to a high heat adding a little olive oil if necessary and then fry the shallots, garlic, celery and carrot.  Once the shallots are softened and showing a little colour, add the red wine and cook on a high heat until the wine has reduced by half.

6.  Return the meat to the pan and add the herbs and the tomato puree.  Cook for a few minutes to mellow the tomato puree before adding the stock.

7.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook until the mixture reaches your preferred consistency.  I like to reduce quite a long way so that the mixture can support the mashed potato.

8.  Pour the mix into a suitable dish and top with the buttery mashed potato.  Fluff the mash with a fork and then place into the oven for at least 30 minutes, until golden and toasty on top and with evidence of the gravy bubbling up around the sides.  Rotate the dish in the oven halfway through cooking if your oven cooks unevenly (like mine does).  If you like a thicker crust on your potato then feel free to leave in the oven for as long as required.

9.  Serve with a selection of vegetables or a good robust salad and have a nice comfy armchair handy for that after-dinner satisfied slouch.



  1. That looks lovely and warming and delicious! I love making this recipe with leftover lamb too, it's a very frugal and comforting meal.

    1. Leftover lamb is one of my favourite cold meats, Marcus. A plate of that, with some potato salad and a dollop of mint sauce and I'm a happy gal. :)


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