Saturday, 30 July 2011
Shepherd's Pie = Comfort Food; the best food a mum can make!
Seeing as it is an English Summer (and a typically Northern one at that - dull; dreary; dank - and many other adjectives beginning with 'd') I thought I would put a smile on the faces of the bubs and Phill by making a Shepherd's Pie. It's a recipe that never gets old, and it is a great favourite in our house. I consider it good, healthy, wholesome food, which can be dressed up and down as you wish. Even though I'm working on the premise of the clatter of forks and spoons rather than the sparkle of a Michelin star here, I defy any guest for dinner not to be secretly quite pleased that you decided on this as the meal to offer. Come in. Sit down. Open a bottle of red if you like, and dig in.
Two onions, chopped.
Two large carrots, or three medium ones, diced.
A bay leaf
Two teaspoons of dried thyme
500g lamb mince (for this is 'Shepherd', not 'Cottage')
A tablespoon of tomato puree
About 10 drops of Worcestershire Sauce (or more if you like oomph)
About a litre of lamb stock (and yes I use stock cubes. Knorr for preference)
A handful of frozen peas
Salt and pepper to taste
Mash is extraordinarily personal. It's a bit like how you like your tea. I am not a fan of the silky, luxurious, Michelin starred mash. I like my mash made with milk or cream, butter and salt and pepper. And I like it to look like clouds. Cumulus clouds. And I really couldn't tell you quantities either, but it's something like:
Ten biggish potatoes - I use Vivaldi or Lady Balfour
A generous knob of butter
A couple of splashes of cream or milk
Salt and pepper
Dice onions and carrots, heat the oil in a pan.
Put the onions in first, and let them sweat a little. The add the carrots and the bay leaf and thyme. Cook for about five minutes or so.
Add the lamb mince and stir through to break up any lumps. Make sure the lamb is well browned before you continue to add any other ingredients.
Stir in tomato puree and Worcestershire sauce and then add the stock.
Reduce the mixture on a mediumish heat for about 30 minutes until the mixture is like a sauce. Add the peas for the last five minutes or so. Season at this point.
Meanwhile, while the meat is reducing, prepare the mash. Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender. Drain.
Add the butter and a splosh of cream/milk and then release your anger/frustration by mashing it to within an inch of its life. Or use a ricer or food mill if you want your cooking to be less strenuous. You may need to or want to add more liquid or butter to achieve the consistency that you like.
Taste the mash. It is likely it will need salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 180 c
Place the meat mixture into a suitable ovenproof dish.
Pile the mash on top of the meat mixture and flatten and decorate how you wish. You could pipe the mash if you like. Personally, I like to spread the mixture and then rough up the surface with a fork. Dot with butter.
Place in the oven for about half an hour or until the top is golden brown.
Serve with vegetable of your choice. Green beans for me!
Even better the next day, and of course you can make this in advance, assemble it, allow it to cool and put it in the fridge until required.