Shepherd’s pie

Shopping for an elderly relative some time ago, armed with his list, I bought a ready-made shepherd’s pie from a leading supermarket. It wasn’t very good.

Which seems a shame because any famous dish is almost certainly a classic when made properly. After all, that’ll be how it got its famous name in the first place.

Shepherd’s pie easily fulfils the classic criteria and, made properly and with care, is one of my favourites. Unfortunately, because we rarely have leftover lamb in our restaurant, it only occasionally appears on our menu. But I would argue that when buying lamb for roasting at home, it’s worth buying too much, just so you can have some left over to make the pie. All of a sudden, that lamb goes a long way. And you discover what a real classic should taste like.

Serves four

  • 450g leftover roast lamb
  • One onion – finely chopped
  • One carrot – finely diced
  • One clove of garlic – crushed
  • A tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • A small glass of red wine
  • 250ml to 300ml of very good quality beef or lamb stock, maybe supplemented with any gravy left from the roast dinner
  • One tablespoon of tomato ketchup
  • Two teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce
  • 900g of mashed potato
  • Salt and freshly-ground black pepper

You need to have the lamb coarsely minced. I quite happily cut it up into tiny pieces about the same as the diced carrot but you could use a food processor. Just be careful that you don’t over-process it to a mush.

Heat the oil in a large pan and sauté the onions, carrots and garlic; allowing them to brown slightly. Add the meat and continue stirring until it’s all nicely browned. Then add the wine, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce along with enough stock to make it moist but not runny. You can always add a little more stock or water before assembling the pie to get the consistency right.

Simmer gently for around 30 minutes; tasting it and adjusting the flavour by adding salt and pepper as well as a little more ketchup or Worcestershire sauce if thought necessary.

Spoon the mixture into a pie dish and top with the mashed potato; fluffing it up with a fork to make a rough surface.

A little while before you’re ready to eat, pre-heat the oven to 200°C (gas mark 6) and bake the pie for 30 to 45 minutes until bubbling sauce shows around the edges and the potato’s browning. Serve on it’s own or perhaps with HP Sauce and possibly a few garden peas.

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