HIS ‘N’ HERS SHEPHERD’S PIE
Shepherd’s pie is classic English fare. The sort of meal that regularly graces farmhouse tables across the UK, served in deep casseroles and topped with thick slabs of golden mash potato.
It’s the sort of food that conjures up images of lumbering farmers lured in from cold wet fields to warm kitchens, where the dogs are curled up next to the aga and smells of rich minced lamb and hot bread fill their twitching nostrils.
A familiar winter staple, shepherd’s pie transports me straight back to the Shropshire countryside and days that darken at mid afternoon. I think of long school afternoons playing hockey in the mud, my knees red from the cold. I think of dog walks along the canal and naughty Labradors who jump in and need to be hoiked out by the scruff from murky waters. I think of arriving home to a lit fire, drawn curtains and finally sitting down to a hearty meal with family.
It is the definition of comfort food – especially when coupled with such memories.
This his ‘n’ hers shepherd’s pie is the perfect compromise with broccoli topping for her and mash for him.
Prep time: 1 hour
250g lamb mince
1 small onion – finely chopped
1 small carrot – finely chopped
1 small green capsicum – finely chopped
2 cloves garlic – finely chopped
1 heaped tbsp tomato puree
1 sprig rosemary
Salt and black pepper
1 tsp butter
In a large heavy based pan, heat a splash of olive oil over a medium heat and fry the onion, carrot and capsicum until they begin to soften. Add in the garlic and cook until fragrant (1-2 minutes). Set aside.
Take a second frying pan and add another splash of olive oil and heat over a medium flame. Add in the lamb mince. With the back of a wooden spoon, break up the mince into very fine pieces so there are no visible lumps and cook until it has completely changed colour. Season the meat with salt and pepper and add the finely chopped rosemary leaves.
Next, add a little of the stock to the pan and with a wooden spoon scrape any meat gubbins from the bottom of the pan. Pour in the rest of the stock and add the cooked vegetables into the pan. Finally, stir in the tomato puree season with more salt and pepper and allow to simmer over a low heat for about 25 minutes or until the sauce is thick and reduced.
Boil the potato, and once tender, mash it with 1 tsp of butter and set aside.
To make the pie, transfer the lamb mixture to an ovenproof dish and spread the mashed potato over one half. Sprinkle over 50g grated cheese and place under the grill until golden.
While the pie is under the grill, boil the broccoli ready to be placed on the other side of the pie once it’s cooked.
A splash of red wine will add depth and richness.
For a thicker, school-dinner-like sauce, add a flour based roux.
Good old fashioned tomato ketchup.