I didn't grow up eating Shepherd's Pie but it has become part of my winter dinner repetoire over the past few years. I've finally written down how I make it to pass out at the Farmer's Markets (and to help sell our ground lamb). I'm sharing it with all of you today. I'm one of those cooks who wings it and it usually turns out fine. All this recipe writing is a stretch to say the least. Kids love Shepherd's Pie and it makes a great dish to bring to a potluck!
Shepherd's Pie is one of those recipes that you can tweak and use all kinds of odds and ends from your pantry, fridge or freezer. In fact that's the fun of it. It's also great to make an extra one to put in the freezer for those nights you just can't bear to chop an onion or mince some garlic.
I know that most cooks in the States probably do not use lamb. Heresy! How can it be official Shepherd's Pie if sheep aren't involved? Really now. Digging into the www I found that in England, Shepherd's Pie is definitely made with lamb. If it is made with beef, it is called Cottage Pie.
Anyone else want to throw in their own tweaks for their version of Shepherds Pie?
Leyden Glen Farm's Shepherd's Pie
This is our “farm version.” It’s yummy and homey and will feed a crowd.
2 pounds potatoes
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound ground lamb
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion - diced
2 carrots – diced into ½” pieces
5 cloves garlic - minced
1 cup chicken broth, lamb stock or white wine
1 tablespoon tomato paste
½ teaspoon dried rosemary
½ teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and Pepper
1 cup each corn and peas (I use frozen)
¼ cup parmesan cheese
Peel and chop the potatoes. Boil in salted water until tender and mashable. Drain. Add the milk and butter. Mash the potatoes, season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.
Brown the lamb, drain fat and set aside. Saute the onions and garlic in the oil until onions are translucent taking care not to burn the garlic! Add the diced carrots and sauté for 3 more minutes. Mix together the broth, tomato paste, herbs and salt and pepper. Add all ingredients to the skillet and simmer until carrots are done to your liking. The mixture should be thick. If too saucy, let some of the moisture evaporate. Add the frozen peas and carrots. Try not to overcook!
Butter a 9 x 13 casserole. Pour in the meat mixture and smooth. Spoon the potatoes over the top of the meat and spread evenly. Place in a 350 degree oven and bake for 25 minutes. Sprinkle with the parmesan cheese. Broil to melt the cheese and brown the top.
Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
To make an Italian-ish version of this:
Substitute red wine for the white wine.
Substitute 1 can cannelini or Great Northern beans for the corn and peas.
Add ¼ cup basil pesto to the meat sauce mixture before topping with the potatoes.