Lockdown Blues Shepherd’s Pie

With lockdown in full-swing and a chilly nip in the air from the remnants of the winter just gone, we were in need of a gastronomic hug to warm our cockles up.

There were limited supplies at the shops, so it was time to get back to basics with nostalgic comfort food, enter – Shepherd’s Pie.

We added extra vegetables for a vitamin boost, which included diced carrots, swede and peas. The addition of cheese is optional, but we opted out on this occasion.

On a personal level, in my humble opinion, I think the addition of cheese is ‘not traditional’, but the missus amongst others have told me otherwise!

The dish also works well with plant-based minced meat substitutes for a vegetarian and/or vegan take on this recipe, using a quality vegetable stock in place of the lamb (or chicken stock).

In uncertain times such as these, a generous helping of this classic family favourite served with a robust glass of red (or two!) will be sure to blow those lockdown blues away.

Ingredients:

For the filling:

500g Minced Lamb

1 Onion (large) – diced

2 Carrots (large) – 1 grated, 1 diced

2 Celery Sticks – chopped

200g Swede – diced

100g Frozen Peas

1 Tbsp. Flour

1.5 Tbsp. Tomato Puree

250ml Red Wine

250ml Lamb (or Chicken) Stock

1.5 Tbsp. Worcester Sauce

1 – 2 Tbsp. Oil (rapeseed)

1 Bouquet d’ Garni – 2 bay leaves with sprigs of rosemary and thyme tied with string

For the topping:

1.5 Kg Floury Potatoes – peeled and cut into equal size pieces

Knob of Butter

2 Egg Yolks

Salt & Pepper to taste

Whole Nutmeg (to grate) to taste

200g Parmesan Cheese (optional)

Method:

1) Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the meat and cook until browned, to remove any unwanted greasy fat. Remove the meat and keep aside.

2) Add a little more oil to the same pan, and sauté the onion, celery and grated carrot until softened along with the bouqet d’ garni. Season with salt and pepper.

3) Return the meat to the pan with the sautéed vegetables. Add the tomato puree and ‘cook it out’. Then add the red wine and reduce by two-thirds.

4) Add the diced carrot, swede, stock and Worcestershire sauce. Cook on a slow simmer for 45 minutes, until the diced carrot and swede are just cooked through, retaining their crunch. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5) In the meantime, steam the potatoes. Once cooked, mash them using a potato ricer if you have one.

6) Add the knob of butter (and cheese if you’re using) to the potato and then beat the egg yolks through it. Season with grated nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.

7) Once the carrot and the swede in the filling are cooked, add the peas, turn through the mixture and take off the heat, the peas will cook in the residual heat left in the pan.

8) Pre-heat the oven to 200 ºC. Add the filling to an oven proof pie dish approx. 25cm x 18cm (10’ x 7’). Top the filling with the mash and use a fork to make furrows along the top.

9) Bake in the middle shelf of the oven for approx. 30 – 35 minutes, until a lightly golden crust has formed. Serve with wilted greens and a glass of red – enjoy!

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