Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Shepherd's Pie (and some basic mash)

I first made shepherd's pie, perhaps not surprisingly, when we were living in Ireland. We liked to watch a show called "The Restaurant," where each week a guest chef would have the chance to design & prepare a menu for a restaurant full of people and several critics. These guest chefs were tv personalities, sports stars, politicians, journalists, radio announcers, etc. Good fun, both for the food as well as for the insights into Irish food and culture.

One time the guest chef made Shepherd's Pie, and I said, "I could make that! I should make that. Let's have that next week!" And so we did.

Now, whenever I want to make shepherd's pie, I always pull out my print-out of her recipe... and never, ever, ever follow it. :) I don't even have any notes written on it. But it does remind me of how generally to make it, that I need to remember the thyme & rosemary, and how it should taste at the end. Which is yummy.

Shepherd's Pie
  1. Make mashed potatoes from scratch. For me, that means wash & cut-up some red potatoes & boil until soft. No need to peel them first, just cut out any iffy bits. Drain & mash with butter. Lots of butter. And some salt. If you've got sour cream or plain yogurt or cream cheese, go ahead and add some of that - it'll just make it yummier. Set aside. You're better off making too much mash than not enough, 'cuz it makes fine leftovers, but not enough to cover the pie looks scanty. If you're really fancy, you could peel your potatoes and whip them and later use a pastry bag to pipe them all pretty on top & then sprinkle with parsley to garnish, you overachiever, you.
  2. Peel & dice or slice some nice carrots. I like carrots, so I do 3 or 4 of them. Saute in olive oil or a mix of butter and olive oil until they're just starting to get a few brownish bits. Set aside.
  3. Peel and dice some onion fairly finely. Red is milder and what I prefer, but whatever you have on hand is fine. Saute to your preferred level of softness/translucence & set aside.
  4. Cook up some ground lamb (aka lamb mince) and/or ground beef, about a pound & a half total (A pound is 454 g. Ah, the memories. *grin*) until it's browned, but not crispy. This last time I did half of each.
  5. Add a good splash of red wine, maybe a dash of Worchestershire, and some beef broth. (Have I mentioned my love of Better than Bouillon lately? 'Cuz it tastes so much better than the granules and is just as convenient!) The amount will depend on the leanness of your ground meat, but you want it to have enough gravy that it doesn't get dry when/if the potatoes soak up some of the sauce. Too soupy is not great though, so find a happy medium.
  6. Sprinkle in some salt & pepper to taste and about a teaspoon each of thyme & rosemary (a bit more if you're using fresh). Let it simmer for a while - 15 minutes? - enough to let the flavors meld.
  7. Stir back in the onions & carrots. I add some thawed frozen peas in at this point, too. Taste & adjust the seasoning, gravy amount, etc. if it's not awesome.
  8. Put it in a pretty casserole and level it out. Carefully spread the mashed potatoes over the top evenly, then pop it in the oven & broil it until the top has some nice color to it. If your broiler is on the fritz, don't worry your pretty little head about that step - it'll still taste just as good, as long as you make sure it's heated though. You could do this up into biggish ramekins if you'd like individual servings, or if you want to make a bunch & freeze them. Not that I've done that, but you could. ;)

Enjoy, especially with a nice stout (Murphy's or Beamish if you can find them) or a glass of red wine!

1 comment:

Pusher said...

I want to eat this right now.