#59 shepherd’s pie

Some of you may not be familiar with this rather old dish meal.  Shepherd’s pie is a British meat pie with a crust of mashed potato, traditionally made with minced lamb.  The dish itself can vary greatly around the world, but is most common as a traditional home recipe or a standard item in an Irish pub.  In early cookbooks, the dish was a means of using leftover roasted meat of any kind.  It was made popular long, long ago when the potato was being introduced as an edible crop affordable for the poor in the late 18th century, coining the term ‘cottage pie’ – after the modest dwelling for rural workers in Britain.  Because by definition a shepherd looks after sheep, the term shepherd’s pie remains true to its British English recipe made with lamb.

So, respecting the true recipe of a shepherd’s pie, I have to therefore admit I baked up a cottage pie by definition this time.  Made with ground turkey meat, the flavor was exquisite, only making me wonder how much flavourful the true lamb meat Shepherd’s pie could be.  The dish was rather easy to put together, with the basic veggies you can find, like diced carrots and frozen peas.  I layered the meat and sprinkled the cheese, topping it with the mashed potatoes because I chose to have toasty mashed potatoes and ooey-gooey cheese on the inside!

For the Pie

  • 5 medium-sized potatoes, peeled & quartered
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) of milk
  • Salt & pepper
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 pound (500g) of raw ground lamb (or ground turkey, in my case)
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (500ml) of beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup of frozen peas
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 cups of grated white cheese
  • 2 tablespoons of butter

Place the potatoes in a large pot of cold water over medium heat.  Bring to a boil and cook until tender.  Drain and transfer the potatoes to a bowl and mash, preferably with a wooden spoon, adding the milk and butter, along with salt & pepper to taste.  Beat until fluffy.  Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).  In a large skillet, combine the olive oil with the chopped onion & carrot.  Cook over low-medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender but not brown.  Increase the heat to medium and add the ground meat.  Break up the meat with a spoon, until it loses its pink color.  Spoon off the excess fat.  Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes.  Add the tomato paste, beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaf, dried thyme, dried rosemary, & ground nutmeg, and add salt & pepper to taste.  Add the peas.  Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened.

Transfer the meat to a glass baking dish.  Pat evenly and sprinkle the cheese on top.  Then, spread the mashed potatoes over the top, making peaks with a fork.  Spread the last bit of butter over the potatoes to ensure a golden browned glow!  Bake until the potatoes look divine and the dish is heated through, about 30 minutes.  Let cool, slightly, then serve directly from the baking dish.

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