Friday, 20 January 2012

Memories of Home - Shepherd's Pie

I have for many years played around with different recipes for this particular pie and I keep coming back to this one, it is completely basic but very tasty. You may remember what your own mother put in hers so feel free to add or subtract as you please. If like me your are looking to start your own tradition then use this as your template. I pipe rosettes because when you serve it, they pull apart so you have glimpses of the lamb underneath the fluffy golden potatoes, delicious. My mother would spread the mash with a fork, using the tines to create furrows which crisp up in the oven. I am writing this mainly for all those Irish expatriates who maybe need some comfort food from home.

Serves 4

25g butter
1 Onion, peeled, chopped
1 Clove garlic, chopped
25g Plain flour
500g Minced lamb
300ml Beef stock
100g Frozen peas
1 tbsp Parsley
¼ tsp Table salt
1Tbsp Tomato ketchup

Mash Topping
1kg Potatoes, washed, peeled and chopped
½ tsp Table salt
25g butter

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Lightly grease a 24x24cm  oven proof dish. 
Place the potatoes in to a large saucepan of cold water,bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until tender when pierced with a fork. Drain and set aside. Melt the butter in a large frying pan, fry the onion and garlic over a medium heat until golden, don't burn the garlic as it will become bitter. Sprinkle the flour into the pan, stir to soak up all the juices, I add the flour now because it always goes lumpy if I added it after this stage. Cook for a further minute. Add the lamb and brown completely. Once browned on all sides, slowly add the beef stock, stirring all the time until the sauce thickens. Add the peas, ketchup and  parsley, return to the boil and simmer gently for 3-4 minutes. Run your spoon across the pan and if it leaves a trail then the sauce is thick enough so your topping won't sink! Season. Pour the lamb into the greased dish.

Mash the potatoes, add the salt, butter and a splash of milk to the potatoes. Add more milk until the potatoes are a soft dropping consistency. Fill the piping bag with a star nozzle and pipe rosettes on top of the lamb, just big enough so that the slightly touch. Now on plenty of occasions I have burnt off my finger tips doing this so I recommend thick rubber gloves!! To making filling any piping bag easier, place the bag, nozzle down into a large glass and fill. You don't have to be particularly neat doing this, just cover the lamb below.

Bake at the top of the oven for 30 minutes or until golden and bubbling.

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