Thursday, 5 July 2012

Shepherd's Pie



My boys love Shepherd's pie. If I want a hassle-free meal that gets eaten without having to coax and cajole, I make Shepherd's Pie. When you have two boys who like different food, making a meal that they'll both eat without having to encourage one or the other can be a bit tricky. But when I make this for dinner, I don't have to explain why they should eat the meal I've made, I just put it on the table and listen to the dulcet tones of - "Ooooo, yum", "It looks delicious", "Can I have another helping?" and my personal favourite - "Thanks Mum" ... Music to a mothers ears.

Shepherd's Pie
from Nigel Slater's Real Cooking

For the Topping:
1kg mashing potatoes (I used Innovator), peeled and cut into large chunks
50g cold unsalted butter, cubed
100ml hot milk
sea salt
100g grated cheese (I used an organic cheddar) It's not traditional to put cheese on Shepherd's Pie, but my boys love it and my Mum always did it too... it's a family tradition.

For the Filling:
2  onions, roughly chopped
1 carrot, roughly diced
3 tablespoons butter
500g raw lamb mince 
1 tablespoon flour
1  tablespoon tomato paste
250ml hot beef stock
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Make the Topping:
Simmer the potatoes in salted water until tender - about fifteen to twenty minutes.

Drain the potatoes. Mash them with a potato masher or push them through a potato ricer (my preferred method). Stir in the butter then add enough milk to get a lovely smooth mash. Set aside.

Make the Filling:
Put the onions and carrot into a food processor and whiz until they are very finely chopped.

In a large pan, cook the chopped onions and carrot with the butter, until they are meltingly soft and golden - don't worry if they have caught slightly at the edges.

Add the minced meat. The meat must brown a little here and there, so do not stir it too often. Leave to cook for five minutes or so, breaking it up as necessary.

Add the flour and the tomato paste. Continue to cook, stirring regularly, for three or four minutes - tomato purée is bitter if not thoroughly cooked.

Pour on the hot stock, add a bay leaf and a sprig of thyme and bring to the boil.

Turn down the heat and leave to simmer very gently for 25-30 minutes.

Preheat the grill (broiler) to high.

Season the filling with salt, Worcestershire sauce and a few grinds of black pepper - be generous.

Scoop the mixture into a large baking dish and pipe or spoon dollops of mashed potato over the top. To be honest, I usually just spoon the spuds on, but I knew I would be taking photos and I wanted it to look purrdy for you. Top with the grated cheese and grill until the topping is golden brown.

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