Okay, I went for it. After my Bangers and Mash Debut, I decided to take on Shepherds Pie last week. Before I started, I needed to get the definition correct. I thought I could make my shepherds pie with beef but was informed by some of my British peeps (Thanks Ami :) that if it has meat...it is a Cottage Pie. A Shepherd tends to sheep and their babies are LAMB...so it is the same cottage concept made with Lamb....BAM...shepherds pie.
If you think about it, that is sort of a strange name because it implies that the shepherd takes one of his animals he is protecting and throws it into a dish for dinner...sort of sick....but I digress. LET'S GET COOKIN!!!!!
I started w/my ground (mince) lamb and let is brown after seasoning with salt, pepper and some thyme. When it was done, I set it aside and let the fat drip away so it would be a bit lighter. In a different dish, I cooked up some onions, garlic and shreadded carrots along with some rosemary for a few minutes. Next, I threw in some red wine, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste and chicken stock before letting the mixture hang out for a few minutes. Let's get the potatoes workin!
I peeled some potatoes and got them boiling in another pot. Once they were finished, I mashed and added an egg yolk, salt, pepper and some parmesean cheese...DELISH! The onion lamb mixture was now ready so I pulled out one of my fabulous Le Creuset dishes and poured it in just before topping with my mashed potatoes. Once all was assembled, I added some more parm. cheese and poured over a little bit of EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) before popping it into the oven for 20 minutes. The secret that I originally forgot and had to do about 5 minutes into cooking...is taking a fork and picking at the mashed potatoes to create peaks. This makes the top cook better and get more crisp.
POOF...Shepherds Pie. My tester man dug in and also enjoyed some Roasted Pine Nut Broccoli on the side. So...what is the verdict?
I have to say that I was disappointed a little bit. The dish was a little bland which surprised me as I had put thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper in the dish. I got a few tips from some Brits after my first pass and will put them into work next time:
1) Don't peel the potatoes. It makes the dish more earthy and gives more dimension to the crust.
2) Make a gravy to pour over the dish. I am a fan of Bisto granules (I know it is cheating and basically, according to my friend Jane "The instant coffee of gravy)....I love it. It is so salty and I'm sure it would have eliminated the bland factor.
I will definitely use these tips next time. The recipe was Gordan Ramsay's and can be found here. I would recommend adding more thyme and rosemary to the dish than the recipe calls for:
Now that I have tackled two British classics, I'm starting a new project. With my handy epicurious iphone app, I'm going to start having weekly international themes. I will go in alphabetical order and will begin with Africa this week. Tonight, I'm making Moroccan Lemon Chicken with Green Olives. Stay tuned ;)!