My favorite comfort food growing up in the United Kingdom was a hearty, healthy plate of Shepherds Pie. The whole family would make this at least once a month.
There truly was nothing better on a cold and dreary day and nothing more comforting to join family around the table for.
The way I was raised, Shepherds Pie was always made with Lamb (hence the name), Peas and Carrots with a gravy all of its own. If you are lucky to enjoy and all traditional Scottish version, it will have a pastry on top instead of potatoes. Both equally delicious.
Shepherds Pie isn't though, to be mistaken for its cousin Cottage Pie.
Cottage Pie is made with ground beef, and in the last century, is cooked with cheese baked into the mashed potato on top.
Everybody has their own version of Shepherds Pie as this dish is found in many corners of the world. And dependent on the ingredients one has at hand, this can come in many styles.
My family have been making this for many decades. Variations have come and gone with generations, more so my greats who, during the War, grew their own vegetables to accommodate and feed a family of 5 grandchildren and many adults who had fled the cities during that time.
It is told to us "youngens" they would even add boiled cabbage, proceeding to drink the cabbage water with their supper for it's many nutrients.
This dish never fails. Our version is simple, quick, as well as hearty and tasty.
This recipe will feed 8. I used an 8x10 Glass Pyrex dish as you don't want the meat layer to be thin.
You Will Need:
• 4 large Baking Potatoes or 8 medium Russet Potatoes
• 4 tbsp softened Butter (I use Kerrygold, though any softened butter will work)
• 1/4 cup of Milk (any of your choosing works fine to cream the mash)
• Salt and Pepper to taste
• Ground fresh Parsley
• 1 3/4 cup of mixed vegetables (here I used diced carrots and garden peas)
• 2lb Ground Lamb
• 4-5 tsp of A/P Flour
• 1 cup finely diced White Onion
3 tbsp Worcester Sauce
• 2 crushed Garlic Cloves
• 1 cup of Chicken Broth
• 2 tsp Rosemary
• 2 tsp Thyme
• 1 tsp Parsley
• 2 tsp Tomato Paste
• 1 tsp Salt
• 1 tsp Pepper
Peel and dice your potatoes and add to a pan with enough water to cover your potatoes and bring to a medium boil.
In a separate saucepan, add your mixed vegetables and bring to be a medium boil. If you are steaming your vegetable, steam for 25 minutes.
In a skillet, sauté your onion and garlic together on medium/low heat until soft and semi golden.
Add your lamb and cook thoroughly until browned all over.
To soak up any grease left over by the lamb, add your flour and mix until all grease is soaked up.
Add an extra tsp if you must, you want all that grease soaked up.
Add in your Worcester Sauce and mix. Add your Parsley, Rosemary, Thyme, Salt and Pepper and mix thoroughly. Add in your tomato paste and mix until all the meat is coated and pink/reddish colored, then add in your chicken stock and mix thoroughly on low heat. You don't want to cook out the gravy.
Remember to taste as you go. If you feel you need more herbs and seasonings, add a quarter teaspoon at a time.
Once your vegetables are soft, drain and add them to your meat mixture. Mix well.
When your potatoes are soft and ready, drain and return them to a pan for mashing.
Add your butter, and start to mash it in. Add your milk and mash in until it's all come together.
Season with Salt and Pepper and continue to mash until your potatoes are soft and lightly creamy. You don't want them to be runny or too soft or they will sink into the meat.
Once you have creamed your mashed potatoes, place your meat mixture into your dish and even out to make a thick layer. My layers are usually 2" thick.
Start to add your mashed potatoes on top. Don't mix them with the meat. Layer the potatoes evenly and build up to create a slight dome on top. Tuck the mashed potatoes into the edges to stop the gravy from bubbling out.
With the potatoes built up, you take a fork and make lines lengthways and then crossways. The scoring will help give it an incredible crisp when cooked. Sprinkle crushed, fresh Parsley over the potatoes, evenly.
Place in your oven at 340 for 1hr or until the potatoes are evenly golden and crisp on top.