Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd's PieForget the shepherd’s pie you might remember from the school canteen or any place where huge trays of it are churned out for mass catering. This shepherd’s pie is nothing like that. This takes a bit more effort and a lot more time but if you can spare those requirements then it is totally worth it. This recipe is for one massive pie so, if needs be, you may want to halve the quantities. Or just halve the amount of potato and freeze half the filling for next time.

This recipe comes from Jamie Oliver’s ‘Comfort Food’ book and if you make it you’ll appreciate how fitting that title is. I love so many of the recipes in this book and this one panned out perfectly. The only flaw in it is the timing. Not that it takes so long, I don’t mind giving a massive chunk of time to a recipe, but even when Jamie says this takes 6 and a half hours, for me at least, this was a huge underestimate. This may have been because I’m a bit of a klutz or maybe because I was trying to carry out this recipe within the narrow parameters of my iPhone cameras lens but either way, I feel that Jamie tends to underestimate kitchen times. Just check out his ’30 Minute Meals’ and the even more unrealistic ’15 Minute Meals’. If you can’t find them in the Cooking section you might want to check in Fiction next to Harry Potter or The Da Vinci Code. For this reason, I’ve included a pit stop where you can stop what you’re doing and finish it off the next day quickly. You basically do 90% of the work and assemble it the stick it in the oven the next day. This might not sound like anything special but it means that you can do it at your own pace the day before with out a deadline when you have to feed people. If you only finish before going to bed then it doesn’t matter. I might be making it sound like a huge ordeal but it’s really not. It takes time, but for most of that time you need do nothing at all.

Shepherd’s Pie

Ingredients

  • 2 Kg shoulder of lamb
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 sticks of celery, chopped
  • 3 red onions, chopped
  • Half a swede, chopped
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 2.5 Kg potatoes
  • 100 g sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 25 g butter
  • 4 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 good sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 1.5 L lamb stock
  • 1 heaped tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp breadcrumbs

Instructions

  1. Drizzle the lamb with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a table spoon of salt and place in a roasting tray with a mug of water and cover with a damp sheet of parchment. Roast for 4 hours at 170 degrees Celsius removing the parchment after 3 hours.
  2. Peel and chop your potatoes and boil them in salted water until fork-tender and ready to be mashed.
  3. Mash with the butter and half the cheese and set aside to cool.
  4. Sweat the vegetables, bay leaves and one of the rosemary sprigs in 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, high-sided pot for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Remove the lam from the oven and take it out of its tray. deglaze the tray with half a litre of lamb stock scraping the tray with a spoon to remove as much of the burned on bits as possible. Reserve these tray juices oil later.
  6. Pour out 2 tablespoons of lamb fat from these reserved juices and save until later.
  7. Pull the lamb from the bone and shred it with two forks.
  8. Stir the flour into the vegetables and add the lamb meat, tray juices, remaining lamb stock and the largest lamb bones and bring to the boil.
  9. Once boiling, clamp the lid on and bring thereat down to a simmer and allow simmer for 40 minutes.
  10. Finely chop the leaves from the remaining rosemary sprig.
  11. Grease a large pie dish or casserole with the collected lamb fat (microwave it briefly if it has solidified), and sprinkle over the chopped rosemary and one tablespoon of breadcrumbs.
  12. Add about half your mashed potato to the dish and with your knuckles, spread it over the bottom of the dish and up the sides so that there is a 1cm layer covering the inside of the dish.
  13. When the lamb and vegetables have simmered for 40 minutes take out the bones, bay leaves and whats left of the rosemary sprig and pass the rest through a sieve, saving the juices that run out for the gravy.
  14. Add the lamb/vegetable mixture to the potato-layered dish and cover with the remaining mashed potato. Smoothen it out with your hands.
  15. Sprinkle over the remaining cheese and breadcrumbs and either freeze or set aside to cook the next day or bake now. To bake, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and bake at 200 degrees Celsius for 1 hour and 10 minutes.
  16. While the pie is baking, reduce the sauces until thick and serve.
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