What would St. Patrick’s Day be without some tasty Shepherd’s Pie? Somewhat lacking I’d wager. I’ve always considered this an Irish dish. However, some folks have recently questioned whether it didn’t originate in England. I looked around online to see if I could find a definitive answer and really couldn’t, though there seems to be plenty of debate. I certainly ate more than my share of Shepherd’s Pie in Ireland. You can find it everywhere, its a pub grub staple, so I’ve decided to include it. There are literally zillions of ways to make this dish. Chef Gordon Ramsay makes a fantastic Shepherd’s Pie, so I’ve used his recipe (which he claims is English-just ignore that) with some slight modifications. He uses lamb mince (ground lamb) in his dish. I chose to use ground beef, which is much more widely available in this neck of the woods, and my husband doesn’t really care for lamb. I guess that makes mine a Cottage Pie technically, since I think Shepherd’s Pie is made with lamb, whereas Cottage Pie is done with beef. The only other thing I changed is that I like peas in my Shepherd’s Pie. Chef Ramsay didn’t include any, but I threw some in. You will love this incarnation of the dish. The mince, or ground meat, is incredibly flavourful and the mashed potatoes on top give it a satisfying crunch followed with a lovely creamy finish. Fantastic!
Original recipe by Gordon Ramsay, modifications by me (don’t tell the Chef-I’m a bit scared of him!)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 pound (500g) minced lean lamb-or ground beef
1 large onion, finely grated
1 large carrot, finely grated
2 cloves garlic
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tablespoon tomato puree
Handful of thyme sprigs, leaves picked
1 sprig of Rosemary, needles chopped
1 small can of le sueur very young small early peas
1 cup + 1 Tablespoon (250ml) red wine-or some might say “a healthy glug”
1 1/4 Cup (300ml) chicken stock
2 1/4 lbs.(1kg) potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
3 1/2 Tablespoons (50g) butter
2 egg yolks
1/4 heavy cream-you could use milk if you are being virtuous
Parmesan cheese, for grating
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350° F (180° C/gas 4)
Watch Chef Ramsay prepare his Shepherd’s Pie and become inspired.
Easy right? Now you’re ready to go!
Heat the oil in a large sauté pan until hot. Season the meat and fry in the oil over moderate to high heat for 2-3 minutes. If the meat has released a lot of grease, drain off at this point. Return pan to heat. Stir the onions and carrot into the meat and then grate the garlic in as well. Add the Worcestershire sauce, tomato puree, herbs and peas. Cook for 1-2 minutes stirring constantly. Pour in the red wine and reduce until almost completely evaporated. Add the chicken stock, bring to the boil and simmer until the sauce has thickened.
Meanwhile, cook the potatoes in boiling, salted water until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain then return to the hot pan over low heat to dry out briefly. Pass them through a potato ricer or use a good old-fashioned potato masher/ stand mixer combo as I did. Beat in the butter, egg yolks and cream followed by about 1/4 cup grated Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Spoon the meat into the bottom of a large ovenproof dish. I used a 8 1/2″ by 8 1/2 ” square dish. Individual ramekins would likely work as well. Make sure the dish is deep enough to accommodate both a healthy layer or minced beef as well as the potato topping. Once you’ve place the meat into your dish or dishes of choice, using a large spoon, layer the mashed potato generously on top, starting from the outside and working your way into the middle. Grate some extra Parmesan over the top. Fluff up the mashed potato with a fork to make rough peaks. Bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes, until bubbling and golden brown.