Thursday, January 8, 2015

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Shepherd's Pie

This comfort food classic from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's The River Cottage Meat Book was first published in the United Kingdom in 2004 and quickly became an underground hit among food cognoscenti around the world. Based on his Mum's Shepherd's Pie that he enjoyed growing up, he admits that it's been his favourite for as long as he can remember. “In my family, leftovers were the best bit,” says Hugh. “My mum would never roast a lamb without following it with fantastic shepherd’s pie, never roast a chicken without making a stock, and never cook beef without doing lovely beef sandwiches the next day. She has never thrown away a scrap of meat in her life, and that’s been instilled in me.” Perfectly suited for using up leftover Roast Lamb, the meat is chopped and simmered in a flavourful sauce so it stays tender before being baked with a pillowy crown of mashed potato until it's golden brown and bubbling up along the edges. Served with a tumble of peas dotted with a knob of butter, this is the perfect meal to warm you up on a cold blustery winter evening.

Chopped leftover Oven Roasted Indian-Spiced Leg of Lamb from New Year's Eve dinner

Homemade lamb stock that we made before, and froze for a time such as this

Lamb sautéed with chopped onions, carrots, celery, garlic, red wine and chili sauce

Worchestershire sauce being added to the sauce

Simmered for 20-30 minutes, the sauce becomes more concentrated and full of flavour

Sriracha is an excellent Vietnamese hot chili sauce available across North America

Spooned into a casserole and topped with a pillowy blanket of mashed potato

The Shepherd's Pie is then topped with 2 tablespoons of diced cold butter, a dash of Paprika and grind of white pepper, then baked at 400°F for 30-40 minutes

The Shepherd's Pie is done when the mash is golden brown and the sauce is bubbling up around the edge

Served with a spoonful of peas, Shepherd's Pie is one of the ultimate comfort foods

The Ultimate Shepherd's Pie
Serves 6-8
Recipe adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

2 tbsp olive oil
2 lb leftover roast lamb, coarsely chopped
2 large onions, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
4 cups concentrated lamb stock made from the bone
1 small glass red wine
2 tbsp Sriracha hot chili sauce
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mashed Potato Topping:
2 lb russet potatoes, peeled and cut into even-sized chunks
1/2 cup whole milk or light cream
4 oz unsalted butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan or wide saucepan big enough to accommodate all of the ingredients. Brown the meat all over in batches, then transfer to a plate.

Heat the remaining oil over a medium heat and sweat the onions in the same pan with a pinch of salt until just beginning to turn lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Add the carrots and garlic, sauté for a couple of minutes, then return the meat to the pan, along with any gravy, juices or stock, the wine, Worcestershire and chili sauce, then season. Simmer gently for a few minutes, adding a little water if the mixture looks dry. Taste for seasoning and add a little more Worcestershire sauce, salt or pepper, if you like. Simmer gently for 20–30 minutes, until the meat is tender and the flavours well blended, however if you're using fresh lamb, it may take a little longer. Do a final taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary. Again, add water, or wine, to loosen the mixture if you think it needs it. It should be well lubricated but not soupy.

Heat the oven to 400°F. While the meat is cooking, make the mash. Boil the potatoes until tender in a pan of well-salted water. Drain into a colander and leave to steam for several minutes. Warm the milk and butter in the pan until simmering, add the potatoes and mash smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Tip the meat into a casserole dish, pile the mash on top, covering the meat, and use a fork to rough up the surface of the mash. Bake for 30–40 minutes on a baking tray to catch any spill-over, until the mash is browned and the sauce is bubbling up around the edges. Leave to cool for a few minutes before serving with a nice bottle of red wine.