Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s Pie was historically made with chopped leftover mutton or lamb from the Sunday Roast, mixed with leftover vegetables and gravy and topped with mashed potato. This version takes that background, but makes from scratch. It is made with shredded cooked mutton or lamb rather than mince. Although it may seem a bit arduous, it is genuinely so worthwhile and tastes beyond wonderful. The quantity below will make 2 large shepherd’s pies. Because of the love and time involved, it is worth making the 2 and freezing one. The quantities below will certainly make one very large (to feed 10-12) or two smaller dishes of Shepherd’s Pie.

Lamb shoulder on the bone – about 2kg
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt & Pepper
Place in a deep roasting tin, and rub all over with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season well with 1 teaspoon each of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add a mug of water, cover tightly with foil, and put in an oven at 170°C/Gas 3. Roast for 2 hours. Remove the foil, baste the lamb, and roast for a further 2 hours until the meat is tender and falling off the bone.

In a very large pan or stock pot, heat some fat from the roasting lamb – about 2 tablespoons – or similar of olive oil. Into this put
4 large Onions, diced
4 large Carrots, roughly diced
4 sticks Celery, thinly sliced
1 medium Swede, peeled and cut into 1cm dice
4-6 Fresh Rosemary Sprigs
Salt and Pepper
Sweat over a low to medium heat, covered, for about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The vegetables should be softening and caramelising slightly.
Stir in 1-2 tablespoons plain flour, and then add approximately 1.5 litres Lamb or Chicken Stock. Bring to the boil, and then reduce to the lowest heat and allow to simmer for 30 minutes or so.

Shred all of the lamb off the bone, discarding any large bits of fat and the bones. The pieces can be quite large – you are shredding rather than chopping fine. Tip them into the vegetables and gravy as you go. Skim any fat from the roasting tin, pour in a bit of boiling water to loosen the pan juices, and add these to the pan with the vegetables and shredded lamb. Check the seasonings and pour into one large or two medium sized deep roasters. The meat and vegetables should come about 2/3 of the way up the dish. If you have some liquid left, save it to serve as extra gravy.

5 kg Potatoes – good mashers, such as king Edward, Maris Piper, Romano or Desiree
About 100g Butter
100-150g Cheddar grated
Salt and Pepper – generous quantities
Peel and chop the potatoes into chunks, and boil in well salted water until tender – about 15 minutes. Drain well, return to the pan with the butter, and a good sprinkling of salt and pepper and mash like crazy until your potatoes are nice and smooth. Consider it a workout. You do not want the potatoes to be too wet, otherwise they will sink into the meat.

Gently spread the potatoes over the lamb mixture and roughen the surface. Grate over a good layer of mature cheddar. Put the dish into a preheated oven 200ºC/Gas 5 for 40-50 minutes until bubbling and browned on top. Delicious with greens and peas, or other vegetables of your choice. Don’t forget the mint sauce!

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