Shepherd’s Pie My Way
I found a really basic recipe for Shepherd’s Pie (Cottage Pie) in Tarts with Tops On by Tamasin Day-Lewis. I bought the book in 2003 when it was released, but have only used it a few times. She’s got a nice collection of traditional English pies and pasties- some with lard in the dough like housewives once used without guilt. Honestly, I only think of using this book when it’s dismal outside. Every recipe warms up the house and fills it with comforting aromas.
Instead of following her recipe, I replaced multiple ingredients to use what I had at home, and what I thought would taste better to me. Harissa adds a spicy lick to the lamb, and it results in a good balance of acidity and heat. This recipe is delicious on a cold and rainy night, served this with roasted green cabbage (or you can serve it with any dark leafy green like sautéed or steamed kale, chard or spinach). Any crowning brassica- like cauliflower or broccoli- is a good match to Shepherd’s Pie.
I am still using up produce from my CSA share from Growing Things Farm. The carrots, cabbage, and potatoes are all from their farm. The leek, shallot, garlic, and porcini powder were bought from produce vendors at the Ballard Farmers Market recently.
- 1 lb. lamb kebab meat, cut into even smaller cubes (I bought mine from a local farm, Hidden Meadow Ranch in Mt Vernon)
- ¼ cup flour
- 2 tsp Lamb seasoning (Penzey’s spice catalog)
- 1 tsp each Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 medium shallot, diced
- 1 leek (white part only) cleaned and diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp harissa paste
- 1 Tbsp tomato juice
- 1-2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 Tbsp porcini mushroom powder
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup red wine
- 2 lbs – red and yellow potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup of whole milk, half and half or cream
- Pre-heat the oven to 400F.
- Peel, cut and boil the potatoes until soft. Drain and then add 1 tsp of salt, butter and milk. Mash the potatoes then cover and set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot or fry pan.
- Coat the lamb with flour, spices and seasonings and add to hot pan and stir until brown (brown bits will collect on the bottom of the pan). Do not burn.
- Add the shallot, carrot and leek and cook until translucent. Add the garlic, harrissa paste, tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaf and porcini mushroom powder.
- Add red wine and water and stir, using a spoon to scrape the bottom of the pan to dissolve all the browned bits
- Turn the heat down and let the lamb mixture simmer gently for about 20-25 minutes allowing for some of the liquid to reduce.
- Spoon the lamb mixture into a pie pan then gently top with mashed potato.
- Place the full pie pan on a cookie sheet or whatever you prefer as a drip catcher. If you bake in a pie pan, it will drip. I still prefer to cook it this way.
- Cook for 10 minutes to get the potatoes browning, and then lower the heat to 350F. Continue to cook for another 30-45 minutes. Remove from oven, let settle for about 10 minutes and serve.