Not Nigella’s Shepherd’s Pie

The pie.

Okay, so it’s 104° here in Austin (seriously), and I decided to make a shepherd’s pie.  Am I crazy?  Judge for yourself.

British food still has a reputation for being bland. I lived in England for four years, and since returning to Texas in 2005, I have been on a mission to share the diversity of delicious British food with my fellow Americans.

Britain enlightened me to the fact that there are more types of pies than chocolate merengue.  In fact, while the sweet dessert pie is virtually unheard of in the UK, the array of meat pies is astounding: cottage pie, shepherd’s pie, Melton Mowbray pie, chicken and mushroom pie, beef and ale pie, steak and kidney pie.  And don’t forget eel pie.

Before I moved to the UK, I had never eaten lamb. I have often  opined that it would’ve been better never to try it, because I am a stickler for adorable baby animals and lamb is succulent and singular.  Lamb was a revelation.

One weeknight, I had a pound of lamb and a bag of potatoes that needed eating. So I whipped up a delicious pie. The resulting recipe has become a family favorite!  This crispy potato topping is especially tasty.  This dish is perfect for reheating, but be aware that nothing beats a shepherd’s pie straight out of the oven!

Since I adapted this recipe from beloved British food broadcaster Nigella Lawson’s, I decided to call it Not Nigella’s Shepherd’s Pie.  Enjoy—but don’t forget to give Britain credit!

Not Nigella’s Shepherd’s Pie

1 lb. ground lamb
~ 4 cremini mushrooms, chopped
1 shallot, finely diced
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Worcestershire sauce, to taste
2 Tbsp tomato paste, diluted in 1/2 cup water
1/3 cup red wine
pinch of cinnamon
4 medium potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 Tbsp melted butter
additional pat of butter for greasing pan

1. Preheat oven to 425°F. In a large saucepan over medium heat, saute garlic and shallots in olive oil until fragrant (about three minutes). Meanwhile, boil potatoes in salted water in a separate pot.

2. Add lamb to garlic and shallots, breaking it into fine pieces and stirring until brown. Add mushrooms, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce to taste. Once browned, add wine, tomato paste mixture, and cinnamon, and stir thoroughly.

3. Drain and mash potatoes; add cream and about 3/4 melted butter and stir thoroughly. Set aside.

4. Grease a medium casserole dish (I used a quart Pyrex) with butter. Fold meat mixture into dish and top with mashed potatoes. Smooth mash potatoes evenly over surface with a spatula or large spoon, then make a criss-cross design with a fork. Drizzle remaining melted butter over the top, and then sprinkle with additional Worcestershire sauce, if desired.

5. Bake at 425° for about half an hour, or until topping is crisp and brown; broil for a minute or so at the end of cooking, if desired. Remove from oven and allow to cool for approximately five minutes, then serve.

This dish is perfect for reheating, but be aware that nothing beats the crispy potato topping straight out of the oven!

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