If I see Shepherd’s Pie on the menu anywhere (or something like it) I have to order it! It’s the ultimate in comfort food with a nice bonus of vegetables. Unfortunately, it’s not on too many menus in Omaha so I’m forced to make it myself. Luckily, I found an amazing recipe from Saveur which I’ve tweaked to suit my needs… as usual. This recipe calls for lamb – making it shepherd’s pie, but if you don’t want to buy it for any reason, you can substitute ground beef and call it cottage pie! That’s yummy too. I love cooking with different meats, in fact, on Father’s Day we had some delicious braised goose with polenta, but we gobbled it up before I could take a picture so I thought I’d make lamb this time. For a little fyi, I bought some grass-fed lamb at the farmer’s market, and it actually doesn’t taste any better than the lamb at the grocery store. Interesting since the grass-fed beef is about a million times better than the grocery store versions (I’m talking no added hormone version). I will continue to buy the grass-fed regardless since it’s better for you, but this lamb was really no different. Depending on the cut of lamb you buy, you may have to do some major fat-cutting! Lamb can be pricey, so it’s just more work cutting out fat if you buy a fattier piece. I can’t stand chewing on fat so I’ll work forever cutting it off if I have to. If anyone knows of a good butcher in Omaha, let me know!
This kind of food makes my husband happy. However, this takes forever to make and makes quite a mess! If you’ve got small kids, I suggest a babysitter or definitely some help before attempting! In this case, my mom was around to help. We started at nap-time and then when my son woke up, my mom entertained him so I could keep cooking. Otherwise, I don’t think I would attempt making anything this time consuming!
- 1 stick butter
- 2 lbs lamb (any cut that’s on sale, cut into 1/2″ cubes)
- 1/2 Vidalia onion, chopped
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 2 medium carrots, chopped
- 3/4 cup beef stock
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 15oz can chopped San Marzano tomatoes, drained
- 2 Tb flour (or if you’re gluten-intolerant, just substitute what you normally would to thicken gravy)
- 1 Tb finely chopped FRESH rosemary leaves, fresh rosemary makes a huge difference here!
- 1 tsp thyme, dried, 1 TB fresh if you have it, I didn’t
- a few dashes of nutmeg
- 1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
- 2-3 large russet potatoes, depending on how much you want, peeled and quartered
- 1/2 cup half-and-half or 1/2 cup chicken stock to lighten up the mashed potatoes
- Pre-heat non-stick casserole dish to medium-high on stove-top (I use the same oven-safe kind so I don’t have to dirty up 2 dishes, but use a pan if you don’t have a transferrable pan)
- Add enough butter to coat and brown lamb – you’ll have to work with 1/4 to 1/3 of the lamb at a time, removing to a bowl to brown up the next batch. Add more butter as necessary, remove all lamb to bowl
- Add onion, shallot and carrots to pan and cook until onion is see-through and browns a little, about 5 minutes
- Return lamb (and all juices) to pan and add flour, whisk for about a minute. You can also coat the lamb w/ flour first if you want to or if you forget the flour, just add it when you add the juices, it’ll all work out
- Add beef stock, wine, rosemary, thyme and nutmeg, bring to boil, reduce heat to medium-low and cover about 2 hours, until lamb is tender – yours may cook much faster, so keep checking. stirring occasionally.
- Remove cover from pot, add tomatoes, keep simmering until thickened, about 35-40 minutes. Remove from heat and add peas, add salt and pepper to taste, transfer to 2 quart casserole dish
- Pre-heat oven to 375
- Cover potatoes with water in a separate pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 25 minutes, drain, return to pot. Add half and half (or chicken stock if you’re making it lighter) and a few tablespoons of butter and mash with a potato masher. Add salt and pepper to taste
- Top lamb mixture with mashed potatoes, here’s your opportunity to make those potatoes pretty. I used 2 instead of 3 potatoes in the picture above, so more of the lamb mixture juices bubble over to the potatoes. Yummmmm. Slice thin slivers of butter on top of potatoes – about a tablespoon or two
- Bake until the potatoes turn golden brown and bubbly, about 30 minutes
…a little note about the potatoes, it’s prettier when you use three potatoes, but the last time I made this with three and had leftovers, I ended up getting a bowl of mashed potatoes and gravy basically. So, this time I made it with two instead of three for leftover’s sake. It would’ve pictured even prettier had I used 3 but of course, I wasn’t thinking of looks, just of the flavor. I need to remember that I have a food blog and it needs to look pretty, not just taste yummy. It takes me awhile to learn my lessons but trust me, it’s goooood!