Sunday Supper Shepherd's Pie
Scotland. I am smitten with Scotland. The unbelievably verdant, bucolic countryside, with plump sheep dotting the hills and crumbling castles in the distance. The reinvigorated energy of Glasgow with a Victorian necropolis charming enough for a date night stroll. The magical and ancient city of Edinburgh, its old history stacked on top of its ancient history, dotted by monuments and a city scape which belongs, appropriately enough, in a Harry Potter film. The beauty of the highlands with its craggy rocks and rolling mountains, plunging into clear, azure lakes. It truly is a stunning country full of warm people, innovative cuisine and tremendous amounts of wonderful, smoky, peaty Scotch whisky. I adored everything about my visit to Scotland and when I returned, waxing poetic about my haggis eating adventures and hearing the ‘Game of Thrones’ theme song played on bagpipes, my husband was thrilled that I might finally be willing to make him one of his favorite foods. A traditional Scottish (maybe?) Shepherd’s Pie.
If you would have told me even a year ago, that I would be eating Shepherd’s Pie AND loving it AND have a Shepherd’s Pie recipe which I would feel was tasty enough to publish on my blog, I would have laughed at you. To be honest, I have never really like Shepherd’s Pie. It has always been in a category with meatloaf and Johnny Marzetti...bland, with muddled flavors and a mushy texture and not all that exciting. But my husband loves Shepherd’s Pie. He begs me for Shepherd’s Pie (in summer nonetheless). I am willing to cook just about anything for us and try new recipes (as long as it doesn’t involve mushrooms - I. Just. Can’t. Deal) but I just could not get enthused about Shepherd’s Pie. Finally last winter, I caved and began sampling a variety of recipes in an attempt to create a pie both of us would crave and look forward to on a cold, Boston winter weekend. After many endeavors, I think I finally cracked the recipe for a flavorful, textured Shepherd’s Pie, Scottish with an American twist, perfect for a chilly evening in or a Sunday supper with the family.
- 1 ¼ lb. ground lamb
- 4 Tbsp. butter
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 1 Tbs. brown sugar
- 1 finely chopped shallot (or 2 cloves garlic)
- 3 large carrots, cleaned, peeled and chopped like coins
- 1 tsp. Cinnamon
- 1 tsp. Cumin
- 1 tsp. Allspice
- 1 tsp. fresh Rosemary
- 1 tsp. fresh Thyme
- 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 10 shakes Worcestershire sauce
- ¾ cup red wine (Cabernet, Pinot Noir, anything you like to drink)
- 1 cup frozen green peas
- 1 cup frozen corn kernels
- Salt and pepper
Cheesy Potato topping:
- 4 Tbsp. butter (cut into small pieces)
- 3 large sweet potatoes
- ½ lb. sharp English cheddar, freshly shredded (I shred mine in a food processor - it takes hardly any extra effort and really makes a huge flavor difference)
- 1 egg
- ¼ tsp. Cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. Allspice
- ¼ tsp. Cumin
- ¼ cup whole milk
- Handful finely chopped parsley
- ½ cup french fried onions (This is great recipe if you have time, I usually don’t, so store bought it is)
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
- Pierce your sweet potatoes with a fork, wrap in aluminum foil and place in the oven to cook while you prepare the pie.
- In a 12 inch cast iron pan, brown the lamb. I find that ground lamb usually has enough fat not to stick but if it starts to, add in a tablespoon of butter. (I use this to break up the meat). Cook the lamb until it is almost done and still slightly pink. Add salt and pepper and remove meat to a separate bowl and drain fat from pan.
- Add 4 Tbs. of butter to the pan. Once melted add the onion. Cook onion until it starts to caramelize, about 15-20 minutes. (I have found this step to be crucial in adding flavor - give the onion enough time). Stir pan intermittently to ensure onion does not stick.
- 15 minutes after putting the onion on, add the chopped shallot and brown sugar and a little salt. Cook until soft. Season with additional salt and pepper.
- Add chopped carrots to pan and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
- Add lamb back into pan.
- Add all dry and fresh spices, tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce. Mix together.
- Pour wine into pan and cook together for a few minutes until mixture is dark, thick and combined and wine is reduced. Add additional salt and pepper to taste.
- Turn off heat and mix in frozen peas and corn - no need to defrost them. Pat down the pie mixture so it is evenly distributed in the pan.
Shepherd’s Pie topping
- Add 4 Tbsp. butter (cut into small pieces) in large bowl.
- Once potatoes are done and cool enough to handle, peel and put potatoes over top of the butter.
- Add in ½ of the grated cheese. Cover the bowl for a few minutes, so that the butter and cheese begin to melt.
- Add spices, salt and pepper and milk and stir. Add egg once the mixture is cooled down a bit. Season with salt and pepper. The mixture should be creamy and smooth
Now put together your Shepherd’s Pie!
- Spread potato topping over the meat mixture. Crimp all over with a fork to create the crusty, caramelized bits that make the pie so good!
- Top with the remainder of the shredded cheddar.
- Put pan in oven (still at 400) for 13-15 minutes.
- After 15 ish minutes turn oven temperature to broil for 5 ish minutes until the cheese is bubbly and there are golden brown crunchy bits all over the top.
- Remove pie from oven and let rest for a few minutes, then top with chopped parsley and french fried onions.
- Enjoy your fantastic Shepherd’s pie with the remainder of your bottle of red wine and some Scottish bagpipe tunes!