Soooo its football season again, my fantasy football team is looking real solid and the Giants have potential but I’m not going to get my hopes up just yet. Slowly the weather is cooling down, you can smell Fall in the air. Its my favorite time of the year by far and since its Sunday, football is on, my Giants are playing…I wanna make some comfort food! To me, Shepard’s Pie, an Irish pub favorite, screams comfort. With little deliberation, I was sold on making it last Sunday’s meal to enjoy while watching Eli Manning face off against his brother Peyton and the Colts. Little did I know, the only thing I’d be enjoying while watching the Giants get their asses kicked would be eating this delicious Shepard’s Pie. C’MON GMEN, STEP IT UP!!!
1 1/2 Lbs Freshly Ground Lamb
2 Large Carrots, Chopped in Small Cubes
1 Cup Frozen Peas
1 Cup Fresh or Frozen Organic Corn
1 Cup Vegetable Stock
1 Large Onion, Chopped
3-4 Cloves of Garlic, Chopped
3 Sprigs of Rosemary, Pulled off the Stem and Chopped
4-5 Sprigs of Thyme, Pulled off Stem and Chopped
1/4 Cup of Worcestershire Sauce
1 Heaping Tablespoon of Tomato Paste
1 Cup of Port Wine, Cognac or Brandy
1/4 Cup of All Purpose Flour
Salt & Pepper
Mashed Potato Topping:
4 Large Russet Potatoes, Peeled and Cubed
2 Tablespoons of Butter (If you want to get a little crazy, add 3-4)
1/2 Cup of Half and Half
1 – 1 1/2 Cups of Shredded White Cheddar Cheese
1 Egg Yolk
Salt & Pepper
For the mashed potatoes, peel the skin of the potatoes with a vegetable peeler and give them a quick rinse under water. Slice the whole potato in half. Then take each half and slice it in half again. Then take the dissected potato half and slice through it to make as uniformly sized little pieces as you can so they cook evenly.
Put the cubed potatoes in a pot and cover them with water. Put a lid on the potatoes to bring them to a boil, BUT, once it comes to the boil, take the lid off and let the potatoes simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until you can easily crush them with a pair of tongs.
Drain the potatoes in a colander and return the pot to the stove and add the half and half to warm through.
When the half and half is nice and warm, add the potatoes back to the pot, season with salt and pepper and add the butter. Then mash the potatoes with a potato masher or a ricer. I don’t have either so I just used my hand blender but if you go this route, make sure you don’t over blend or the potatoes will become gummy…that’s no good.
Once its cooled, add the egg yolk and stir to combine. Then its ready to spread on top of the lamb mixture.
As soon as your potatoes start cooking, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and start on the lamb filling. Take your onion, chop the top off leaving the root attached and then slice the onion in half. Take your knife and make 1 to 2 horizontal cuts across the onion. Then take your knife and make vertical cuts across the onion and the slice it into a small dice.
Next, hit up your carrots. Take a vegetable peeler and peel off the skin of the carrot. Cut off the tops and the bottoms of the carrots then take your knife and slice the whole carrot in half. Then take each half and slice them in half. Then slice it into a small dice.
Take the garlic, slice each clove in half, then exactly like you cut the onion, you make vertical cuts across the surface of the garlic half. If the half is thicker (which some might be depending on the size of the clove), then make one horizontal cut across the garlic and the dice it up.
Take a big saute pan, preheat it on medium-high heat and add some olive oil.
Add the onions and carrots and cook until soft, about 5 minutes and season with salt & pepper.
Once soft, add the garlic.
After about a minute or so, add the ground lamb and season with salt & pepper
Cook that until all the pinkness of the raw meat disappears and then add the flour directly to the mix.
Once you combine the flour, add cognac (or port or brandy, whatever you’ve got). Let the reduce for a minute.
Finely chop the rosemary and thyme.
Add the chopped herbs, the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce and the vegetable stock. Stir to combine and cook for about 10 minutes or until the liquids have reduced and the whole mixture is thickened.
Once thickened, add the peas and the corm and check for seasoning.
Transfer the mixture to an oven safe casserole dish and the spread the mashed potatoes all over the top of the lamb.
Shred the Cheddar cheese all over the top of the mashed potatoes to help it brown nicely in the oven.
Put the whole thing in the 400 degree oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the top is nice and brown like it is below. Once you take it out of the oven, LET IT COOL for 15-20 minutes because it will burn the shit out of your mouth. I also think it tastes better when it has a chance to cool and solidify slightly. Doing so will also make it resemble a pie more.