Shepherd’s Pie is an ultimate comfort food and was originally made from chunks of lamb or mutton – probably left over from a roast.
The first mention of Shepherd’s Pie as a named dish was in 1885, but it had been around long before. It is called Shepherd’s Pie because a Shepherd looks after sheep; if the dish is made with any other type of meat it is technically a Cottage Pie.
Makes 6 individual portions:
50ml olive oil, not extra virgin
1 small onion, finely chopped
1kg lean lamb, minced
1.2ltr lamb stock
2 large carrots, peeled, finely diced
½ bunch thyme, leaves only and finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
500g mashed potatoes, enough to cover six pies
A handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
Pre-heat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Heat the olive oil in a large roasting tray on top of the cooker, add the finely chopped onion and sweat until tender.
Add the minced lamb and fry for a few minutes to break up any big lumps. Add the water and transfer the tray to the pre-heated oven.
Every 10 minutes, break up the mince with a whisk – all of the natural fat from the lamb will render out of the meat; this is correct. Carry on cooking until the lamb is golden brown in colour.
Put the cooked lamb into a colander to drain off excess fat and grease, then return it to the original tray. Place the tray on the hob, add just enough lamb stock to cover, and bring the whole thing to the boil over a medium-low heat.
Meanwhile, blanch the diced carrot in rapidly boiling salted water until soft, but not mushy, then refresh in cold water and put aside.
Gently simmer the lamb mince until it becomes quite binding in consistency. Add the chopped thyme and the blanched carrot. Adjust the salt and black pepper, according to taste.
Transfer the mince into earthenware or china pie dishes, approximately 15 to 20cm in diameter. Press the mince down to give a smooth surface onto which the potato can be piped. Using a piping bag with a large nozzle, carefully pipe an even layer of potato over the surface of the pie.
Cook the pies in an oven at 180C/gas 4 for 10 to 15 minutes, until the potato begins to turn golden brown and the pie is piping hot in the centre.
Garnish with a little chopped fresh parsley, and serve.