Shepherd’s Pie

This is probably my favourite dish that uses up left-overs, although it’s a great dish in its own right made with fresh lamb mince. When I make a roast I always do more vegetables and gravy than I need, specifically so that I can make a shepherd’s pie. And there is still more than enough filling left to be encased by a rich buttery pastry for pasties.

The pie can be served just as it is although some savoy cabbage stir-fried with a little garlic and a few caraway seeds would be a fine accompaniment.

I blitz the roasted lamb in the food processor as I much prefer the finer texture you get in this pie. It also brings out the flavour of the lamb more. I only let the star anise remain for a few minutes before removing it: for me, the merest hint of the aniseed is enough but the flavour enhancement it provides is wonderful. Alternatively, a splash of Worcestershire sauce can be used.

I use a mash made up with potatoes that have been baked in their skins until soft: this gives a much deeper flavoured potato topping than you get by just boiling. To enhance the flavour further I then simmer some of the baked skins in some milk before straining and adding the milk to the potatoes before mashing and topping.

As an alternative topping, a mixture of parsnips and potatoes is hard to beat, although roasted butternut squash mixed with the potato adds a sweetness and a vibrancy.

Shepherd’s Pie

  • selection of vegetables left over from the roast (or prepare fresh by dicing and sautéing in a little oil, butter and seasoning until soft): eg) swede, carrots, leeks and peas.
  • gravy
  • roast lamb – blitzed until fairly fine in the food processor
  • fresh mint or a teaspoon or so of mint sauce
  • potatoes – baked in their skins
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 bay leaf
  • large glass of red wine
  • grated cheese – any mature type will do, (optional)
  1. Fry the lamb, star anise and bay leaf in a hot pan with just a little oil for a few minutes, stirring all the time. Some of the lamb will stick to the pan and go crusty but that is great for the flavour. Pour in the wine. Reduce until most of the wine has evaporated. Add the gravy and mint/mint sauce and bring to a simmer.
  2. Remove the star anise and add the vegetables. Simmer gently for about 20 minutes. Check seasoning and remove bay leaf. Thicken if necessary – you don’t want it to be too runny as it won’t hold the topping. Conversely, if it is too thick dilute with a little stock. Pour into a pie dish.
  3. Scoop the flesh from the potatoes and season well. Boil a few of the baked potato skins in a little milk and simmer for a few minutes. Strain over the potato flesh through a sieve, using a spoon to push out maximum flavour, and mix well to give a smooth mash.
  4. Top the meat mixture with the mash and sprinkle over a little cheese, if using. Bake in a preheated oven at 160C (fan) for about 30 minutes. Leave to stand for about 5 minutes before serving.
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