As a chill chases away the warm summer air, and the trees start to glow in crimsons, bright oranges and yellows, we Canadians begin to feel the urge to settle into hibernation mode. Sweaters go on our backs, scarves around our necks, and we’re all clutching a warm cup of coffee or tea as we drop our kids off at school or set off to work on these brisk fall mornings. Although not all of us do at this point, actually some never do, I’ve pretty much abandoned the barbecue and returned to my kitchen oven. So, with that change, I have to change my menu too – pork chops to roast pork, BBQ salmon to baked white fish, and grilled veggies to stewed veggies. Of all the barbecued foods I enjoy however, grilled lamb chops are my favourite and I hate to give up the taste of lamb for months on end. So I have a collection of great lamb dishes and one of my favourites is Shepherd’s Pie. Its so savoury and rich – perfect for the cooler days.
Shepherd’s Pie, according to sources, originated sometime during the 18th century in Northern England and Scotland after the introduction of potatoes to the area. This, of course, appeals to my Scottish heritage…but more so to my taste-buds!! This recipe, from The All New All Purpose Joy of Cooking (1997) cookbook, is the best I’ve ever eaten. I hope you’ll enjoy it too.
Boil 1 1/2 lbs (680g) of potatoes and cook until tender. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Mash the potatoes adding the cooking water along with:
1 tbsp butter
Salt and Pepper
Beat with a wooden spoon until fluffy.
Preheat the oven to 400 F (200 C).
While the potatoes are cooking, heat in a medium skillet over medium-low heat:
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 15 minutes. Increase heat to medium and add:
1 lb (454 g) leftover cooked lamb, finely chopped, or raw ground lamb
Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring to brown evenly. If using raw lamb, cook for 10 minutes more, stirring and breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon. Spoon off any fat. Add:
1 tbsp flour
Cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add:
3/4 cup beef or vegetable stock
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary or 1 tsp dried
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly, then remove to a 9-inch pie plate or cooking dish. Spread the mashed potatoes over the top, making irregular peaks with the tines of the fork. Scatter over the top:
2 tbsp cold butter, cut into small pieces
Bake until the potatoes are browned and the dish is heated all the way through, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool slightly, then serve directly from the baking dish.
Now EAT IT!! 😀