Kitchen Table Shepherd’s Pie | Serves 4-6
Shepherd’s Pie is a chunky, tender stew under a layer of mashed potatoes, made extra creamy with hot milk, cream and butter. There is nothing quite as tasty as a classic shepherd’s pie made the old fashioned way, yet there are as many versions of shepherd’s pie as there are layers of an onion, and variations are found in almost every cuisine around the world.
What is often called Shepherds pie is made from lamb, and Cottage pies are made from beef. My version is made with a lamb, although if you prefer beef, it’s just as delicious. Shepherd’s Pie is the still the ultimate comfort dish for the cook (and the eater), filling and easy to make ahead, ready to pop in the hot oven just as the family gathers around the kitchen table.
1 1/2 pounds (about 4) russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup half-and-half
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 egg yolk
The Meat Filling:
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, pressed and minced
1 pound ground lamb (or beef)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup chicken broth
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons freshly chopped rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
½ teaspoon paprika
Place the potatoes in a medium saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, uncover, add a tablespoon of sea salt, and decrease the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until tender and easily crushed with a fork or soft enough to pierce with a knife, approximately 25 to 30 minutes.
Drain in a colander. Wipe out any dirt residue left from the potatoes with a paper towel, and pour in the half-and-half and butter and heat over low heat until butter is melted, about 1 minute. Return the potatoes to the saucepan and masher with the warmed milk, seasoning salt and pepper and continue to mash until smooth. Stir in the yolk until well combined. This can be done with a hand beater or electric mixer to make the potatoes really smooth and creamy.
While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the filling. Place the cooking oil into a large sauté pan and set over medium high heat. Add the onion and carrots and sauté just until they begin to soften, approximately 3 minutes. Add the garlic and the lamb, salt and pepper and cook until browned and cooked through, approximately 5 minutes. Sprinkle the meat with the flour and toss to coat, continuing to cook for another minute.
Add the tomato paste, chicken broth, Worcestershire, rosemary, thyme, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly 10 to 12 minutes or until the sauce is thickened slightly.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Spread the lamb mixture evenly into an 8″x8″ glass baking dish. Add a layer of frozen peas, and with a large serving spoon, spread out with the mashed potatoes, starting around the edges (to create a seal to prevent the mixture from bubbling up) until the top is fully covered. With the back of a large serving spoon (or rubber spatula) twist the potatoes to form little peaks, as if you were decorating a cake. Sprinkle with paprika and place in the hot oven. Bake for 20 minutes or just until the potatoes begin to brown. Remove to a cooling rack for at least 10 minutes before serving. Serve with sweet pickles!