Shepherds Pie

Yesterday the rain began, grey with wintery teeth. The only possible option was to spend the day inside, eating soul food. Shepherds pie is quintessentially English and it adorns many a winter table with its voluptuous depth and comfort. A rich filling of lamb mince is topped with fluffy mashed potatoes, and baked until crisp and golden. It is a perfect dish of happiness. It can easily be eaten all on its own or paired with a peppery salad. Use the best lamb mince and a good quality red wine, these really provide all the flavour. Importantly, try not to dry out the mince by overcooking it, and make sure there is enough fluid in the filling to give the pie a luscious texture. The mash in this recipe is enriched with butter, milk and egg yolk. Particularly decadent but it's an absolute must. This pie never lasts the day in our house, it's pretty impossible to stop eating it once you start.

Recipe (serves 2-4)

500g organic lamb mince
1 large carrot, grated
1 large onion, grated
3 cloves garlic, crushed
few sprigs of rosemary
1 tbsp worcester sauce
2 tbsp tomato puree/ paste
1 cup good chicken stock
1 small glass good red wine
4/5 medium maris piper potatoes, cut into chunks
25g butter
60ml milk or cream
1 large organic egg yolk
grated parmesan cheese
salt and black pepper

Brown mince in a heavy pan over a high heat. Add carrot, onion, garlic and rosemary. Cook until soft and lightly coloured. Add wine and allow to reduce. Add worcester sauce and tomato puree, mix in well. Add chicken stock and simmer until thickened, about 5-10 minutes. Season to taste. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

In the meantime, boil potatoes until soft. Drain and return to the stove. Dry out excess water over a medium heat, be careful not to let them burn. Mash. Add butter and incorporate, then add the milk and mix until smooth and velvety. Finally add egg yolk working quickly to avoid scrambling. Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 200C. Lightly oil a 20cm or similar pyrex dish. Spread the mince filling evenly in the bottom of the dish, it should be about an inch high. Top with mashed potatoes. Using a fork, scratch the surface of the mash to give the top texture and extra crispy bits. Sprinkle with grated parmesan and add a few extra tiny knobs of butter. Bake for 25-30 minutes until crisp and golden. Allow to cool a bit before serving.

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