Friday, November 20, 2009

No Longer Sheepish About Shepherd's Pie

Homemade Ground Beef and Lamb Cottage Shepherd's Pie
(quite a mouthful!)

Not too long ago, I had one of the best Shepherd's Pies ever. In truth, I think I've only eaten about 5 in my whole life, (including one that was made with Yves Veggie Ground Round), and everyone of them was damn fine. This latest one was had at the Vancouver Art Gallery Cafe, one of my favourite eating spots downtown. The service, being cafeteria style, is efficient, it's in a great location, you can dine alfresco on a clear day, they have delectable desserts, and they serve drinks! Considering the food is pre-made and heated after you order it, it is all very good. And so was the Shepherd's Pie. What I liked most about their pie was that it was made with ground lamb. I'd only ever had it made with beef (or soy protein) before that. It was also served in a ramekin so when all the pie was gone, there was still the tasty jus resting at the bottom, ready to be souped up. I was inspired (again!) and decided to try making Shepherd's Pie at home. After all, the 5 or so I'd eaten had been good; I hoped mine could be too.

After researching some recipes, I found a few good ones, and fused them to create my own. Along the way, I also learned that traditionally Shepherd's Pie is made with lamb, and owns its moniker because shepherds' wives made it with, well sheep. The version with beef is actually called Cottage Pie! I decided to fuse my newly acquired meat pie name knowledge into my own dish to make Cottage Shepherd's Pie. Here's the recipe:

Rosemary and Italian Parsley are the key herbs
  • 1 large onion, diced up
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 lb ground lamb
  • 1/2 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 cup beef or chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp worchestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 2 tsp fresh or dry rosemary, chopped up
  • 2 tbsp Italian parsley, chopped up
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1 big carrot, cut into small pieces
  • 2 lbs yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut up
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large sauté pan, heat a little oil over medium-high heat and add the onion, garlic, carrot, and meat. Cook for about 10 minutes or until brown. Drain the fat and add the broth, tomato paste, w. sauce, herbs and seasonings. Simmer for about 10 minutes until the juices thicken, then add the peas and corn. Pour the mixture into a 1 1/2-quart baking dish and set it aside.

Bring the potatoes to a boil in salted water. Cook for about 20 minutes or until tender, and drain. Mash the potatoes with the butter, milk, and salt. Add a clove or 2 of garlic if you wish. Spread over the meat mixture.

Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden.

Considering how tasty Shepherd's Pie is, I always thought it'd be much harder to make, but not so at all! And I'm so glad I tried. Now, it's 6 (Cottage) Shepherd's Pies I've had, and counting...


Robyn said...

Looks great Jen! We love the VAG Cafe as well - Josh and I go there about once a month. I'll have to try their shepherd's pie the next time we're there.

Jen Low said...

Thanks Robyn! I don't think the Shepherd's Pie is a regular item, so I lucked out. Hope you get a chance to try it!