So I made this lamb shepherd’s pie the other day on a whim. I’d been given the lamb and the potatoes and I had all manner of loose vegetables in the fridge begging to be used, so I made shepherd’s pie. I looked up a Jamie Oliver recipe that had lamb and rosemary in the title for inspiration and then just free-rolled from there.
Two evolutions later, I had made a couple of stops for more ingredients and come up with a stellar dish that fed my sense of fall seclusion and comfort, and that made good use of many of the current inhabitants of my pantry. Is there any better feeling than nailing a dish of comfort food when you’re just drinking wine and riffing in the kitchen? If you want to give a go, here’s what I did:
4 rashers of applewood smoked bacon went into the skillet with 1 onion and 4 cloves of garlic to saute. added to that were some brussels sprouts sliced up and turned around on the heat for a moment or two and then 3 lbs of ground lamb went into the skillet to brown. We really like the butchers at Wholesome Choice here in Irvine for the lamb.
While the lamb browned, 2 lbs of potatoes were peeled and set to boil in salted water. (Note: at some point during this process you’re going to want to throw in a couple of sprigs of Rosemary…maybe a bay leaf or two as well. You’ll know.) In the meantime it’s a good idea to drain most, if not all of the fat off the meat (lamb can be quite fatty). Next, add a tablespoon or two of all purpose flour was sprinkled on the lamb and mixed in and then a 1/4 cup or so of red wine is added, as I happened to be drinking it at the time, along with a splash of beef or chicken broth to help create a bit of a gravy.
After that, pepper, Worcestershire sauce and salt to taste, 3 tablespoons of ketchup (or to taste) and then, to finish it off, I added about a third of a bag of Trader Joe’s Melange of Vegetables (totally cheating I know, but I use them in everything from fried race to chicken pot pies to soup. Hey! 6 kids here so they are a standard pantry go to item for me. You can totally use fresh if the idea shames you that badly). I finished it with a selection of large pieces of chopped heirloom tomatoes, which Trader Joe’s suspiciously had on offer in Fall. Perhaps it’s that amazing Southern California climate, right? I don’t know, I’ll have to look into it, but I’m very happy that I did. It added a nice touch to the dish.
Once the potatoes had cooked, I drained them and made them into mashed potatoes as I usually do, butter, milk, salt and pepper…but this time I also whipped in a tablespoon or two of the Boursin’s Garlic and Herb cheese that I had in the fridge for a nice little cheat of flavor to the mashed potatoes.
Finally, put the lamb filling into a baking dish and gently spread the mashed potatoes on top. Bake at 375 degrees until the potato topping has turned golden brown. Thereafter you can sit in front of the fire, basking in your hearty, cold weather comfort food and linger over a glass of red while you pretend the sheep have been moved into the lower pastures. Try adding a little Jethro Tull to up the atmosphere.
“Fire At Midnight”
I believe in fires at midnight —
when the dogs have all been fed.
A golden toddy on the mantle —
a broken gun beneath the bed.
Silken mist outside the window.
Frogs and newts slip in the dark –
too much hurry ruins the body
I’ll sit easy…fan the spark.