“Rain usually makes me feel mellow: curl up in a corner time, slow down, smell the furniture…” Chris Stevens, Northern Exposure.
If you are anything like me, you know why I sometimes look forward to these blissful hours of rain tapping on the window seal in the evening. The world slows down, changes the tune, becomes observant and curious. It is a good time to join the window watchers with a bowl of something hearty and warming like Shepherd’s Pie.
Cosy Shepherd’s Pie evening in
The forecast for the weekend was rain, wind and at least one evening wrapped up in a cosy blanket. I might just pass on cooking and get the Shepherd’s Pie out of the freezer. I’ll put my feet up, relax and get to catch up with all the magazines pulled out of the weekend paper bundle that Chris usually puts aside for me.
Me and Chris both love Shepherd’s Pie, and since it is an easy one to scoop of the bowl, it gives us an excuse to take it easy and eat on the lap, in the front of TV.
I like to have a backup of home-made food, on standby in the freezer. Shepherd’s Pie is one of these handy dishes, which tastes as great after sitting in the freezer for weeks, as the freshly made one.
There is nothing wrong with the cottage pie, (the one made with beef), but we both like lamb and I think that the Shepherd’s Pie is just a bit more flavorful from its step pie-brother.
This recipe below makes 6 servings of Shepherd’s pie. Think ahead “warm blanket and a comfy food forecast evening in” before you put your whole pie in one big oven dish. Just an idea.
- 800g mince lamb meat
- 2 tbsp of olive oil
- 2 medium onions - chopped finely
- 6 garlic cloves - chopped finely
- 3 medium sprigs of rosemary (or 2 tbsp of dry rosemary) - leaves picked and chopped
- 2 medium carrots or parsnips - chopped to corn size pieces
- 1 celery stick - chopped to corn size pieces
- 250 ml chicken, beef or mixed stock (any will do as long as it’s a good quality one!)
- 150 ml red, dry wine
- 200g mushrooms
- 150g frozen or tinned peas
- ½ cup of finely chopped parsley
- 1 kg of mashing potatoes
- 150ml very warm whole milk (try 100ml whole milk and 100ml of sour cream as a variation – it’s yummy!)
- 100g butter - melted in milk
- 6 tbsp hard cheese like cheddar or Swiss cheese
- Salt & pepper to taste
- In a large, deep pan, on a medium heat, sweat onions and garlic in the olive oil.
- Add the minced lamb, rosemary and smash it all with the back of a wooden spoon or spatula so it cooks through properly. You are looking for even, fine as possible mixture. Allow to simmer for 5-10 min.
- Add celery, carrots (or parsnips), mix well again, cover and allow to cook for 10 min. Remember to stir it a few times in the meantime.
- Add your stock and let it all simmer under the lid on a medium heat for 15-20 minutes.
- Pour in the wine, add parsley, peas and mushrooms. Cover the pan with the lid, and let it simmer again for 10 minutes.
- Add salt and pepper to taste and move the mixture to oven friendly dish/dishes. When done, turn the heat off and leave covered.
- Peel the potatoes and set to boil in salted water.
- Preheat oven to 400F/200C/Gas 6.
- When the potatoes are cooked through, drain them well, add warm milk, butter and mash vigorously until smooth and fluffy. When done, spoon your mash over the lamb mixture in your dish/es, sprinkle the cheese over and bake for 30 min.
- Your Shepherd’s Pie should start bubbling soon and if you like it with a bit of colour & crisp on the top turn the grill or broil function of your oven for the last 5-7 minutes of baking.