March 31, 2010

    Shepherd's Pie

    I have to admit, while I generally roll my eyes at those who get all moony and star-struck by most celebrities, I am totally a Gordon Ramsay fangirl. There, I said it. The man is culinary genius, and while his recipes generally have long, drawn out, pretentious sounding names, they are actually much simpler to actually accomplish.

    Seeing as my grandmother is originally from Scotland, we grew up with a lot of traditional food from the United Kingdom. Most of it stars very fondly in my memories of growing up, and shepherd's pie stands as the number one dish. The problem with Americanized shepherd's pie? It lacks flavor, the mince is usually greasy and soggy, and overall the dish is exceedingly bland.

    Sound familiar? Then try this recipe - you won't be disappointed. Need more motivation? Go here and watch Ramsay himself prepare it in less than five minutes (edited, of course). Tell me that man couldn't make a grilled cheese look sexy?

    Serves 4

    Ingredients (amounts changed to rough Imperial equivalents where needed)

    2 tbsp olive oil
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    1lb (plus a smidge...actually 1.1lbs) minced lean lamb
    1 large onion, finely grated
    1 large carrot, finely grated
    2 cloves garlic
    1-2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (Lea and Perrins please!)
    1 tbsp tomato puree (paste)
    Handful of thyme sprigs, leaves picked
    1 sprig of rosemary, needles chopped
    1 cup red wine (I used a $9 cabernet sauvignon which worked quite well. Use a good drinking wine. If you are dead set against wine, you could sub for beef stock, but I would not recommend it)
    1 1/4 cups chicken stock
    1 1/4 lbs Desiree potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks (Desiree are nearly impossible to find here, use a waxy potato. To be honest, I used russet and still had a lovely mash at the end)
    50g (roughly 2 ounces) butter
    2 egg yolks
    Parmesan, for grating
    Olive oil
    Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

    1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C/gas 4 (350 degrees F).

    2. Heat the oil in a large pan until hot. Season the mince (lamb) and fry in the oil over moderate to high heat for 2-3 minutes. Stir the onions and carrot into the mince then grate the garlic in as well. Add the Worcestershire sauce, tomato puree and herbs and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour in the red wine and reduce until almost completely evaporated. Add the chicken stock, bring to the boil and simmer until the sauce has thickened

    3. Meanwhile, cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until tender. Drain then return to the hot pan over low heat to dry out briefly. Pass them through a potato ricer then beat in the egg yolks, followed by about 2 tbsp grated Parmesan. Check for seasoning

    4. Spoon the mince into the bottom of a large ovenproof dish. Using a large spoon, layer the mashed potato generously on top of the mince, starting from the outside and working your way into the middle. Grate some extra Parmesan over and season. Fluff up the mash potato with a fork to make rough peaks. Bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes, until bubbling and golden brown

    Notes from the Kitchen:

    I went ahead and used the traditional lamb here. It wasn't as expensive as I thought it would be at Whole Foods since you need so little. However, the end result gave me a wonderful flavor from the mince that I thought almost overpowered the lamb. While not traditional, I would have no problems for substituting the lamb for a very lean ground beef to make this a little more budget friendly, making sure to drain any excess grease at the initial frying stage before adding the vegetables.

    I did not have one crock of the right size to make this pie, so I ended up with four individual shepherd's pies which worked perfectly. Lesson here? Use what you have!

    This is one of those times were I was too eager to eat dinner and neglected to take a photo. Seriously, go watch Gordon make this pie. It's making me want to make some more for dinner...


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