Week 52: Shepherd’s Pie

Week 52! That’s a year! Actually a year and a bit but I think I missed a week or two somewhere along the line… But that’s some sort of blogaversary right?

I was going to cook something exciting and grandiose and frivolous and impressive… Lobster Thermador or sommat equally as flashy.  And then I needed to use some beans up, which usually means have a pie round at ours. So I decided to make a pie… A luxury pie magnificent enough to pay fitting tribute to a whole year of new recipes, maybe containing blackbirds. So I broached the idea of pie to my lover and his face lit up, he clasped his hands together and said “Oo yay Shepherd’s Pie!” And that was that. I’ll tackle the Blackbird Thermidor Luxury Pie another week.

There was only one book I could possibly reach for for a pie like this: The Good Granny Cookbook. Unfortunately the recipe was in the leftovers section so there was a certain amount of swapping and improvising as I’ve not really had leftovers since the great bread and butter pudding incident.

To make this for four you will need a large onion, about 450g of leftover lamb (I don’t imagine the size of meal that would yeald a pound of leftover lamb, unless you had a load of unexpected vegetarians for dinner), 2 carrots, a garlic clove, some olive oil, half a glass of red wine, tomato ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, leftover gravy (my sister can drink the stuff through a straw, so I don’t think I’ve ever seen leftover gravy), stock, 450g potatoes, 30g butter, and milk.

If you’re using actual left over meat you’ll need to cut off any gristle or fat and shove it in the food processor with the peeled and chopped onion and pulse it into a sort of course oniony mince. I bought ready minced mince, chopped the onion up really finely then sort mushed it all together… it was ok.

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Finely dice the carrots and gently sauté them in a small pan with the garlic cube (crushed) and some of the olive oil.  Start the potatoes boiling.

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Grease your pie dish and turn the oven on to 200c.  Brown the oniony mince in a large frying pan with some more olive oil.  Add the wine, a tablespoon of ketchup, 2 teaspoons of Worcestershire Sauce, the leftover gravy and ‘enough stock to stop the meat drying out’.  Like I said; leftover gravy isn’t a thing in my life, so I thought I’d make some instant. As I looked through the cupboards for some Bisto my lover said “this isn’t a gravy household” as he swished out to smoke… so I had to improvise and make gravy from cornflour and Jacobs Creek.

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I bunged the carrots and garlic in with the meat, and simmered it for about 15 minutes. I mashed the potatoes with a small knob of butter and some milk.  It came out freakishly creamy which worried me because I thought it might somehow mix in with the gravy; but it was also good because I could pipe it if I ever found a Fanny Craddock recipe.  Pour the mince and sauce into the greased pie dish and then spread the mash over the top.  Bake for 20 minutes.

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It wasn’t the special-est thing I ever made, but it was strangely satisfying – the first comfort meal of the autumn. I’ll definitely make it again, I probably won’t make the recipe exactly as written above, but everyone has their own version of shepherd’s pie, right? Pie and veg, perfect for a Sunday evening – and if you find yourself with a spare pound of lamb and a load of gravy; I could not recommend this recipe enough… Tuck in!

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Good Granny Cookbook by Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall (Short Books 2007 ISBN 978 1 906021 10 8)

good granny

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