People are so easily thrown off the real issue. Food people are the easiest of all. Suckers. Ask them about Shepherd’s Pie and it’s simple to move them away from the real deal and distract them with talk of “Beef or Lamb?”. A quick search of the internet will expose the great and the good arguing why it must be lamb. Others take the view that beef is essential. Some miserable scribes show their complete lack of moral fiber by suggesting that a mix of the two is the answer. Pathetic.
While they are and, I’ll bet you are now, thinking that this is of some import, the real matter at hand goes unnoticed. It is an entirely different debate that I bet you’ve never even considered. The real issue is: “Potato Mountains or Ploughed Fields?” If you are not on the right side of that one, you’ll never make a real shepherd’s pie.
On the side issue of Beef V Lamb, get real. Shepherds look after sheep. Shepherd’s Pie needs lamb. The same pie with beef is a Cottage Pie. Though what cows have to do with cottages is beyond me.
Now, back to the job in hand: Ploughed Field Shepherd’s Pie. You will need the following ingredients:
- 1.5 kilos (3 lb) of minced lamb
- 2 onions
- 4 or 5 carrots
- Plenty of peas
- 2 cloves of garlic
- Half a litre (1 pint) of lamb stock (if you can get it) chicken or beef if you can’t
- A generous glass of red wine
- Cornstarch diluted in water to thicken the gravy
- 2 bay leaves
- Salt and pepper to season
- Plenty of potatoes (a lot more than the peas)
I did take a photograph of the ingredients but I forgot half the stuff so I won’t bother showing it here. Instead, here’s a shot of the beautiful garden peas. Boy, they were tasty. So tasty in fact that many did not make it past the ‘taste test’ at podding time.
Here’s what to do:
Chop and sweat the onions and garlic for about 40 minutes over a low heat. Add the carrots, also chopped, after 20 minutes.
When the onions and carrots are sweated, remove them and brown the lamb in batches, pouring off an excess fat that is released.
Put the potatoes on to boil. Add the lamb and onions / carrots / garlic mixture to a roasting dish. Put it on a low heat and add the rest of the ingredients bar the cornflour mixture. Simmer and stir until a nice consistency is reached. Add the cornflour mixture if needed to thicken things up as you go.
Add some butter and milk to the potatoes when they are cooked and drained. Mash them. When they are well mashed, mash them again. Repeat. (They need to be very well mashed.)
Make ploughed fields on top of the pie before putting it into a 200 degree C oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Take it out, photograph it in a loving fashion and serve your guests.I served mine with some cabbage sweated and fried in garlic. Very tasty.
We also had a bottle of wine brought back from the Languedoc. Very, very tasty. I suppose you want a picture of the wine too?
So, don’t be distracted by the side issues of this dish. Don’t be distracted by the wine. Remember the real issue: Ploughed Fields.