We always called this Shepherd’s Pie though, technically it’s a Cottage Pie because it’s made with beef and not lamb like it’s sheepish rival. So on that premise I have never eaten a real shepherd’s pie, I don’t know many Irish people who did, we would have to be stubborn and call it the wrong name and then refuse to change it.
Just like recent recipe this one is based on a need to be comforted by hot, steaming saucy food. Shepherd’s pie is a bit of a production to make though, I mean it’s not difficult it’s just an effort. If you have four or more hungry heads at your table it’s worth it. The leftovers never seem to retain their nice wetness so don’t bank on having dinner for tomorrow, anyway it screams seconds. If you have family or friends over this is great to make as you can do all your boiling and toiling, assemble the goodies and then clean up the kitchen only to produce, seemingly effortlessly, a beautiful dish from your oven without a sweat. I love peas and carrots with this, though I took the risk of cooking tiny carrot dice into this and my seven-year-old painstakingly ate around each microscopic morsel. For our continuingly lousy howling wind and rain, stay in and whip this up for yourself and your lucky loved ones.
Shepherd’s (or cottage if you insist) Pie
You will need one 20x30cm Pyrex or gratin dish
1kg good floury potatoes, peeled
Milk and butter for mashing
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
500g good quality minced beef
1 litre beef stock, I use Oxo or Knorr cubes ( strike me down!)
1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil and add your peeled potatoes, cook for 20-30 mins depending on their size.
2. Meanwhile melt the butter over a medium heat in a heavy-bottomed pan
3. Cook then onion and carrot slowly for at least 10 mins, add the meat
4. Brown the meat all over and cook for about 10 mins, add a tblsp of flour bind the meat for the sauce and cook this for one or two more minutes.
5. If your potatoes are cooked then pour the water from the pot into the meat and crumble in the stock cube. Stir the sauce and cook it over a low heat for about 20 mins.
6. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C
7. Mash the potatoes, I use a potato ricer, a great device like a giant garlic crusher. Heat a little milk and butter and squash the spuds over it with the ricer. When all the spuds are done whip up the mixture. This is the best mashed potato you will eat, no lumps and nice and fluffy. Be warned though that it doesn’t keep, the ricer does something scientific to the spuds that turns them within a day. Season with salt and pepper.
8. Pour the meat sauce into your dish and top with the potatoes. If you are new to this do it carefully and join up the gaps as you go along. Make any pattern you like on the top.
9. Bake this in the oven for about 40 mins until golden and crusty. Leave to rest for ten minutes while you cook your vegetables. Scoop out onto warm plates and devour.