Sunday, January 9, 2011

Spicy Shepherds Pie

I grew up eating Shepherds Pie,  and its always been a favourite of mine .   So you can imagine my surprise a couple of years ago when I found out it wasn't really Shepherds pie , but was in fact a Cottage Pie.  The difference you ask ?  Is really just the meat.   A Shepherds Pie is made with lamb or mutton, while a Cottage pie is made with beef, which is what I grew up with.  After reading that, I was determined to try a real one.  It actually took me a month just to find ground lamb at a reasonable price..  but I did and made my first real Shepherds Pie :) It was awesome !! Since then I make sure to call them by their correct names . You can make them as fancy as you like or just keep them plain and simple.   This one has a few extras , but turned out really well.  

For a basic pie, you will need :
1lb of ground lamb
2 medium onions
2 large or 4 medium potatoes 
2 large carrots 
1 cup of peas

Everything else is a bonus :)  The extras 
2 chili peppers
1 jalapeno pepper
3 cloves of garlic 
2 parsnips
jar of stewed tomatoes
baby corn 
Chili Powder
Mozzarella, and cheddar 

Most of the ingredients :)  Everything is local, and half of it was organic .  

Slice and dice all the veggies into small bite sized pieces,  and give them a quick saute. They do not need to be cooked thru as it will be going into the oven.  Pour into the bottom of a lasagna pan.  

Meanwhile, boil your potatoes until tender, add some flavour here if you like,  I used Salt & Pepper, butter and Curry powder. I should note I prefer my mashed potatoes kind of dry and don't use milk.  

Brown the meat, and add to the pan.  Sprinkle on some chili powder. Now is the best time to add the peas and baby corns. 

This was a first for me,  Ive never added tomatoes before.  It worked really well and added some great flavour.  Add your gravy at this point . 2 cups works well for this pan size.   

This part can get a little tricky...  I use a serving spoon and try to get the potato topping  reasonably even .  Your oven should be  preheated to 350F.  Running the back of a fork across the top will help create soe crispy edges .
TIP:   Place you shepherds pie on a large baking tray ... they have a tendency to over flow a little, and it will save you a lot of clean up.

After about 30 minutes it should look something like this,  If you are adding cheese now is the time.  Return to the oven for an additional 15 minutes or until the cheese has melted and is too your liking .  

There you have it , enough to feed 6 people easily.  If you can wait, I like to leave it out for 5 minutes before cutting in.  Lets it cool just enough to be scarfed down, and helps the gravy set  a little,  

I prefer to serve it in a bowl.  That's it time to grab you fork and dig in :)
 There you are , a very simple hearty dinner, finished in about an hour.  This is one of those dishes, like stew and chili that actually tastes better the next day .  In a pinch it can even be eaten cold.  I hope you have enjoyed my version of a Shepherds pie ... remember the sky is the limit on what you can add to this wonderful dish !