Tweet: This recipe so sharp it cut my shirt!
I’m not going to go all maudlin with this post…it would be easy to do so though…this type of recipe screams ‘learned at the apron strings of my dear old Granny or favourite Auntie’ its the kind of recipe that pops up with the bi-line…’the way Mum used to make it’ on chalk board menus outside awful chain-pubs, which is completely lovely…but not from my corner. Nope – I learned this dish in the fiery heat of battle……with 7 stitches in my hand and a broken finger….
What caused this deep tissue laceration and snapped digit was an argument with a fellow chef fuelled by bad cider and worse stock control ideas….a glass panel and a fire door were also involved.
So with a stitched, strapped and 1/2 plastered lower arm I found myself slap bang in the middle of Saturday night service (death is about the only excuse for missing work in The Kitchen) with some idiot demanding a Shepard’s Pie…..not a item on the menu but one the owner assured the customer we could ‘spin up’. Thankfully the constituent raw parts were at arm’s length, unfortunately for me at age 19 I had never made a Shepard’s pie before…I wasn’t even sure how many or what bit of said Shepard’s would be needed.
Like a commander in the trenches my head chef screamed the A,B,Cs of Shepard’s Pie construction over the heads of two chefs and a dishwasher across 20 feet of thunderous, steam heavy kitchen mayhem…I picked up about 30% of the instruction and decided to fill in the gaps…mostly with Ale. Surprisingly this is a bolt-easy dish, surprisingly I managed to crank out one perfectly formed crispy unctuous Pie, surprisingly I didn’t follow it out of the kitchen and beat the customer to death with it………………………..
WHAT YOU NEED – SERVES 4
2lbs minced lamb
6 medium spuds – (mashing, not waxy)
1/2 bottle of organic Ale (I used the very wonderful Whitstable Bay)
4 carrots – (cleaned and diced)
1 medium red onion – (peeled and diced)
1 level tbs plain flour
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 tps achovie paste
Salt and cracked black pepper
2 tps English mustard
Sprig of fresh Rosemary
1 small clove of garlic (minced)
75 mls milk
knob of real butter
Handful of freshly grated Pecorino
Fresh flat leaf parsley
HOW YOU DO IT
Step1: Heat some oil in a wide pan and soften the carrots and onions
Step2: As this is happening quarter and get the spuds on the boil in salted water
Step3: When the carrots and onion are soft add the lamb and teh garlic and brown really well
Step4: Reduce the heat to medium and add the mustard, Rosemary, Ale, Worcestershire and Anchovie paste – combine well season and taste. Finally scatter over the flour and allow the mix to thicken slightly. Pull off the heat, add to an oven dish and allow to cool completely
Step5: When the spuds are done drain them and run them through a potato ricer to remove any lumps and add to another deep pan.
Step6: Get this pan on a low heat and add the milk and butter to the spuds and with a wooden spoon mix to a butter mash.
Step7: At this point you can simply spoon the mash on top of the cooled lamb or level up and pipe it as I have done here.
Step8: To cook brush the spud topping with some melted butter (optional) scatter over the Pecorino cheese and roast for about 20 minutes.
The pie can be kept for a couple of days though (recommended) or oven roasted right away – serve with a killer ale, more mustard and..no broken fingers!
FEEL LIKE A BEER? TRY THIS: