Shepherd’s Pie is a savory dish made of minced lamb that originated in England but also made the jump to Ireland, where it became a popular comfort food. While Shepherd’s Pie can be made with freshly cooked ground meat, it also is a fine way to use leftovers from a previous meal. Shepherd’s Pie is commonly mistaken for Cottage Pie, which is very similar, yet tends to use beef as the meat of choice.
Many families have their own ancestral recipes for Shepherd’s Pie, but for those looking to cook the dish for the first time, try “Shepherd’s Pie,” courtesy of Alton Brown, which appeared in Season 12 of his hit show, “Good Eats.”
Yield: 8 servings
11⁄2 pounds russet potatoes
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 carrots, peeled and finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
11⁄2 pounds ground lamb
13⁄4 teaspoons kosher salt
3⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1⁄4 cup half-and-half
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large egg yolk
1⁄2 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
1⁄2 cup English peas, fresh or frozen
1. Heat oven to 400 F.
2. Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1⁄2-inch dice. Put them in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Set said pan over high heat, cover and bring to a boil. Uncover, drop the heat to maintain a simmer, and cook until tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
3. Heat the oil in an 11-inch saute pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and carrots and saute just until they begin to take on color, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir to combine. Add the meat, salt and pepper, and cook until browned and cooked through, approximately 3 minutes.
4. Sprinkle the meat with the flour, toss to coat, and continue to cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste, broth, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, and thyme and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then decrease the heat to low, cover, and simmer slowly until the sauce is thickened slightly, 10 to 12 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, combine the half-and-half and butter in a microwave-safe container and nuke until warmed through, about 35 seconds.
6. Drain the potatoes and return them to the saucepan. Mash the potatoes (a masher is an excellent tool for this, though a hand mixer will do), then add the hot half-and-half mixture, as well as the salt and pepper. Mash to smoothness, then stir in the egg yolk.
7. Add the corn and peas to the meat mixture and spread evenly in a 7-by-11-inch glass baking dish. Top with the mashed potatoes, starting around the edges to create a seal to prevent the mixture from bubbling over, and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Place on a half sheet pan lined with parchment paper on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25 minutes, or just until the potatoes begin to brown. Remove to a cooking rack and let rest for at least 15 minutes before serving.