After Matthew’s hard work at making lasagna, our family gathered together and discussed changing up “Kids in the Kitchen” just a little. In an effort to learn more about cuisines from various cultures, we wrote the names of countries on slips of paper, and the kids each drew a country. They each had the option of making whatever dish they desired, as long as it was a traditional dish eaten in the country they selected. Brittany drew England, so we immediately began researching traditional British foods. After sifting through Yorkshire puddings, recipes for bubble and squeak, and countless roast beef recipes, we settled on one delicious choice: Shepherd’s Pie.
I’ve posted a recipe for Shepherd’s Pie before, but it has been a long while since we’ve prepared this family favorite. This is a dish that our kids devour. With a ground meat base that’s bursting with flavor, plus a delicious, creamy mashed potato topping, how could you go wrong? Brittany was loving every bite, and Matthew couldn’t help but utter “Nom, nom nom!” over and over again.
This recipe originates from Gordon Ramsay, and I’ve stuck pretty closely to the original. My big change, other than doubling the recipe, was utilizing a food processor to mince the onion, carrot, and garlic until it was nearly a paste. This allowed the vegetables to become part of the sauce, rather than being detectable (read: the kids can’t tell there are carrots in the dish). I also used half beef and half lamb. I love (and prefer) lamb, but I wanted a milder flavor in order to please the whole family. Although this recipe does take longer to prepare than some alternatives, the results are well worth it. Reducing the wine and the broth allows the flavors to concentrate into the sauce, which seasons the meat and sauce in a manner that you just can’t duplicate with a quick shake of spices. I hope that as the temperatures drop with the coming of autumn, that this dish will find its way to your supper table, and will have you, too, uttering “nom, nom, nom!”
Shepherd’s Pie, adapted from Gordon Ramsay
1 large yellow onion, peeled and cut into quarters
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into large pieces
4 cloves garlic, peeled
3 T olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground lamb
3 1/2 T Worcestershire sauce
2 T tomato paste
5-6 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves picked
1 large sprig rosemary, needles chopped finely
2 c red wine (I used a nice bottle of cabernet)
3 c chicken stock
4 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
6 T butter
4 egg yolks
6 T freshly grated Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add the onion, carrot, and garlic together in the food processor and “blitz” until the vegetables are finely minced and nearly resemble a paste. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large, wide frying pan over medium-high heat. Season the ground beef and lamb with salt and pepper and add to the oil, and brown for 2-3 minutes, breaking into small bits with a spatula. Add the onion, carrot and garlic, and stir to cook for another minute. Add the Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste and herbs, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring nearly constantly. Pour in the red wine and reduce until nearly evaporated (this may take up to 20 minutes). Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil and simmer until reduced. (this may take another 15-20 minutes) The sauce should be thickened, but not completely evaporated.
Meanwhile, boil the potatoes in salted water until tender. Drain the potatoes, and pass them through a potato ricer. (Don’t have a potato ricer? You can opt to use a hand mixer and beat the potatoes until smooth. I do recommend a potato ricer, as it results in a nice, light, fluffy mash.) Beat in the egg yolks, butter, and about 4 tablespoons of the grated Parmesan. Check for seasoning, and add salt if necessary.
Spoon the meat mixture into the bottom of a 13X9 inch baking dish. Using a large spoon, layer the mashed potato generously on top of the meat mixture. Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan over the top. Fluff up the mashed potato with a fork to make rough peaks. (Alternatively, you can do as I did here, and use a icing bag and pipe the mash into little “Hershey’s kissed-shaped mounds” to make it look pretty.) Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until bubbling and golden brown.