Guest Author - Phyllis Doyle Burns
Shepherds Pie is a lamb stew topped with a layer of crisped, browned mashed potatoes. This has been a family favorite since the early colonial days in Appalachia. In early pioneer days, the pie was made with whatever vegetables were available from the garden. Here is a recipe, from my father's side of the family, that will serve six to eight people.
Cottage Pie is much the same as Shepherds Pie, the only difference is the meat you choose. Shepherds Pie recipe uses mutton, Cottage Pie uses beef. Many cooks like to mince the meat -- I prefer small bite size pieces to give more of a taste of the meat.
First, make the stew. Ingredients needed are:
2 pounds lean boneless leg of lamb, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 pound turnips, peeled and dice
1/2 pound carrots, peel and dice
1 medium onion, peel and dice
4 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/4 teaspoon powdered thyme
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 cups beef stock (water or vegetable stock can be used instead)
1 small can tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste
In a Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium high heat then add the lamb, a little at a time so all sides are nicely browned. Using a slotted spoon, remove browned meat and place in a bowl.
Add all vegetables to pan and saute for about three to five minutes. Return meat to pan and add the thyme. Add flour (sprinkle over meat and vegetables). Cook over low heat for 3 minutes, stirring frequently, to prevent flour from lumping.
Add beef stock and turn heat to medium high. Bring stew just to a boil, stir in the tomato paste, and season with salt and pepper. Cover and continue cooking over low heat for 45 to 60 minutes, or until lamb is tender.
Then prepare the potato topping. Ingredients needed are:
2 pounds potatoes, peel and quarter
1/4 pound butter or margarine
1 egg yolk
Salt and Pepper to taste
While the stew is simmering, place the potatoes in salted cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil the potatoes until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain, and then mash the potatoes using a potato masher or hand-held electric mixer with the butter, egg, yolk, salt and pepper. Place the mixture in a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip.
Just before serving, preheat oven broiler. Now this is where you can get creative. Place stew into a large baking dish or individual dishes, and pipe the potatoes on the top, using a star tip and making separate flower-like small mounds, or a wide ruffle tip to create a lattice work type top. Place 6 inches from the broiler till potatoes are golden browned. Serve immediately.
I like to use a lasagne pan to put together the pie. It really makes a nice presentation with more space for the piped mashed potatoes and creativity of design.