This recipe, handed down to me by a friend in the form of index cards, was originally from the beloved Joy of Cooking.
Start by chopping up 1-1/2 lb. potatoes into rough 1-inch cubes for boiling. Fill a large pot with enough water to cover the potatoes and bring to a boil. Once the water boils, add the potatoes to the water and return the water to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium to keep the water at a simmer. Cook the potatoes until fully tender, about fifteen minutes.
While, cooking the potatoes, prepare the vegetables. Use one medium carrot, a celery stalk, and a medium onion (a classic combination known as a mirepoix).
Dice the carrot, celery, and onion and place in a bowl. Assemble the rest of the ingredients: 1 tablespoon flour, 1 teaspoon each of dried rosemary and dried thyme, 1 cup beef broth, and 1 pound of ground lamb or beef.
When the potatoes are tender, remove them from the water into a large bowl, reserving 1/2 cup of the water. Mash the potatoes with 1 Tbs. butter, the 1/2 cup of reserved water. Add salt and ground white pepper to taste while mashing. I use white pepper in my mashed potatoes so black flecks of pepper are not visible in the finished product. Feel free to use the pepper of your choice.
After the potatoes have been mashed, set them aside. Heat 3 Tbs. vegetable oil or clarified butter in a large pot over medium heat.
Add the diced onion, carrot, and celery and stir until the vegetables are coated.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about fifteen minutes. This is a good time to preheat your oven to 400°F.
Increase the heat to medium-high and add the ground meat. Use a wooden spoon (or the potato masher you used on the potatoes) to break the meat apart while cooking.
Cook the ground meat while stirring until no longer pink, about five minutes.
Tilt the pot and allow the excess fat to run to one corner. Spoon off the excess fat.
Add 1 Tbs. flour to the mixture. Mix and cook for a couple minutes while stirring. The flour is added here to help thicken up the gravy that we'll prepare in this mixture. We cook it for a couple minutes during this step so there will not be a raw flour taste to our final dish.
Add the beef stock, dried thyme, dried rosemary, and nutmeg. Cook while stirring until the liquid has thickened, about 5 minutes. While the gravy thickens, add salt and ground black pepper to taste.
Pour the meat mixture into a casserole or baking pan.
Cover meat mixture with the mashed potatoes and fluff the top of the potatoes with a fork. This will allow the bits of potato sticking up to brown and form a crispy crust. Instead of fluffing the potatoes, you can use the fork to carve patterns into the potatoes producing a dramatic crust.
Cut 2 Tbs. of butter into small pieces and sprinkle over the top of the potatoes. Cover with a healthy amount of paprika. (Optionally, an ounce or two of finely grated cheese, like parmesan, can be used to top the potatoes.)
Place the shepherd's pie into the oven onto a rack in the center of the oven. After thirty minutes, the potatoes should have formed the golden brown crust. Remove from the oven and allow to rest ten minutes before serving.}?>
Shepherd's Pie (serves four to six)
|1-1/2 lb. (700 g) russet potatoes||boil until tender (15 min.)||mash||season to taste|
|1/2 cup (120 mL) water reserved from boiling potatoes|
|1 Tbs. (14 g) unsalted butter|
|ground white pepper|
|Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C)|
|3 Tbs. (45 mL) vegetable oil||heat||med-low until tender||cook until meat is no longer pink||mix and cook||stir in and cook until liquid thickens||season to taste||cover with potatoes and fluff with fork||drop butter pieces on top||cover with paprika||bake 400°F (205°C) 30 min.|
|1 medium (110 g) onion||dice|
|1 medium (61 g) carrot|
|1 medium (40 g) celery stalk|
|1 pound (450 g) ground lamb|
|1 Tbs. (8 g) all-purpose flour|
|1 tsp. (1.2 g) dried rosemary|
|1 tsp. (1 g) dried thyme|
|1 pinch ground nutmeg|
|1 cup (235 mL) beef broth|
|ground black pepper|
|1-3/4 lb. (800 g) mashed potatoes|
|2 Tbs. (28 g) butter||cut up into small pieces|