For anyone who took "Good Eats" with Mr. Dancy and Mr. Guerriero last week, this is the recipe for the shepherd's pie. Shepherd's pie is not actually a pie since it has no crust, but is in fact a meat and potato creation of awesomeness.
In class, we made two versions. One was topped with regular Yukon Gold potatoes, and another had a top of sweet potatoes. If you use sweet potatoes, just use the same procedure described in the recipe with an equal amount of them. We also used chopped parsnips, an equal amount to the carrots added at the same time. As the recipe calls for all lamb, we ground a mix of lamb and beef in class and used that. Ground meat is always better when you can grind it yourself.
Lastly, I left out the peas because I think they're gross, but some people like them. If you do, then go ahead and throw them in!
It is adapted from Alton Brown of Food Network (2008), and is best made in a cast iron pan and served warm, but not wicked hot. Enjoy!
For the potatoes:
• 1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes (or sweet potatoes)
• 1/4 cup half-and-half
• 2 ounces unsalted butter
• 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1 egg yolk
For the meat filling: • 2 tablespoons canola oil (I like olive oil better)
• 1 cup chopped onion
• 2 carrots, peeled and diced small (+2 parsnips also peeled and diced)
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 1/2 pounds ground lamb (or half lamb and half beef to total 1 1/2 lbs)
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• 2 teaspoons tomato paste
• 1 cup chicken broth
• 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
• 2 teaspoons freshly chopped rosemary leaves
• 1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves
• 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch dice. Place in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Set over high heat, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, uncover, decrease the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until tender and easily crushed with tongs, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.
Place the half-and-half and butter into a microwave-safe container and heat in the microwave until warmed through, about 35 seconds. Drain the potatoes in a colander and then return to the saucepan. Mash the potatoes and then add the half and half, butter, salt and pepper and continue to mash until smooth. Stir in the yolk until well combined.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the filling:
Place the oil into a 12-inch (cast iron) saute pan and set over medium high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and carrots (and parsnips) and saute just until they begin to take on color, approximately 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.
Sprinkle the meat with the flour and toss to coat, continuing to cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste, chicken broth, Worcestershire, rosemary, thyme, and stir to combine.
Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly 10 to 12 minutes or until the sauce is thickened slightly.
Add the corn to the meat mixture. (If you are not using a pan that can go in the oven, then transfer the meat mix into an 11 by 7-inch glass baking dish). Top with the mashed potatoes, starting around the edges to create a seal to prevent the mixture from bubbling up and smooth with a rubber spatula. Place on a parchment lined half sheet pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25 minutes or just until the potatoes begin to brown.
Remove to a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.
If you're interested, you can watch Alton Brown's episode on shepherd's pie. It is supposed to be a version of the movie Sweeney Todd with Johnny Depp: