I have always believed that the greatest tasting food isn’t the fanciest of foods. It doesn’t include special hard to find ingredients that no one has ever heard of, or use cooking techniques that make absolutely no sense. Growing up my mom would refer to her simple go to recipes as “Poor Man’s Meals.” Not because they were poor by any means, but because little to no effort was involved and they usually included staple ingredients that were always kept in the refrigerator.
Shepard’s Pie (also known as Cottage Pie) is one of those meals, which basically consists of carrot, celery, onion, lamb and potatoes. There isn’t anything fru fru about it. It’s a rustic dish that originated back from around 1791, when the potato was being advertised as an edible and affordable crop amongst the poor and modest rural workers. It later evolved into a way to clean out the refrigerator and get rid of leftovers. There are a lot of different variations on this dish, but this is the one that I find to be the tastiest and the most authentic. It is a truly simple to make meal, that is savory and delicious.
The original recipe was adapted from Saveur.com and can be found here.
Yields 6 servings
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 large carrot, finely chopped
- 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp. tomato paste
- 1⁄2 c. red wine
- 1⁄2 c. beef stock
- 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 (15-oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes in juice, crushed by hand
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 lb. russet potatoes, peeled
- 1⁄2 c. heavy cream
- 8 tbsp. unsalted butter
- Heat oil in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Add lamb, and cook, stirring, until browned all over, 10 to 12 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl and set aside. Add celery, garlic, carrot, and onion to pan, and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste, and cook, stirring, until lightly caramelized, about 2 minutes. Add wine, and cook, stirring to scrape bottom of pan, until wine evaporates, about 8 minutes Add reserved lamb, stock, Worcestershire, bay leaves, and tomatoes, and cook, stirring, until slightly reduced, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper, and transfer to a 9″ deep-dish pie plate; set aside.
- Heat oven to 400°. Place potatoes in a 4-qt. saucepan, and cover with water by 1″; bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until tender, about 30 minutes; drain. Meanwhile, bring cream and butter to simmer in a 1-qt. saucepan; keep warm. Transfer potatoes to a food mill or potato ricer, and process into a bowl; add hot cream and butter, season with salt and pepper, and whisk until smooth and fluffy. Spoon potatoes over meat filling in dish, spreading to cover to the edge; drag tines of fork lightly over potatoes to create ridges all over. (Alternatively, fill a piping bag with the potatoes and pipe them in rows over the filling.) Bake until potatoes are golden brown and filling is heated through, about 45 minutes. Let cool 20 minutes; serve with peas (optional).