Sunday, March 17, 2013

Shepherd's Pie

brown and delicious - just 3-5 minutes under the broiler
lots of amazing flavors in this pot
fluffy mashed potatoes

perfectly browned lamb
raw lamb tossed with flour and salt & pep

Happy St Patty's Day, Gour-maybe followers! In honor of the holiday, and my Irish heritage, I decided to make some Irish comfort food (and cure for a bit of a hangover) - Shepherd's Pie. The story goes that these meat pies were originally made from beef and called "Cottage" pies. However, with lamb, they are called "Shepherd's Pie" because it's made from sheep. A little Irish fun fact. There are lots of versions out there, but I chose to adapt a Gourmet Magazine recipe, because I like the fact that it uses chunks of lamb (vs ground) and has lots of savory flavors from the leeks and turnips. I added sunchokes because I am obsessed with the flavor. You can leave them out and substitute 1/2 C more potatoes. This takes about 3 hours from start to finish, but it's perfect for a weekend dinner and will yield lots of leftovers. And who really needs an excuse for a delicious lamb and potato situation to happen on their dinner plate? Get the recipe  and steps after the jump.

Shepherd's Pie (Serve 6-8)* Adapted from Gourmet Magazine
You will need: 

For lamb and vegetable filling
  • 1/2 lb golden pearl onions
  • 1/2 large white onion
  • 2 large leeks (white and pale green parts only), cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices and washed to remove any dirt
  • 2 lb boneless lamb leg, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 3 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 4 T all-purpose flour + 2 T Addl
  • 3 1/2 T unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 T chopped garlic
  • 1 cup dry white wine like Pinot Grigio
  • 1 1/2 T tomato paste
  • 1.5 cup beef broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh sage
  • 5 carrots, cut diagonally into 1/3-inch-thick slices
  • 2 medium turnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

For mashed potato topping
  • 3 lbs Russet potatoes, peeled, in 1 inch dice
  • 1/4 lb sunchokes/jerusalem artichokes, peeled, in 1 inch dice (or 1/2 c additional potato)
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup 2% milk
  • 3 T unsalted butter
  • 1 T kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese - fresh

Preheat oven to 350°F.  First, blanch pearl and white onions in a 2- to 3-quart pot of boiling salted water 1 minute, then transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice cold water to stop cooking. Drain onions and peel, trimming root ends with a paring knife.

Pat diced lamb dry and sprinkle with 3 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Put lamb and 4 tablespoons flour in a medium bowl and toss to coat lamb. 

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large stockpot over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then brown the lamb, working in two batches. Use tongs to turn the lamb as it browns, about 5 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon garlic and cook, stirring, 2 more minutes. Transfer browned lamb and garlic to a plate and repeat with remaining lamb and tablespoon garlic. 

Add wine to pot  and deglaze by boiling over high heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, 1 minute. Stir in the tomato paste and bring to a boil, stirring, until liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add broth, water, thyme, browned lamb with any juices, onions, leeks, carrots, turnips, remaining teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer over moderately high heat, then remove from heat. Cover and braise lamb and vegetables in middle of oven, stirring once or twice, until lamb is tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Add more beef stock if necessary to maintain a sauce. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Mashed Potato Topping
Peel and chop potatoes and sunchokes into one inch cubes. Place in medium stock pot. Cover potatoes with  salted, cold water and simmer, uncovered, until very tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain in a colander. 

In the same stock pot, bring cream, milk, and butter to a simmer - use medium heat. Stir so that butter melts completely. Add salt and pepper.  Force hot potatoes and sunchokes through a food mill into hot cream mixture and stir to combine. Keep warm, covered and set aside. If this cools to much, just reheat on low, so you have a warm mixture to top your filling.

Putting it all together
Set oven to Broil. Stir remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons butter and remaining 2 tablespoons flour in a small bowl to form a thick paste. Spoon 1 cup cooking liquid from stock pot into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Whisk in butter and flour paste, then simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir mixture into lamb and vegetables. Pour lamb and vegetables into a 3 quart casserole dish. Spread evenly. Spoon potatoes over lamb and vegetables and spread evenly with a fork, making a pattern with tines. Sprinkle evenly with Parmesan cheese. Broil about 3 inches from heat until top is golden, about 3 minutes. 

Serve immediately! Enjoy. 

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