REALLY LAMBY SHEPHERD'S PIE (serves 4)
500g lamb mince
1 onion, chopped
10 cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 sticks of celery, trimmed and diced finely
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced finely
4 chestnut mushrooms, chopped finely
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 large tsp mint sauce (the vinegary kind)
3 large tsp lamb stock powder or 2 lamb stock cubes (in which case, don't use any additional salt)
600ml hot water
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped finely
sea salt & black pepper
2 tsp cornflour.
For the mashed potato :
4-5 large floury potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
a large knob of butter
2-3 tbsp single cream (or milk will do)
sea salt & black pepper.
1. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the chunks of potato. Replace the lid and simmer until the potato chunks fall easily from the point of a knife. Drain them well and replace into the warm pan.
2. Whilst the potatoes are still hot, add the butter, cream (or milk) and a good pinch of sea salt and ground black pepper. Mash until the potatoes are smooth and creamy. Set aside (trying not to eat too many of them!).
3. In a deep frying pan, add the minced lamb and dry fry on a high heat until all the water has evaporated, the fat has rendered down and the meat is beginning to caramelise (around 10-15 minutes). Remove the meat to a bowl and set aside. Drain off all but 1-2 tbsp of the fat.
4. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion to the lamb fat in the pan. Fry gently, until the onions have turned transparent, then have begun to gain colour, then have turned golden brown and are beginning to caramelise, all of which should take 10-15 minutes.
5. Add the cherry tomatoes and continue cooking for another 3-4 minutes or until the tomatoes are softened and beginning to fall apart.
6. Add the celery, carrot and mushroom and increase the heat slightly. Cook until the vegetables have softened slightly and are beginning to take on a little colour.
7. Reduce the heat back to medium and re-introduce the meat to the pan. Stir to combine.
8. Add the tomato ketchup, mint sauce, lamb stock powder and water. Stir gently to combine and bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the flavours are well combined.
9. Add the parsley and some pepper and stir to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needs be.
10. Place the cornflour into a small bowl and add the minimum amount of water to get it moving as a paste.
11. Remove the pan from the heat and add half the cornflour mixture, stirring furiously to prevent it coagulating into a solid mass. If you stir successfully, the mixture should begin to thicken. Add as much of the remainder of the cornflour as is necessary to achieve your preferred texture. I like my mixture to be quite thick.
12. Taking a deep casserole dish, decant the meat mixture into the dish and smooth the top.
13. Add small blobs of mashed potato across the top of the meat mixture, taking care not to press the potato down into the meat. When in the oven, the meat mixture will expand and marry up properly with the potato, so if you press it down now, you may well find your potato disappears in the oven! As a final flourish, run a fork lightly over the top of the potato, creating a rough texture that will brown easily in the heat.
14. The pie can now wait until you are ready to put it in the oven. Alternatively, place into a pre-heated oven (turn it on just before stage 3 above - 180degC/350degF/Gas 4) for a minimum of 45 minutes or until the gravy is bubbling up around the edges and the potato has browned.
Serve with steamed vegetables.