A slow cooked and home cooked favorite dinner of mine is Shepherd’s Pie! It is at its best of course when you use Harrison Valley Farm’s ground lamb. A very close second is from a local pub in Ireland! Shepherd’s Pie or Casserole of Mutton originated over 150 years ago in medieval England where meat was often cooked with dried fruit spices and put into a pastry dough “coffin” to preserve it because there was no refrigeration. Adding a layer of mashed potatoes on top came later after potatoes were brought to England from the “new world.” Lamb or veal were the meat choice, and raisins, currents and candied citrus fruit peel were added too. Mace, nutmeg and cloves were the seasonings used. My favorite Shepherd’s Pie recipe comes from the Joy of Cooking 75th Anniversary Edition Cookbook–I’ve adjusted it slightly. It takes me about 40 minutes to make and 30 minutes to cook:
For 8 servings:
Peel and cook about 2 1/2 pounds of organic potatoes–about 8 mediums size potatoes. Drain, add a little butter and mash. Save some of the boiled water to add back in so the mashed potatoes are moist and easy to spread. Cover and set aside until the pie is ready to put together.
In a large skillet, cook the following over medium heat until the vegetables are tender: 4 tablespoons of butter, 1 diced medium organic onion and 10 shredded baby carrots. Add 2 pounds of thawed ground Harrison Valley Farms lamb to the skillet. Cook until the pink has just disappeared. Spoon off the excess fat (should hardly been any if you use our lamb). Add 2 tablespoons of flour and mix in. Add 1 1/2 cups of beef broth–I like Rachel Rays, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary and 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 15 minutes on stove top.
Remove skillet from the tove top. Spoon the meat mixture into a buttered 9″ X 13″ glass cooking pan and spread evenly. Spoon and spread the mashed potatoes evenly on top. Cut 1/3 stick of butter into thin slices and place on top of the mashed potatoes.
Cook uncovered in an oven pre-heated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are slightly browned. Remove from the oven and let the casserole cool slightly for 5 – 10 minutes. Cut, serve and enjoy. I also recommend Westphalia Vineyards’ dry red wine, “The Prodigal Son” with this dinner. It is a Missouri dry red made with no sulphates. Smooth and full of flavor. Happy cooking!