Julius Robert's Ultimate Shepherd's Pie
Slowly braised lamb, packed with veg and spiked with bay leaves and Worcestershire sauce, hidden under a bed of buttery mash that’s slowly baked until crisp and golden.
1 hour 20 minutes
- 1kg quality British lamb mince
- 3 brown onions, finely diced
- 3 large carrots (around 300g), peeled, quartered and finely diced
- 3 sticks of celery, finely sliced
- 5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or roughly grated
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 tbsp of tomato purée
- A generous slug of Worcestershire sauce
- Small glass red wine (optional)
- 700ml chicken stock
- 300g frozen peas
For the mash
- 1.2kg Maris piper potatoes, or similar
- 200g salted butter
- 350ml whole milk
- 1 tbsp of Dijon mustard
- ½ clove of grated nutmeg
1.Start by chopping the onions, carrot and celery. Add to a big heavy based pan and fry with a generous glug of olive oil and proper pinch of salt for 20 minutes until properly soft and tender. At this point add the garlic, bay leaves, thyme, tomato purée and Worcestershire sauce and on a gentle heat, being careful it doesn’t burn, cook slowly for another 15 minutes.
2.While the veg is cooking, season the lamb mince generously with salt and pepper, mix well and then roll into meat balls. These make it very easy to brown the lamb which adds great flavour, while also ensuring the meat stays very juicy. Get a non-stick pan hot and fry the lamb meatballs in batches getting them properly caramelised.
3.Now back to the veg pan, turn the heat up and pour in the glass of wine if using, scrape and release any caramelised bits on the bottom of the pan and cook off the wine before adding the lamb meatballs. Break them down with a wooden spoon, mix well and pour in the chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for an hour, stirring occasionally until the meat is tender and the sauce has reduced. I might add a small spoon of roux at this point to thicken the sauce, but this is optional. When ready, give the mince a taste and adjust the seasoning until you get the balance right.
4.While the mince is simmering, peel the potatoes and chop into equal size chunks. Place in a pan and cover with cold water, season well with salt and place on the hob. Bring up to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender when skewered with a knife, don’t cook them so far they begin to collapse.
5.Drain and leave to steam in a colander for a few minutes. Get the butter and milk into a small pan and warm up to melt the butter. Personally, I use a ricer for my potatoes, but a masher or passing them through a sieve works just as well. Whichever method you use get them fluffy add the mustard, grate in the nutmeg stir through the milky butter. Taste to check your seasoning and adjust as necessary.
6.Now mix your peas into the mince before pouring into a large ovenproof dish or baking tray. The peas will cook along with the pie while in the oven. Spread evenly, leaving enough space at the top to add about an inch of the mash. Without pressing down, using a spatula spread the mash around the sides of the dish first then fill in the middle.
7.Rough up the surface with a fork to help it crisp and place in a hot oven at 200°C fan grill until the top is gently brown, crisp and bubbling, be careful it doesn’t burn. Serve immediately with Worcestershire sauce at the table and find yourself needing ketchup somethings gone terribly wrong! I tend to eat shepherd's pie on its own! It’s got everything you need, this one is packed with veg. But a green salad on the side is no bad thing.