Don’t follow the herd; follow master chef RUDI LIEBENBERG’s simple steps to a robust country classic.
Photograph by JAN BOTHA
Shepherd’s pie is a traditional British meat pie with a crust made from mashed potato. Originally, meat left over from Sunday’s roast was turned into a pie on Monday. The difference between shepherd’s pie and cottage pie is that one uses lamb while the other uses beef – no prizes for guessing which is which. History indicates that the cottage pie appeared before the shepherd’s pie, probably because cattle farming preceded sheep farming in places where potatoes were also prevalent. Similar dishes are made in North America – one variant is known as cowboy pie and another, inexplicably, as Chinese pie. In France the dish was also invented to use leftover meat, butis given the fancy name of hachis parmentier. Variations can be found from the Middle East to Russia to Australia and New Zealand – where they call it potato pot pie.
- 140g onions, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 50g butter
- 30ml (2 tbsp) olive oil
- 2 medium sized carrots, chopped
- ½ sprig thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 500g minced lamb
- 15ml (1 tbsp) tomato purée
- 50ml Worcestershire sauce
- 500ml (2 cups) vegetable stock
- 240g peas
- 10ml (2 tsp) fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 500g potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 120ml milk
- 100g butter
- 2 large egg yolks
- salt, to taste
For the filling, sweat the onions and garlic in the butter and olive oil for about 2 minutes. Add the carrots and continue cooking for a further 2 minutes.
Add the thyme, bay leaf and mince, breaking the mince up as it browns.
Stir in the tomato purée, then the Worcestershire sauce and stock. Cook until the sauce has a nice thick consistency, about 30 minutes. Make sure the stock doesn’t all cook away. Add the peas and parsley and season. Discard the bay leaf.
For the mash, place the potatoes in cold water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are soft, about 30 minutes. Drain.
While the potatoes are still warm, mash them or push them through a potato ricer. Warm the milk and butter until the butter has melted. Add to the mashed potatoes and mix thoroughly to warm through.
Remove the potatoes from the heat, mix in the egg yolks and season. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Pour the meat mixture into an ovenproof dish.
Spoon the mash over the meat and smooth.
Use a fork to draw patterns on the surface.
Bake until a golden crust forms, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to stand for a few minutes before serving.