Saturday, September 19, 2009

I ♥ Britain :: Minced Lamb Shepard's Pie

Summer is officially over and today was a sunny, and crisp autumn day here in NYC.  I woke up excited to wear my new schoolboy blazer (which has already become my fall uniform!), had breakfast coffee with A. , and we went on a quick trip to the farmer's market.  I then went to the West Village Library (how fitting with my new blazer!) and took a pile of books to a sunny table at Out of the Kitchen.  We drank cappuccinos as I skimmed through my new finds... a perfect afternoon!

Yes, I am now the proud owner of a New York Library card!  It's pretty amazing... I had forgotten about the wonders of a library.  I got my card and went straight to the "640 section - Cookbooks" and started choosing.  I got three books and went to checkout... it's been such a long time since I've been in a library that I took out my wallet as the librarian scanned my books... then I remembered: it's free!  I'll be coming back very often.  :-)

My first choice was "Tea & Sympathy", the story and cookbook behind the famous West Village tea shop.  I so enjoyed the book, that I finished it today.  

Well, inspired and craving British grub... we cooked Minced Lamb Shepard's Pie based on the Tea & Sympathy recipe of this British favorite.  We replaced the ground beef with minced lamb, and I seasoned the lamb with my usual lamb seasoning mix (I think lamb always needs to be seasoned before cooking).  A. also had the idea to leave the skin on the potatoes for the mash... and it was a great addition.  

Who ever said British food was boring and bland was obviously trying to keep all the Shepard's pie to himself!  My next British endeavor: scones!


MINCED LAMB SHEPARD'S PIE (adapted from Tea & Sympathy)
1 lb lamb meat, minced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
Juice of 1/2 a lime
Dash of cumin
1 tsp white vinegar
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 tbsp Worcester Sauce
1 large tomato (or 2 medium tomatoes)
1 cup beef stock (if you are not making your own, I prefer an organic version like Pacific brand)
3 bay leaves 
3 carrots, cooked and chopped
1 1/2 cups of cooked green peas
Extra-sharp Vermont cheddar, shredded

For the mashed potatoes:
3 lbs Idaho potatoes
1/2 stick of butter
3/4 cups of milk
salt and pepper to taste

Season the minced lamb meat (or ground meat) with the garlic, vinegar, lime juice, and a dash of salt, pepper, and cumin.  In a large saute pan over high heat, cook the chopped onion until they become clear.  Add the seasoned lamb meat to the pan and brown.  Add the tomato juice, beef stock, Worcester sauce, and bay leaves.  Continue to cook over medium heat for 30 minutes.  The liquids should reduce to 1/3 of their original state.

Prepare the mashed potatoes by boiling the potatoes in large wedges until soft.  When cooked, strain the potatoes (you can leave the skins on, or at this point you can easily remove... we left the skins on and it resulted in great texture!)and in a large bowl combine them with the butter, milk, salt and pepper.  By hand or with a hand mixer, bring the potatoes to a smooth consistency.  Taste for salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Quickly cook the peas and carrots in boiling water or a steamer.  Do not overcook.  You want them al-dente.  Remove from the water and place in a bowl of ice water to prevent them from losing their color.

Preheat the oven to 350F.  When you are ready to assemble your pie, combine the peas and carrots with the lamb. In ramekins, or a large oven dish layer the lamb and vegetables first to about half way of your container, then layer an equally thick serving of the mashed potatoes.  Top with the shredded cheese.

Cook for 25 minutes.  Afterwards, place the oven on broil in order for the cheese to brown for a couple of minutes.

Allow it to cool for at least 10 minutes.  You can serve with a side salad and simple vinaigrette.

PS: Since it was just the 2 of us for dinner tonight I made small loaf pans of the Shepard's pies to freeze.  Cover with wax paper and a rubber band, and place in a Ziploc freezer bag, and simply reheat in the oven when you are ready for seconds. :-)

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