I am SO behind in posting recipes I’ve been photographing that I’m bound to forget any substitutions (or actual recipes that I made up myself) if I don’t post them soon. So I’m devoting this entire month (with an occasional random post here and there) to catching up on my recipes of late – healthy desserts, snacks, sweet snacks (who am I kidding – these are really just more desserts!), breads (pretzels!), and a few main dishes that we’ve really enjoyed recently. A few will be from hidden cookbooks, but many are things I found online.
Because yesterday was Easter, I had an excuse to make Shepherd’s Pie using lamb (For you readers in other countries, one of the times Americans traditionally eat lamb is on Easter Day. Also, I need an excuse to make this because it takes much longer than an average meal.) The recipe I’ve used has proven itself repeatedly, and if I’d had room in my tummy for the whole casserole, I would have eaten the entire thing by myself. And then today I would have eaten the second whole dish for lunch (I did score one portion for an early dinner – good thing because that whole 11X14 casserole of leftovers was eaten by the family for dinner tonight without anything left to even scrape up on a crust of bread!) First, a few pictures our Easter guests took for us by a tree across the street — they had wanted to snap a few photos of their boys in Sunday best, so we exchanged photographer services for a few minutes. 🙂
Trying to get a good shot can result in some of the best moments captured:
I got the red flower in hopes that it will work for an upcoming event – bought a few more for good measure, though, so I’m not sure which one I’ll use…
On to the Pie now – the finished product first to tempt you…
Hahaha I guess that picture doesn’t really show it too well. Here it is all put together before I popped it into the oven:
I refrigerated it like this Saturday and then left it in a 200 (F) degree oven covered in foil while we were at church so it could warm up slowly. Once we were home, I melted some butter to top it and then broiled it for about ten minutes.
I will describe a few of the steps and then will include the actual recipe at the end.
On Wednesday or Thursday (it’s all rather foggy right now…) I roasted the 5 lb leg of lamb. It was supposed to be 4 lbs, which includes the bone, but since I had a 5 lb leg that had already been deboned, I counted this as about one and a half times the recipe. The next evening I spent about an hour cutting the whole thing up into tiny chunks. These need to be small enough pieces so that 2-3 meat bites would fit onto a spoon. When eating shepherd’s pie, you shouldn’t need a knife, except perhaps if you’re British and using it to load each bite onto your spoon or fork.
First, dice up the celery, onion, garlic, and mushrooms, and cook in butter with the spices until softened – about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, slice the other mushrooms up for the second part of the recipe. (Here, I have cut them smaller for personal reasons, but normally they would be lovely sliced mushrooms.)
Also, boil your potatoes for the mashed potato topping. I didn’t do this part til Saturday night. I added some Thyme and Rosemary to my mashed potatoes, as well as half-and-half and butter for the mashing part.
Add some boiling water to the roasting pan which held the lamb, and use it to loosen up any bits stuck to the bottom. Then pour all this (which includes any drippings) into a saucepan. You are supposed to add bouillon cubes, but every brand I found contained MSG, so I just used less boiling water and substituted beef stock without MSG. Also add the sherry, then cook your sliced mushrooms for a while, but do not allow the mixture to boil.
Finally, in a large mixing bowl you combine the contents of the saucepan with the stuff from the skillet and all that delicious lamb (whatever you can keep your kids from pillaging when you’re not looking – I promise mine would have eaten that whole bowl of lamb!!)
It was too late for me at this point on Friday evening for me, and I didn’t have much room in the fridge for two large casseroles, so I just popped the bowl into the fridge overnight. Saturday evening after I mashed the potatoes, I split this bowl between two dishes – one 9X13 and one 11X14. Then I topped them with the mashed potatoes, covered them with foil, and left them til the morning.
In the dish you can see some of the solidified “fats” from the recipe because everything was cold from the fridge, but of course once it was cooked, this was all a delicious gravy. I would recommend serving it in bowls.
As you can see, I took 2-3 days to put this together, but it could all be done in one. It’s a great “make-ahead” meal because it’s much tastier than most other casseroles and can therefore impress your palate and your guests without all the effort being required right beforehand. Here’s the recipe – let me know if you try it!! I would love to know if others like it as much as we do. 🙂
SHEPHERD’S PIE taken from the cookbook Of Tide and Thyme
Original recipe serves 8-10
1 (4 pound) leg of lamb
extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground pepper
(Preheat oven to 450 F, then wash lamb and pat it dry. Rub it all over with the olive oil, then the soy sauce before placing it in your roasting pan – without a rack. Cover both sides with the salt, garlic powder, and pepper. Sear lamb (uncovered) for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and cook for about an hour – juices should still run pink and the lamb should only be medium rare at most.)
3/4 cup diced celery
1/4 cup diced onion
2 large cloves minced garlic (I used, um, a few extra even for doubling – maybe 6)
3/4 pound diced fresh mushrooms
1/2 tsp thyme
1 tsp basil
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter
(Saute onions, celery, garlic, and mushrooms until they are soft in the butter, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and spices. Set aside, saving all juices.)
(Allow lamb to cool before carving it. Dice lamb into bite-sized cubes; reserve all juices.)
4 large baking potatoes (I don’t peel mine because I like lumps and peels in my mashed potatoes)
half-and-half or milk
(boil your potatoes and mash them using salt, butter, and milk. Set aside.)
1 1/2 cups boiling water (or 1/2 cup if you’re going to use stock in the next step)
1 cube beef bouillon (or use 1 cup of stock – chicken or beef)
1 cub chicken bouillon (omit if using stock)
1/4 pound sliced fresh mushrooms
1/4 cup dry sherry
(Boil the water and pour over roasting pan, using a spatula to free up pieces of meat and all juices. Pour contents of pan into a medium saucepan (and any extra juices from the carving) and bring to a slow simmer adding either the broth or the chicken and beef bouillon. Turn heat to low and add sherry and sliced mushrooms. Cook thoroughly over low heat, not allowing mixture to boil.)
FINALLY – put sauteed celery and onion mixture into a large bowl and combine it with the contents of the saucepan as well as the cubed lamb. Carefully spoon this mixture into a 9X13 shallow glass pan (be careful to leave enough room on top for the potatoes – seriously, just use another pan rather than stuffing one if need be.) Make sure you only add enough juices that they just come to the top of the meat mixture. (I had to use all my juices to get them to fill up the meat mixture.) Smooth the mashed potatoes over the entire surface of the meat and bake uncovered at 325 F for 20 minutes. Melt some butter to brush on top before broiling a final 5-10 minutes til nicely browned.