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Shepherd's Pie (Pióg an Aoire)

Savoury lamb topped with a crispy baked layer of mashed potatoes for a delicious shepherd's pie, or pióg an aoire.


The delicious shepherd's pie is commonly identified as an Irish dish when it is actually an English meat pie. But today it is enjoyed all over the UK (with its own regional differences) for good reason, it's so yummy. With a thick layer of saucy minced meat topped with a crust of mashed potatoes cooked until the peaks and edges are crispy, what is not to love!


Shepherd's pie is one of those terms most people use synonymously to describe any baked dish with a meat layer covered with mashed potatoes, when in reality, a shepherd's pie is only a shepherd's pie when containing lamb (hence the "shepherd"). If another meat is used, it is called a cottage pie.


Many countries have some version of a similar meat-layered pie. In France you will find hachis parmentier, which is commonly leftover roast, chopped fine, with gravy and baked with a covering of mashed potatoes. Here in Canada you'll find pâté chinois, which uses a layer of corn kernels between the meat and mashed potatoes. The Dutch have filosoof, which includes sweeter elements like apples and prunes. There are so many versions I'll no doubt add each of them to this blog in due time (ha!). Enjoy!

 

TIP: To give a shepherd's pie or cottage pie more height, add a few more potatoes to increase the amount mashed then spread a layer of mashed potatoes on the bottom of the casserole pan before adding the meat.

 

Ingredients

(Makes 12 servings)


meat filling:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 large sweet onion. finely diced

  • 1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground back pepper

  • 2 pounds ground lamb

  • 1 can (5.5oz) tomato paste

  • 1/2 cup red wine (optional)

  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce

  • 1, 1/2 cups chicken stock

mashed potatoes:

  • 3 pounds white or yellow potatoes, peeled and cubed

  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt

  • 2 tablespoons plant-based butter

  • 2/3 cup 2% milk (lactose-free if needed)

  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

 

Directions

In a pot over medium-high heat, add the cubed potatoes, salt, and enough water to completely cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are fork tender.


While the potatoes boil, prepare the meat. In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, add the extra-virgin olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and carrot. Sauté, stirring regularly until the onion softens and starts to become translucent (about 7 or 8 minutes). Add the garlic, mix and sauté for an additional minute. Add the salt, thyme, rosemary, and ground black pepper then mix well.


Add the ground lamb to the pan and mix to thoroughly combine with the onion mixture. Keep sautéing, mixing regularly, until the lamb has browned. Add the tomato paste and combine well with the meat mixture. If using red wine, add it now with the Worcestershire sauce and continue sautéing the meat until the wine has almost completely evaporated. Add the chicken stock and continue sautéing, bringing the liquid to a boil and reducing until the meat is saucy and thick.


When the potatoes are tender and the meat is almost ready, preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C and have a casserole dish ready, set aside.