It was a great surprise to receive an email from a German student who had stayed with us over six years ago. Viola is now a highly qualified engineer on a global scale. We hope to see her in Bath if she has any free time on a visit to England.
She remembered my Shepherd’s Pie and so here is the recipe. Perfect comfort food!
Jocasta Innes has a touching tribute to Shepherd’s Pie in the revised edition of The Pauper’s Cookbook (the best student cookbook ever and a classic from the 1960s). She had been amazed to realise that no recipe for Shepherd’s Pie had been included in the first edition. She writes, ‘Perhaps I thought it too familiar to be worth including’. Never!
Shepherd’s Pie can be made with freshly minced lamb or minced lamb left over from Sunday lunch. .
600g lean lamb, minced
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and grated
100ml lamb stock (or red wine)
Generous shakes of Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp tomato purée
1 bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
600g floury potatoes
Pour the oil into a large casserole dish and, when hot, fry the chopped onion until soft. Add the minced lamb and cook until it is browned. With a wooden spatula, move it around the pot to prevent big lumps forming. Add the stock (or red wine), grated carrot, bay leaf, tomato purée and some good shakes of Worcestershire sauce. Season. When bubbling, put the lid on the casserole and let it simmer gently for at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and cook them in salted water .Drain thoroughly and return them to the pot. Add most of the butter and enough milk to mash them into soft, but not soggy, mashed potato.
Remove the bay leaf before putting the lamb mixture into a baking dish. Cover it with the mashed potato and, using a fork, fluff it up a little and mark it with fork tracks. Finally, dot over the remaining bits of butter.
Cook in a medium hot oven for about 30 minutes or until the top is browned and bubbling.
Guten Appetit Viola!