Last weekend my second cousins from England came for a visit, which has completely reignited my Anglophile tendencies. I love everything about the UK. I love the accents, the history, the phrases. I love Peppa Pig. I love the Union Jack. I love the royal family. I love Marks and Spencer and Top Shop (not that I’ve ever been to one, but I love the idea of them). I love that whenever we had something to eat, my cousins would say, “Oh, this is nice”, instead of “this is good”, as we Texans would say. It’s much more, shall I say, posh?
I also love the food. My grandmother is from Northampton, England, so British cooking has always been a bit of an influence growing up. Whenever my mom would make a big roast, she’d turn the leftovers into meat pies (or pasties, as the Brits call them). My cousins, knowing how much I love to cook, brought me a wonderful cookbook called “The British Pub Cookbook”. My girls and I spent an afternoon looking through it and marking out which recipes we should make, all the while speaking in our best English accents (which, my little cousin Abbie assured me, sounds quite ridiculous). It’s got recipes for the aforementioned pasties, but what really drew my attention was the Shepherd’s Pie. I’ve made several attempts at it over the years, but have never gotten it quite right.
This recipes is pretty freaking fantastic, so I thought I’d share it with all of you:
1 tsp olive oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/2 lb ground beef (the book calls for minced lamb, but beef is more my style)
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 tbsp flour
1 cup beef stock
1/2 cup red wine
Salt and Pepper
1 lb potatoes for mashing, such as Russet, peeled and cut into chunks
Cream or Milk
1. Preheat the oven to 350.
2. Heat the oil in an oven-safe Dutch oven. Add the onions and saute until soft. Add the garlic and stir well.
3. Increase the heat and add the meat. Cook quickly to brown the meat all over, stirring constantly. Add the carrots and season well with salt, pepper, and a few dashes of Worcestershire.
4. Stir in the flour, then add the stock and wine. Stir well and heat until simmering and thickened.
5. Cover the Dutch oven and cook in the oven for about one hour. Check the consistency periodically and add a little more stock or wine if needed. The meat mixture should be thick, but not dry.
6. While the meat is cooking, make the mashed potato topping. Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil, then add the potatoes and cook for 15-20 minutes. Drain well and mash until smooth. Add the butter and milk/cream and season well with salt and pepper.
7. Spoon the meat mixture into an oven proof serving dish and spread or pipe the potatoes on top.
8. Increase the oven temperature to 400 and cook the dish for 15-20 minutes at the top of the oven until golden brown. You could also stick it under the broiler for a really crisp brown topping to the potatoes.