Having survived several weeks of madness in school – be it running Evening@SMU, my academic work, and just squeezing in as much time as possible to spend time with all of my lovely friends – I decided that this weekend would be a good opportunity to spend time to reconnect with my parents. Having ended up spending much time in school, lately my parents have started making really wonderful dishes for me for meals I have at home. So other than spending time with my parents out shopping today, I decided to finally get down to making the Shepherd’s Pie I’ve been thinking of making since forever :)
I really really love Shepherd’s Pie ever since I first tried it, and I always found the top layer of mash really tasty – the whole creaminess of it balanced with the slightly prickly and crispy feel of burnt mash at the top! I modified the recipe from Jamie Oliver for several reasons – I don’t really eat lamb and there wasn’t any celery in the supermarket today for ready money.
SHEPHERD’S PIE, WITHOUT THE LAMB – SERVES 4
- Olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 red onion / half of a white onion
- 2 sprigs of rosemary
- 400g of minced pork (I estimated 100g per person)
- 400g of diced tomatoes (if canned, use 1 can)
- 400g of mixed snap-frozen peas, corns, carrots and french beans
(Alternatively, you can use a fresh vegetables mix! I used this because there wasn’t any celery in the supermarket and I thought this was the best alternative then.)
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black, red and white pepper
- Worchestershire sauce (optional)
*Those familiar with Jamie’s recipe will notice that I left out the vegetable stock. I left it out because the vegetables and canned tomatoes actually produced more than enough moisture and I had to boil off the excess stock. On the other hand this was actually great because I had greater control over the moisture of the pie filling :)
- 6 potatoes
- 100g of butter (adjust accordingly to moistness of potato mash)
- 100ml of milk (optional – I didn’t use it because my mash was already quite moist!)
- Parmesan cheese
Preparation – pie filling
- Season the minced pork with some sea salt and pepper.
- Lug some generous quantities of olive oil in the pot.
- Start by stir-frying the chopped onion, garlic and about 80% of the rosemary leaves.
- Continue until the garlic has begun to brown slightly. Usually the garlic will get pretty fragrant at this point!
- Add in all of the minced pork and keep stirring the meat around to prevent the minced meat from cooking in meatballs. Alternatively, if you prefer a more chunky shepherd’s pie, you can stir around less.
- Keep stirring the meat around until the meat is fully cooked.
- Add in the vegetables mix and mix the contents of the pot well. Mixing is essential throughout the cooking so that the flavours will be evenly distributed.
- Add in the tomatoes and remaining rosemary leaves. If you’re using canned tomatoes, add in the tomato juice in the can as well as it will provide more flavour for the stock in the pot.
- At this point, taste and season with sea salt, pepper and worchestershire sauce accordingly. My family doesn’t usually have very strongly seasoned food (we’re Teochews!) so I didn’t actually add much.
- Allow the mixture to continue simmering to evapourate the excess stock. The ideal level would be when the the stock is slightly below the level of the vegetables and meat mix.
Preparation – mash
- Peel the potatoes and boil them till fully cooked.
- When fully cooked, mash the potatoes to the preferred smoothness level. I like mine slightly chunky, so I don’t mash the potatoes thoroughly.
- While mashing the potatoes, add in chunks of butter and mix evenly. Add the butter in progressively so that you will have greater control over the moistness of the mash.
- Optional step: add in milk to the potato mash mixture – personally I didn’t see the need for this, but I think adding this may make it more fragrant.
- Season with sea salt and pepper, and parmesan cheese as desired as well.
Putting it all together now
- Put all of the pie filling into the baking tray.
- Scoop the mash over the pie filling, and smoothen out using a fork so that the mash layer is as even as possible. This is actually pretty tricky as smoothening out the mash may result in bringing the pie filling up to the top (like what I did) so be patient :)
- Upon completion, sprinkle parmesan cheese over the entire pie.
- Bake in the oven at 220degreesC for around 30 mins, +/- 5 mins. If you prefer not to have the mash browned too much, you can bake it for a shorter time.
And it’s done :) You may serve it with even more vegetables, or have it with some light soup like my family did tonight. We had really great corn soup with pork ribs.