So you’ve made the Roast Lamb with beans and because there aren’t many of you there is a significant amount of lamb left over. So you make some lamb sandwiches for lunch the next day and possibly the day after that but then what? You’ve got this hulking piece of foiled lamb in the refrigerator and it looks at you in this way that makes you feel so guilty about waste and the poor lamb who gave up his life only to have his leg in your fridge getting old. Yup, that happens to me all the time. And realistically, there are only so many lamb sandwiches one can eat before moving on to other things.
But fear not! I have a recipe here for a lamb shepherd’s pie that will make the roast lamb so much more justifiable and therefore enjoyable. Now, because we’re talking about shepherd’s pie, we have to spare a moment and talk about MASH. Yes, that is it there in capitals. MASH. There it is again. It is one of my favourite foods, possibly should have its own food group and it just makes everything seem more wonderful. Having a bad day? Eat some mash. It is guaranteed to make you feel better. I suspect that this is because of its texture which is reminiscent of baby food and therefore takes you back to a time where life was simple and stuff. (Am I reading too much into the powers of MASH?) Well anyway. Making mash is easy. You peel and dice some potatoes, boil them until tender, plow them through a sieve, add in salt, butter or cream and that’s it.
Joel Robuchon, he of 12 restaurants and numerous Michelin stars, is said to add the same weight of butter to his mashed potatoes. (So, butter weight = potato weight.) People talk about this a lot. I for one look forward to the day when I can afford to sample these mashed potatoes. But personally, I do not feel the need to add in that much butter. A substantially sized knob of butter and if I have it in the fridge, a dollop of double cream, seems to do the trick. If I’m making dinner for other people or for special occasions I make them more decadent. If its just for me, on a weeknight, I use less butter and no cream. I think the best way to find out what you like is to experiment yourself. Obviously the more butter you add the more calorie laden it gets so bear this in mind (just a little) when making MASH. After all, it is an epic comfort food.
4 small onions or 1 large onion, red or white, sliced finely
500ml beef stock
400g roast lamb, shredded
1 tablespoon of tomato paste (one generous squeeze)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs fresh thyme
Sweat the onions in a knob of butter and a swig of olive oil. Add in the flour and cook for a minute then add in the lamb. Pour in the beef stock followed by the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaf and thyme. Bring the mixture to the boil then turn down and simmer for about an hour. The sauce will thicken and the lamb will become tender. Keep an eye on the pan and give it a stir on occasion to prevent sticking. You can either use a single dish or individual ones so divide the mixture as you choose. Extract the bay leaf and thyme at this point.
Whilst you are doing all that preheat the oven to 180C, then peel and dice about 6-10 potatoes. (Depending on how many you are trying to feed!) Place them in a pot and fill it with cold water so that the potatoes are covered. Boil until tender. Push these through a sieve* back into the pot and add in some butter and salt. Stir so that the potatoes come together and then place atop the lamb mixture. Bang this in the oven for about 25 minutes, until the mash has turned golden brown-y and the sauce is bubbling up at the sides.
*I have a confession about the mash I made for this pie. I started to push it through a sieve when the whole sieve collapsed and broke. So I threw the sieve away, after turning the pieces of potato back into the pot and made a chunky version of mash. This is a totally acceptable thing to do if you are lazy, tired or have just broken the sieve-like I did. (The fact that this is the third, yes third, sieve I have broken in the last month is a story for another time.)