My husband isn’t a huge fan of red meat. So we often rely on chicken as our protein source. I try to mix it up occasionally, but the man is super picky. However, I have found that there is one type of red meat he will eat: lamb.
We were living in Japan the first time we had shabu-shabu or Japanese hot pot. Our companions encouraged us to order the ‘Genghis Khan’ special. It was lamb meat in a super spicy stewing liquid. My husband loved it and since then, it’s one of the only types of red meat he will eat. He just hates the taste of hamburger but will occasionally eat a steak.
I’ve tried lamb kabobs before, but when you want something hardy for a cold winter’s day, you can’t go wrong with Shepherd’s Pie. I worked from Alton Brown’s recipe (of course!) but made my own changes according to what I had on hand and how lazy I was that day.
HFM’s Version of Alton Brown’s Shepherd’s Pie
For Potato Topping Layer
1 1/2 lbs of potatoes (peeled and diced)
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
salt and pepper to taste
For Meat and Vegetable Filling
1 1/2 lbs ground lamb
2 Tb olive oil
1/2 of an onion (diced)
1 1/4 cup of mixed frozen vegetables (make sure your mixed veggies include carrots, peas and corn)
2 cloves of garlic (minced)
2 Tb all purpose flour
2t tomato paste
1 cup chicken broth (I find these Flavor Booster packets mixed with water do the trick)
1t Worcestershire sauce
Dried rosemary and thyme to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot, deposit your peeled and diced potatoes. Cover with cold water. Set your burner on high and bring the potatoes to a boil. Once at a rolling boil, add a pinch of salt to the water. After 10 minutes, check for doneness by using a fork inserted into a larger potato piece. The potatoes are done boiling when they are soft and easy to break. Drain off the water and return potatoes to the same pot. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher or the back of a fork. Once the potatoes are broken down to crumbles, add in milk and butter. Mix until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Turn your stove burner up to medium heat under a large, heavy skillet. Add your olive oil and onions. Sweat onions until they are almost translucent. Add in the ground lamb and minced garlic along with salt and pepper to taste. Allow the meat to brown, stirring occasionally to avoid burning.
At this point, you can consider draining your meat of any excess oil. I found the lamb I bought to have been fairly lean so I didn’t bother to drain. But please do it if you wish.
Next sprinkle flour over the lamb meat and onion mixture. Toss to coat evenly and cook for a minute or so just to get the flour to absorb a bit. Next add in the chicken broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary and thyme. Stir to combine, then cover and let the mixture simmer over medium low heat for about 10 minutes until the sauce thickens.
Once the mixture has thickened, add in your frozen vegetables. Stir well and transfer to a glass baking dish. I used a 9×9 inch but Alton calls for an 11×17 inch casserole dish. I found no difference in my experiments. The 9×9 makes for a slightly longer baking time, but no difference in flavor.
With the filling in the baking dish, place your mashed potatoes to top. Start at the sides to really seal in the filling. Then fill in the middle with the rest of your potatoes. Put in your pre-heated oven on a sheet pan in case of filling blow out. Place on the middle rack of your oven for about 25 minutes or until the potatoes just start to brown.
Once you pull the pie from the oven, allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving. The filling will be blazing hot, I promise you.
If you use this recipe, let me know how it went. Did you like it? What would you change?