Mary’s Classic Shepherd’s Pie with Ground Lamb
My recipe features a nice rich mix of traditional root vegetables—turnips, parsnips and carrots—as well as a wonderful pop of taste from sweet potatoes and a little bit of sherry, vermouth, or white wine. This dish also serves as an excellent alternative to corn beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day!
Mary’s Shepherd’s Pie
Makes 8 servings
Mashed Potato Topping
6 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large pieces (about 2 to 2½ pounds)
2 ounces (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
¾ cup to 1 cup milk or buttermilk, as needed
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 large egg yolk
Salt and white pepper to taste
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into a medium dice (about 2 cups)
2 large parsnips, peeled and cut into a medium dice (about 2 cups)
2 medium turnips, peeled and cut into a medium dice (about 1 ½ cups)
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into a medium dice (about 1 ½ cups)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped celery
2 garlic cloves, minced
1½ pounds ground lamb
3 tablespoons flour
½ cup sherry, vermouth or white wine
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1½ cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Prepare the potato topping: Place the potatoes in a large saucepot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cook until potatoes are fully tender. Drain well and return to pot. Add butter and milk or buttermilk as needed. Add the egg yolk then use a potato masher to process until smooth. Season with the nutmeg and salt and white pepper to taste. For a smoother potato, use an electric mixer to prepare the potatoes.
While potatoes are cooking, prepare the filling. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet pan with foil. Spray foil with nonstick cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl, combine carrots, parsnips, turnips and sweet potatoes. Toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil along with dried thyme and salt and pepper to taste. Turn onto the prepared pan and roast until vegetables are just tender, about 25 to 30 minutes. After the vegetables are roasted, reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees.
While vegetables are roasting, prepare the meat. Heat remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan or Dutch oven set over medium heat. When hot, add onion and celery and sauté, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened but not browned. Add the garlic and saute for one minute. Add the lamb. Cook until lamb is cooked through, stirring often to evenly cook. Stir in the flour and cook on medium-low for 2 minutes.
Deglaze pan with sherry, vermouth, or wine and cook, stirring and scraping bottom of pot. Add the tomato paste, stock and Worcestershire sauce. Simmer for several minutes to thicken the sauce.
Add the roasted vegetables, rosemary and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread mixture evenly in an 11-by 7-inch glass baking dish. Top with the mashed potatoes, starting around the edges so the mixture doesn’t bubble over during the cooking process. Smooth out the potatoes using a rubber spatula. Place on a baking sheet pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the potatoes begin to brown. The baking sheet pan will catch any of the mixture that may bubble over during the cooking process. Remove to a cooling rack and let cool for 15 minutes before serving.