Shepherd’s pie is an age old recipe that has been around for hundreds of years. The term Shepherd’s pie did not actually arise until the 1870s, and before that this dish was known as Cottage Pie. The dish was popular among those who struggled with the economy and could not always afford a lot of meat. The little meat that could be afforded would be lined and covered with potatoes (a much cheaper ingredient) then roasted. Various different recipes and styles emerged around Shepherd’s pie, and through the ages it became more than just a staple dish.
A traditional Shepherd’s pie would feature Beef or Lamb traditionally, but four other key variations of the pie have come into existence through the years.
1) A St. Stephen’s Day pie contains turkey and ham instead of red meat.
2) The Cumberland Pie is distinctive for having layers of bread crumbs atop.
3) Fish pie features cod or haddock instead of red meat.
4) A vegetarian version often known as Shepherdless Pie filled the market for the non meat eaters.
In this article I am going to describe my favorite Shepherdless Pie Recipe, the Golden Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie. This recipe will feed ten people and is a complete meal. For smaller batches reduce quantities accordingly.
Ingredients for the Vegetable Pie:
50 grams Butter 200 grams Chestnut Mushrooms finely sliced 500 grams dried green lentils 1.75 litres Vegetable Stock 2 onions finely chopped 4 carrots finely diced 1 head of celery finely chopped 4 garlic cloves finely chopped 2 Bay Leaves 2 Teaspoons dried thyme 3 Tablespoons Tomato Puree 150 ml Red Wine (if desired)
Ingredients for the Potato Topping:
2 kg floury potatoes 90 grams Butter 90 ml Milk 75 grams Cheddar Cheese, finely grated
Cooking Instructions: The Vegetables
1) Start by heating a large pan on a low heat. When you feel the pan has warmed up add the butter and allow it melt into a golden brown. Add a few drops of oil if you like.
2) Add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic and let them fry for ten to fifteen minutes until they look caramelized.
3) Add the mushrooms and turn up the heat to a medium-high heat. Allow to cook for five minutes.
4) Add the herbs then stir in for a minute.
5) Add the lentils and mix in slowly.
6) Add the stock, and wine if you are using. Stir in slowly and thoroughly.
7) Allow the vegetables to simmer for around 45 minutes until the lentils are soft.
8) Season the vegetables to taste with salt, pepper and other preferred spices.
9) Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to settle for about a minute.
10) Add the tomato puree and stir in.
Cooking Instructions: The potatoes
1) Whilst you let the vegetables simmer tackle the potatoes. Into a pan of boiling water add the potatoes and allow to cook for around sixteen minutes.
2) Drain the potatoes and let them stand for around two minutes.
3) Begin to mash the potatoes whilst adding butter and milk until you get your desired consistency. You want the potatoes to be soft and creamy but to remain semi-solid.
4) Add salt and pepper and other preferred spices.
Assembly and Cooking
1) If you have followed this recipe it is unlikely you will have one dish big enough for everything you have prepared. Take as many dishes as you need and fill the bottom of the dish with the vegetable mix. Atop place some of the mash potatoes. The recipe gives the correct quantity of mash to vegetable, so if you put a quarter of the vegetables into a dish try and cover with a quarter of the mash. You can put a portion of the semi cooked Shepherd’s pie into a freezer container and freeze for a few weeks. Don’t leave in the freezer for too long though! I wouldn’t recommend over two to three months.
2) Before cooking add grated cheese atop the potatoes and once again season to taste with salt, pepper and other preferred spices. Be warned that you have already seasoned the vegetables and the potatoes, so don’t over season.
3) If you have a fan oven heat to 190°, of a regular oven to 170° / Gas Mark 5.
4) Once hot, add the shepherd’s pie and cook for thirty minutes.
5) After thirty minutes check the pie, and if needed cook further checking every two minutes. The dish is ready to eat when the potatoes are crispy golden brown at the top.