Chunky Shepherd's Pie

A crowd pleasing family favourite for colder days, Candice Brown's Shepherd's Pie recipe features chunks of succulent lamb and a cheesy topping.

Comfort
From the book Comfort
Candice Brown

Introduction

I came up with this because a certain Scottish boy of mine decided that he didn’t like regular shepherd’s pie. He likes mince and he likes potatoes – just not cooked together in the same pot! So I tried it with lamb stewing steak and voilà! The chunky shepherd’s pie is now a permanent menu option at home! This is a really rich and decadent dinner, smoky, a little pokey and full of lovely ingredients. The topping is almost a meal in itself but we always have seconds!

Serves 4 hungry people

Ingredients

olive oil
1 heaped tbsp plain flour
800g lamb stewing steak (e.g. neck), cut into 50p-sized pieces
1 large red onion, diced
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
3 small carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery sticks, diced
150g chestnut mushrooms, diced
100g chorizo, skinned and sliced
leaves from 1 small bunch fresh rosemary, thyme and sage, finely chopped
1 dried bay leaf
2 tsp finely chopped garlic (jarred or fresh)
1 small fresh red chilli, finely chopped (remove the seeds if you don't like too much heat)
1 tsp hot smoked paprika
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp mushroom / porcini powder (or mushroom ketchup)
1 heaped tbsp tomato purée
200ml red wine
300ml beef stock (fresh or from stock cube)
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
For the topping:
4 sweet potatoes
4 large baking potatoes
milk
butter
3 leeks, trimmed and sliced
100g grated cheese (I like mature cheddar)
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 160°C fan (180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4).

Heat up a glug of olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium/high heat. Season the flour with salt and pepper, then toss the lamb in the flour to coat lightly all over. Fry – in batches – until browned on all sides. As each batch of lamb is browned, transfer to a large casserole using a slotted spoon.

Add another glug of olive oil to the frying pan followed by the diced vegetables and sliced chorizo, the fresh herbs, bay leaf, garlic and chilli. Fry for 4–5 minutes until the vegetables are softened, stirring frequently.

Stir in the paprika (both types), cayenne, dried thyme and mushroom powder. Turn the heat to medium. Add the tomato purée and stir in, then pour in the red wine. Allow this to bubble away for a couple of minutes before stirring in the beef stock and Worcestershire sauce. Make sure you get all of the lovely bits off the bottom of the pan.

Tip the whole lot over the meat in the casserole and give it a good mix round. The liquid should just be visible through the top layer of meat. Place the lid on the casserole and transfer to the oven to cook for 2–2½ hours until the meat is tender. Stir occasionally.

With about 1½ hours of cooking time to go, prick the sweet and baking potatoes with a knife, then set them on a baking tray and place in the oven with the casserole to bake for the remaining time.

Melt a knob of butter in a frying pan over a low/medium heat, add the leeks and cook for 5–6 minutes until soft. Set aside to cool.

When the meat filling is cooked, remove the casserole from the oven – the sauce should be rich and thick. Taste for seasoning, add more if needed and stir through. Cover the casserole and set aside. Increase the oven temperature to 180°C fan (200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6).

Using a sharp knife (holding the potato with a tea towel), cut each sweet and baking potato in half lengthways and scoop out the soft flesh into a large bowl. Mash all the flesh together with a splash of milk and knob of butter. Stir through the leeks and half of the grated cheese. Season with black pepper.

Cover the meat mixture with the potato and cheese mix – I like to pile it on willy-nilly. Scatter the remaining grated cheese over the top. Put the casserole back into the oven (without the lid) and bake for about 25 minutes until the cheese has melted, the top is golden and the meat juices are bubbling up around the edges.

Serve hot, with a heap of broccoli and greens.

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