A true shepherd’s pie is always made with lamb (the similar dish made with beef is properly called a cottage pie). It’s one of the most comforting and homey dishes around. Traditionally, it was made with odds and ends from the Sunday roast, finely chopped. Grated cheddar melted on top is not traditional, of course, but with all that great Shelburne Farms cheddar around, it was a natural and delicious addition.–Melissa Pasanen
Shepherd's Pie with Caramelized Onions and Cheddar Smash Recipe
Hands-On Time: | Total Time: | Serves 6 to 8
- For the caramelized onions
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 pounds (about 6 medium) onions, thinly sliced crosswise into rounds
- 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- For the potato smash
- 3 pounds all-purpose potatoes, such as Yukon gold, scrubbed, but not peeled, and cut into 2-inch chunks
- 4 garlic cloves, smashed with the flat side of a knife
- 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
- For the filling and to finish the pie
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 medium (about 1 1/2 cups) carrots, scrubbed, trimmed, and finely diced
- 2 pounds ground lamb
- 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste (ketchup will do in a pinch)
- 2 cups chicken stock, preferably low sodium
- 1 cup (about 3 1/2 ounces) grated cheddar
- Make the caramelized onions
- 1. These can be made up to a week ahead. In a large, heavy- bottomed saute pan or skillet set over medium heat, heat the olive oil until hot. Add the onions to the pan and turn the heat down to medium-low.
- 2. Sprinkle the onions with the salt and cook, stirring frequently to make sure they brown evenly, for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until they are completely golden brown and soft. You should have about 1 1/2 to 2 cups of onions. Set aside.
- Make the smashed potatoes
- 3. These can be made up to 24 hours ahead. Select a large pot that can accommodate a steamer insert or heatproof colander large enough to hold your potatoes. Fill it with water up to the bottom of the steamer insert, add the potatoes and garlic cloves, and sprinkle them with the salt. Cover the pot, set it over high heat, and bring the water to a boil.
- 4. Reduce the heat to maintain an active simmer and steam the potatoes for 25 to 30 minutes, until they break apart easily when poked with a fork.
- 5. Remove the potatoes and garlic from the steamer, pour off the hot water, and return the potatoes and garlic to the pot. Cover the potatoes with a clean dish towel and let them dry out for about 5 minutes. (Do not allow the potatoes to cool before mashing or they will get disastrously gummy.) Add the butter to the pot and use a potato masher to smash the potatoes and garlic until blended but not completely smooth. Adjust seasoning to taste. Set aside.
- Make the filling and assemble the pie
- 6. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). In a large saute pan or skillet set over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil until hot. Add the diced carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes, until softened.
- 7. Add the lamb, thyme, and salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes until the meat is no longer pink. Carefully pour off all the fat and discard.
- 8. Sprinkle the flour over the lamb and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Then stir in the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes longer. Pour in the stock, along with 1 cup of the caramelized onions. Increase the heat slightly and simmer, 2 to 3 minutes, until the gravy thickens slightly.
- 9. Spread the lamb into a shallow round or oval 3-quart casserole or a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Spread the potatoes on top. Distribute the remaining caramelized onions over the mashed potatoes, and then sprinkle the cheddar evenly on top. Bake until the top is golden and crusty, about 20 minutes.
Shepherd's Pie with Caramelized Onions and Cheddar Smash Recipe © 2007 Melissa Pasanen and Shelburne Farms. Photo © 2007 Susie Cushner. All rights reserved.