So I hate mince. Well, I will eat it but I wouldn't cook with it myself and can only eat small amounts in one sitting. This I suspect all harks back to my grandmother and her boiled mince and veg, yuck. So I am always looking for ways to make traditional meals, such as chilli, shepherds pie, bolognaise or moussaka using whole chunks of meat instead. One of the variation recipes that Andy showed us was a slow cooker Irish Shepherds Pie, which used chunks of meat, so I ran with that, but I didn't use a slow cooker and I changed the ingredients slightly too. I did have to ring my Mum a couple of times to see if she agreed with what I was doing and generally she did! It was really good, I've tried vegetarian Shepherds Pie before but not a meat version and this one was a winner. I served it with steamed kale and honey roast beetroot.
Irish Shepherds Pie
1 ¼ kg boneless lamb shoulder or leg, cut in 1 ½ inch cubes
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 parsnip, chopped
1/2 swede, chopped
2-3 tbsp plain flour
30g chopped parsley
1 bay leaf
1½ tsp salt
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ tsp ground pepper
1l stout or dark ale
100g frozen peas, thawed
1kg russet baking potatoes
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 150C.
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a casserole dish and brown the lamb. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Put a little more oil in the pan and sweat the onion for a few minutes until translucent. Then add the parsnip, carrots and swede and fry for about 5 mins until softened.
Add the meat back to the pan and sprinkle over the flour. Stir the flour in well. Add the parsley, bay leaf, thyme and enough stout to cover the meat and veg to the pan and bring to the boil. Boil for about 5 mins.
Transfer to the oven and cook for 2 hours. Check after 1 hour to see that it hasn't dried out. If it looks a bit dry add more liquid, either more stout or some beef stock.
Meanwhile, make the mash potato. Boil the potatoes for 15-20 mins until soft and then drain and mash with the butter, milk and nutmeg.
Take the stew out of the oven and add the peas. Change the oven temperature to 200C . Then transfer the stew to an oven proof dish and spread the mash on top.
Bake in oven for about 15 mins, until potatoes are browned and stew is bubbling.