The meat mix for these pies is critical. I guess it’s just about acceptable to buy a packet of mince (lamb for shepherd’s pie, beef for cottage pie) and whack it in, but it’s not really in the spirit of the elevation of this dish to something more than you’d get in the school canteen.
If you have some leftover meat this is ideal to add to some mince as meaty chunks are essential. If not then dice a bit of braising steak/stewing lamb cut into small chunks and add that instead. And ou know what, you’ll be very happy with that – however, if you really want to up your game, you should slow roast a shoulder of lamb, or a brisket/blade/chuck of beef in advance and do away with mince altogether!
Preheat the oven to 150ºC. In a snug-fitting high-sided roasting tray, rub the joint all over with a little oil and a good pinch of sea salt and pepper. Add a splash of water to the tray, then roast for 4 hours, or until the meat is tender and will fall away from the bone. Take it out and let it cool before you start…
FOR THE FILLING:
- Chop all your veg, if you’re going the joint route, keep it chunky, if you’re using mince, chop it smaller. Get it frying in a good glug of olive oil on a low heat for 10 mins or so
- Take the joint out of the roasting dish and roughly chop it. Add some water to the pan and scrape off what you can with a wooden spoon straight into the pan with the veg.
- Add the meat and any bones along with the stock and the booze. Whack in all the other ingredients, season heavily, bring to the boil, put the lid on the pan and simmer for an hour
- The aim is to get a lovely looking stew with a gravy that’s neither too thick, nor too thin. To bring out the flavours, this involves reducing the liquid by about half. You’ll need to use some skillz to manage how long the lid is on and off for, bu generally it’ll be off for the last half hour
FOR THE TOPPING:
- Boil up the spuds and swede – or roast the squash
- Mash up the veg with the egg yolk, butter and cream until smooth (add the cream gradually to avoid the mash becoming too sloppy)
- Preheat oven to 170 degrees
- Add your filling to a large dish (or individual ones) and spread the mash over the top
- Use a fork to make some plough lines in the top of the mash, then sprinkle over the cheese
- Bake in the oven for 30 minutes