George’s Favorite Shepherd’s Pie

George’s Favorite Shepherd’s PieMy Foodie Valentine
In all of the years that I have known him, I’ve probably made thousands of meals for my Valentine. Strangely enough, I think the first legit meal I made for him wasn’t actually for him. It was a dinner for his best friend’s 30th Birthday. Prime Rib and a Turtle Swirl Cheesecake. Epic…

I’m not sure if he understood when we started dating that, among other things, he was now my official taste tester and culinary lab rat. Not that he ever considered that to be a hardship. But, with this marriage came the legal requirement to be my taster. (It was in the vows.)

The good news is that he really isn’t picky. My Valentine is happy to eat whatever I put in front of him—mostly because it means he doesn’t have to make dinner. Rarely has he taken a bite and spit it out. But, there have been a few over the years and plenty of so-so meals….

The first time I blew his mind, I made a Brazilian Bahia-Style Seafood Stew that had coconut milk and all sorts of good stuff in it. It was tasty, though not exactly healthy. When I introduced him to Moroccan food he ate so much I found him was lying on the couch moaning in pain. It’s a toss-up as to whether to take that as a compliment or pity his lack of self-restraint. More often than not though, it’s the simple dishes that send him into dining rapture.

Among his favorites are chicken cutlets with milk gravy, Red Beans and Rice, and a perfectly grilled steak. Paella is another as is a my Green Chili Rice Casserole. And, don’t forget the Grilled Pork Chops with Sweet Lemongrass Marinade

The other night I made a Shepard’s Pie and you would have thought I got takeout from the French Laundry. I mean, it was good. But, I wouldn’t have anticipated the fight for the leftovers the next day. Frankly, I think it was more that it was the perfect dish at the perfect time.

So in honor of my Valentine of 20 years, here is the Shepherd’s Pie I made that blew his mind. May your sweetie enjoy it as much as mine did…

George’s Favorite Shepherd’s Pie

For the Potatoes
1 1/2 pounds potatoes
1/4 cup half-and-half or milk
2 ounces butter
Salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 egg yolk

For the Filling
2 tablespoons oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 carrots, peeled and diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds ground lamb
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons freshly chopped rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves
1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup fresh or frozen English peas

Make the Potatoes
Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Place the potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, decrease the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until tender and easily crushed with tongs (about 10 to 15 minutes).

Place the half-and-half or milk and butter into a microwave-safe container and heat in the microwave until warmed through (about 35 seconds). Drain the potatoes in a colander and then return them to the saucepan.

Mash the potatoes and then add the half and half, butter, salt and pepper and continue to mash until smooth. Stir in the yolk until well combined.

Make the filling
Preheat the oven to 400º F.

While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the filling. Place the canola oil into a 12-inch
sauté pan and set it over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and
carrots and sauté just until they begin to take on color (about 3 to 4 minutes).

Add the garlic and stir to combine. Add the lamb, salt and pepper and cook until
browned and cooked through (about 3 minutes). Sprinkle the meat with the
flour and toss to coat, continuing to cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste,
chicken broth, Worcestershire, rosemary, thyme, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil,
reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly (about 10 to 12 minutes) or until the sauce is thickened slightly.

Assemble the Pie

Add the corn and peas to the lamb mixture and spread evenly into an 11” x 7” glass or ceramic baking dish. Top with the mashed potatoes. Begin around the edges to create a seal to prevent the mixture from bubbling up. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula.

Place the pie on a parchment-lined sheet pan on the middle rack of the oven. Bake
for 25 minutes or just until the potatoes begin to brown. Remove to a cooling rack for
at least 15 minutes before serving.



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