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Shepherd's Pie, Avec Croute de Fromage

January 18, 2018

A years worth of research went into this beautiful savory dish. A similar pie from a pub in New England drove me even further to do it! Why? Because I live on the West Coast, and well, I had to try and create it myself because I can't go flying off to the East Coast every weekend. Their version made me realize that mine had to be saucier than I have ever made it, and more savory. And the topping had to have more flavor in it...and ON it. The pub had put a cheese crust on top of the mashed potatoes and "so shall I!" became my motto. Many different tries were literally exhausting! Notes were made, notes were scratched out, things were removed, things were added. "Too many peas!" they cried. "Too much rosemary!" I have never peeled and diced so much in my life to try and perfect a recipe. And now? Now they just devour it. Now it is JUUUUST right. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Shepherd's Pie, Avec Croute de Fromage

 

Recipe Yields 6 Servings / Oven 375 Degrees / Bake 30 minutes / Broil for 3 minutes

 

Calories: (TBA)

 

Need: Six 16 oz. Bowls or Ramekins / 2 Large Pots / 1 Large Rimmed Baking Sheet / Large 13" or 14" 6 Quart Saute Pan / Mixer

 

 Filling Ingredients:

 

- 2 Tbsp. Oil (I use olive oil)

- 2 Large onions, peeled and chopped

- 2 Large carrots, peeled and chopped

- 2 lbs. Ground lamb (You can use 1/2 or all ground beef but I don't. There is a reason this is called Shepherd's Pie and not Cowboy Pie)

- 2 c. Beef bone broth, or beef broth (If using regular beef broth don't add 3/4th of the salt below. And if you try to use chicken broth in this dish it just tastes, meh)

- 1 Tbsp. Red wine vinegar (More important to the taste than you know)

- 2 Tbsp. Tomato paste

- 2 3/4 tsp. Salt

- 1 tsp. Dried rosemary

- 1 tsp. Dried thyme

- 2 Handfuls of coursely chopped flat Italian parsley; looks like almost 2 cups

- 2 Tbsp. Corn starch

- 1/4 c. All-Purpose Flour

- 1 c. Frozen peas

- c. Frozen roasted corn (Trader Joe's has this in So Cal)

 

Topping Ingredients:

 

- Two large pots of salted water

- 4 lbs. Russet Potatoes, peeled and cut into one inch chunks

- 1 c. Whole milk

- 4 c. Extra-Sharp White Cheddar Cheese, divided (Sharp and Extra Sharp works too)

- 2 tsp. Salt

- Some salt & pepper sprinkled on top

- 2 Tbsp. finely chopped flat Italian parsley

 

Instructions:

 

1. In a large 13" or 14" 6 quart saute pan over medium-high heat, heat the oil, then add the onions, carrots and lamb. Cook until browned, 8 to 10 minutes.

 

2. Drain the fat and put filling back into saute pan. 

 

3. Add the broth, vinegar, tomato paste, salt and herbs and stir. Simmer for 10 minutes.

 

4. Bring to boil and add the corn starch, stir until blended and barely thickened. Turn down to simmer for 5 minutes.

 

5. Bring to a boil and add 1/4 c. flour. Stir until thickened, remove from heat. Add frozen peas and roasted corn, stir, place lid on top and set aside.

 

6.  Start to boil two large pots of water filled up 3/4th of the way. (If you use one large pot for all the potatoes it will take to long to get the potatoes back to boiling after putting them in.)

 

7. Peel and cut the potatoes while waiting for the water to boil.

 

8. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

 

9. Boil the potatoes for about 13 minutes and/or until tender and a fork goes through easily. While waiting for the potatoes, grate the 4 cups of cheese.

 

10. Drain the potatoes. In a large mixing bowl beat together the potatoes, 2 cups of cheese, 1 cup whole milk, and 2 tsp. salt until mashed and creamy. Set aside.

 

11. Evenly spoon the lamb filling into the six 16 oz. bowls. Next spoon the potato topping evenly onto each bowl. Then evenly distribute the remaining 2 c. of cheese onto each dish. Shake some salt and pepper on top of that and then sprinkle the finely chopped parsley onto the middle top of each dish.

 

12. Place the bowls onto the large rimmed baking sheet, careful not to let them slide as you place them into the oven. They can be heavy.

 

13. Bake for 30 minutes and then turn the broiler on and broil the tops until browned, about 3 minutes and remove from oven. (My broiler stopped working so my mechanically skilled husband used a blow torch to brown the cheese encrusted tops of our meal. Very entertaining!)

 

14. Cool for about 15 to 30 minutes before serving. Please share any comments or ideas on how you made this dish your own "Creation In The Kitchen"

 

*If you wish to bake this all as one large dish, then place the filling into a 3 quart baking dish that is no more than 3 inches tall so that all the potato topping fits and isn't too deep above the lamb filling. Bake for 35 minutes and broil the same way.

 

*You can cut this recipe in half to place in a 1 1/2 quart baking dish and bake the same way.

 

*Or make the full recipe and divide between two 1 1/2 quart baking dishes. Bake one and freeze the other one to be baked later. If freezing to bake later, bake the frozen one for 70 minutes using foil to form a tent over the dish. Then uncover and bake another 20 minutes. Then broil for 3 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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