Mrs. Jackson Cooks

Life through food

When you need to feel warm and cosy shepherd’s pie

on November 11, 2010

I was wondering what to do with some mince in the fridge – thought about keema dahl or some other keema curry dish, but it just wasn’t grabbing me.  I wanted potatoes not rice.  And then, whilst flicking through Cook in Boots, I came across Ravinder’s Spicy Shepherd’s Pie.  And it sounded just delicious and perfect for what I wanted on a cold autumnal post-bonfire night.   Whilst I love a good traditional shepherd’s pie any time, I do sometimes think they’re a little bit boring and this recipe is that wonderful blend that Ravinder seems to get so well, of fusing Indian spices with just about anything!  In this case, shepherd’s pie.

To be honest, it’s not that spicy.   In future I’ll probably add another chilli.  But it does have a bit of a kick, and so if you’re really not into things with chilli then maybe just use one chilli and remove the seeds.

And partly because I’ve still got a load of apples to use up, and partly because I wasn’t sure what to do with the leftover egg whites from this recipe, I made Delia’s apple & mincemeat Jalousie to go with this – which was perfect too, not only because they cook at the same oven temperature!  That’ll be the next post after this, in case you want to make both too.   The jalousie is a great autumnal pudding, it inspires all the best anticipation of Christmas (and not those that bring you out in cold sweats like the queues on the motorway for people getting to the Trafford centre!).  And really, with ready made puff pasty, it couldn’t be easier!

Anyway, enough of that, back to the shepherd’s pie.  Now of course, if you don’t have lamb mince, just make cottage pie instead with beef mince.  Just do everything the same except substitute the minces.

The only things I did differently, simply because of what I happened to have in the fridge, was I used semi-skimmed milk instead of whole milk (who has that stuff anyway, apart from kids?) and I used low fat creme fraiche instead of double cream.  I’m not sure what the difference is in taste – it tasted gorgeous to me – but with less calories. But by all means, try the full fat version if you like.

A note on paprika.  I have discovered that not all spices are alike.  If bought from markets in marrakech or madrid, they are full of smell and flavour and very enticing.  If bought in jars from the supermarket, are a little insipid and uninspiring.  Now, of course we can’t just jet off whenever we need some spice, so I’ve found good alternatives.  The hot paprika found in Spain can also be bought from good delis or specialist food/world food  shops.  And many Indian style spices can be found in Indian supermarkets (and sometimes Chinese supermarkets) and whilst they’re not as good as the fresh thing (definitely stock up whenever you happen to be in the right place on holiday) they are better than the normal supermarket stuff.

However, if all you have is the supermarket stuff, then definitely use it, it’s better than nothing at all!  I usually add double of any spices if using supermarket stuff, just to get the flavour and smell.

Don’t be put off by the egg yolks.  It’s not at all hard to separate the yolk and whites of an egg.  Get a small bowl.  Carefully crack the egg over the bowl (attempt to do this so that you have 1/3 and 2/3 of the shell and the smaller part in your non-dominant hand (in my case I’m left handed, so I’d try to have the smaller part in my right hand)).  It doesn’t matter if you don’t manage it like this, it just makes it easier.  Carefully, keeping the yolk in the larger bit of the shell, pour the white out of the smaller bit, then using the smaller bit as a scoop to hold the yolk in the larger bit, carefully pour the white out the larger bit until the yolk starts to fall – then carefully pour the yolk into the smaller bit of shell and pour the rest of the white out of the larger bit.  Keep passing the yolk from each bit of shell until you just have the yolk left and all the white is in a small bowl.  And voila, separated yolk and whites!

Ravinder Bhogal’s Spicy Shepherd’s Pie

Serves 4 (these are big portions, it could easily serve 6 if served with some side salad or roasted veges).

1 tbsp olive oil (I used chilli oil to give it a bit more spice)

1 onion finely chopped

1 carrot finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

500g minced lamb (or beef, or chicken or quorn.  If using chicken use white wine vinegar instead of red)

200ml chopped tomatoes (I used a 400g tin of tomatoes)

1 tbsp tomato puree

1inch knob of fresh root ginger, grated

2 green chillis (I’d use 3 if you want it spicy, or 1 if you don’t, plus remove seeds)

1 tbsp red wine vinegar (white if using chicken).  If you don’t have this use a glug of red wine instead (and drink the rest of the bottle with it!)

salt & pepper

100g frozen peas (tinned will do fine too)

250ml boiling water (use less if using tinned tomatoes and/or red wine instead of vinegar)

For the mash

750g potatoes, peeled and chopped into small squares

75g unsalted butter (or in my case, margerine)

2 egg yolks

40ml milk

40ml double cream (or 2 tbsp creme fraiche)

sprinkling of hot paprika

  1. Boil the potato cubes in water and some salt until cooked – about 10-15 minutes.  Drain and leave til later
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large pan (I used a saucepan) and fry the onion, carrot and garlic until softened and golden brown (on a medium heat).
  3. Add the cumin and cinnamon and fry until very fragrant.
  4. Add the mine and fry until browned, braking it up with the spatula or spoon.
  5. Then add the tomatoes, tomato puree, ginger, chillis, vinegar (or wine) and seasoning.  Let it bubble and reduce until the tomatoes have broken down.
  6. Add the peas, stir well, and then pour in the water.  Bring to the boil, then simmer on a low heat and cover the pan for 25 minutes.
  7. Mash the cooked potatoes, then mash in the butter and egg yolks.
  8. Slowly pour in the milk and creme fraiche and mash again until it is smooth and lump free.
  9. Pour the cooked meat mix into the bottom of a high sided baking dish and top off with the mash.  Use a spoon to dab bits of the mash all over – if you stick it on top in one lump it’ll sink through the meat mix, and it’s harder to spread out.
  10. Then use the back of the spoon or a knife to smooth over.
  11. Ravinder recommends leaving a few little holes where the meat mix pokes through so it bubbles up and goes all crispy and rustic.
  12. The sprinkle some paprika on top and bake in the oven until golden and crispy on top and the meat mix is bubbling.  About 25-40 minutes.
  13. Serve with your favourite sauce and feel all warm and snuggly again.
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