Full disclosure, this shepherd's pie is from Jamie Oliver's Comfort Food cookbook and my family and I agree that my cottage pie is so much better. Having said that, Jamie did suggest to serve this pie with "lots of condiments" so when we ate it with HP it was much better and not so bland.
If I do make this recipe again, I will be using minced lamb instead of shoulder of lamb, and adding more flavor to the stuffing. I did love the potato crust and topping though; the level of crispiness was phenomenal!
Keep in mind that this is a labor of love, containing hours of cooking and multi-step attention. This made two 9-inch round pies enough to feed 8 people or 4 people twice. You can easily freeze an unbaked pie to cook another time.
900g shoulder of lamb, bone in
2 red onions
1 large turnip
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1/2 heaped tablespoon flour
For the topping, sides & bottom:
1.5 kg potatoes
100g cheddar cheese
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
Preheat the oven to 325F.
In a snug-fitting high-sided roasting tray, rub the lamb 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.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tray, then lift the lamb out onto a board, take all the meat and crispy skin off the bone and roughly chop it, reserving the bones.
Skim away any fat from the tray and set it aside.
For the filling, peel and roughly dice the onions, carrots, and turnip, then put them into a large pot on a medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons of reserved lamb fat.
Strip in the rosemary leaves, then fry the veg for 20 minutes, or until lightly caramelised, stirring regularly.
Stir in the flour, lamb, bones and tray juices, then pour in 3 cups of water.
Bring to the boil, then put the lid on and reduce to a gentle simmer for 40 minutes, or until you’ve got a loose, stew-like consistency, stirring occasionally.
To guarantee intense gravy and a tender but dense filling, remove and discard the bones, then place a large coarse sieve over a pan and, in batches, spoon the lamb stew into the sieve.
Let the gravy drip through, and after a couple of minutes, when you get a dense pile of meat and veg in the sieve, transfer that to a bowl, leaving the gravy in the pan.
For the topping, sides and bottom, peel and roughly chop the potatoes and cook in boiling salted water for 12 to 15 minutes, or until tender.
Drain and leave to steam dry, then add the butter, grate in half the cheese, season to perfection with salt and pepper, mash well and cool completely.
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Use a little reserved lamb fat to grease the inside of two round 9-inch pie dishes, then pick and tear over the rosemary leaves and sprinkle with half the breadcrumbs.
A handful at a time, press the cooled mash into the dish, covering the bottom and sides with a 1cm-thick layer.
Spoon in the filling and a couple of spoonfuls of gravy, smooth out, then top with the remaining mash, pat it flat, scuff it up with a fork and pinch it at the edges.
Grate over the rest of the cheese, scatter with the remaining breadcrumbs and drizzle lightly with oil.
Importantly, bake on the bottom of the oven for about 1 hour, or until crisp and golden.
Warm your gravy through (reducing if desired), then serve the pie with loads of peas and lots of condiments.
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