Our forbearers really were a talented bunch. That wonderful recipe, Shepherd’s Pie has been recorded since the 1700s but its roots are probably much earlier. This meal conjures up memories of succulent home cooking and is a national favourite.
The basics for this dish include minced lamb, carrots, onions and potatoes. Other ingredients including stock or even herbs from the Schwartz selection can be added. First fry the onions and add the mince, carrots and any other vegetables you might like.
In a separate saucepan boil some peeled potatoes; King Edwards are probably the best. When both the mince and the spuds are ready find an ovenproof dish and pour in the meat mixture.
Mash the potatoes and cover the meat with the result, you can make decorative patterns in the mash by piping the mash potato. This will improve the look of the dish and also provide a raised surface which will brown better during cooking.
Finally, dab knobs of butter over the surface of the dish and place in the oven; the temperature should be 180°C or gas mark 4.
Cook the Shepherd’s pie for around 25 minutes. This dish can also be frozen before cooking so that you have something ready in the freezer for emergencies.
Some people find it easier to use a Shepherds Pie mix in order to enhance the taste of the dish; it all depends how much time you have and also what your taste buds prefer.
Given that Shepherd's Pie is traditionally associated with the winter why not compliment it with a delicious warming pudding? The lovely summer and autumnal fruits that abound in the UK can be used in a multitude of dessert recipes including a tasty fruit crumble or even a conventional pie accompanied with either custard or cream.
For either of these second courses all you need to do is to lightly stew the fruit, try not to murder it to a pulp, then place in a baking dish and cover. For a crumble you will need to make breadcrumbs from sugar, flour and butter.
Cooking time is around 45 minutes. If you are making a pie then again, soften the fruit, strain any surplus liquid and while you are waiting for the fruit to cook roll out the pastry and line a pie dish.
Add the fruit to the pastry covered dish and then decorate the surface with either strips of pastry for a latticework effect or cover the whole dish completely. Some people will have initially baked the pie blind, which means that they have already cooked the base of the dish and filled the pastry base with some baker’s beans in order for it not to shrink.This is beneficial because it means that the addition of the fruit will not make the dish taste mushy and ensures that the base is as well cooked as the covering.