With the arrival of winter, it's time to heat up the hearth and make a baking date with a golden shepherd's pie. You can make this pie with beef instead of lamb, just cook it a little longer. And, if you find the mashed potato too heavy, try topping the pie with puff pastry.
1kg lamb shoulder, cut into 4cm dice
4 1/2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp plain flour
2 brown onions, peeled, cut into 1cm dice
2 carrots, peeled, quartered lengthways, cut into 1cm pieces
4 celery stalks, cut into 1cm pieces
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves (no stems)
1 tbsp tomato paste
750ml cabernet sauvignon
2 bay leaves
750ml chicken stock (check is gluten-free if required)
800g désirée potatoes
80ml pouring cream
parmesan cheese, to grate over mash
olive oil, to drizzle over mash
Season the lamb well with sea salt and dust lightly in flour. In a large frying pan, heat 2 tbsp oil over a high heat. Add the lamb to the hot oil in batches and brown all over for about 1 minute. Remove the lamb with a slotted spoon and reserve, discarding any excess fat.
Preheat oven to 130°C. In a deep ovenproof saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, heat remaining 2 1/2 tbsp oil over medium heat and add onions, carrots, celery, garlic and thyme. Cook for 10 minutes over a low heat until softened. Add the tomato paste, cook for 2 minutes on medium-high heat. Add the red wine and simmer until the wine reduces to about 250ml (about 10-15 minutes). Add the bay leaves and chicken stock. Bring to the boil and then add the lamb and bring to a simmer.
Cover and place in the oven for about 2 1/2 hours until the lamb is tender. Remove from oven and strain liquid into a pan, reserving vegies and lamb.
In a pan, slowly reduce the liquid for 10 minutes, skimming off any impurities. Fold vegetables and lamb through the reduced sauce. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
Steam potatoes whole until tender. Cool slightly and peel. Mash potatoes with a potato masher or put through a mouli until smooth. Combine butter, milk and cream in a saucepan, season to taste with salt and white pepper and bring almost to the boil. Slowly add the hot-cream mixture to the hot mashed potatoes and mix until well combined and almost smooth.
Place lamb mixture in a baking dish, and top with potato mash. Sprinkle with grated parmesan and drizzle with olive oil to moisten cheese. Place in oven at 160°C for 8-10 minutes to heat evenly, then place under grill at medium heat to caramelise the cheese. Remove and serve immediately.
Photography by William Meppem. Food styling by Hannah Meppem. Food preparation by Nick Banbury.