Lamb Shepherd’s Pie
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Comfort Food
There are some foods that will forever be associated with a time, a season, a place. Burgers hot off the grill will always make you feel like you’re at a summer BBQ, shepherd’s pie is meant to be eaten in front of a roaring fire on a snowy day, and pumpkin anything conjures up images of fallen leaves and kids trick-or-treating. And for me, a hot bowl of soup always feels like a cure for the sniffles, no matter what the season. The question is, when are these images a little too real.
You see, last week, feeling just fine, I got the idea to make posole this week. For those who don’t know, posole is a Mexican soup that I consider to be the south-of-the-border version of chicken noodle. It’s really nothing like chicken noodle, aside from the fact that some versions, including ours, have chicken, but it’s so warm and spicy and comforting, it’s the perfect cure for a bad winter cold. But this time I wasn’t making it to cure a cold – I just had a taste for it. Or so I thought.
When I woke up Monday morning, soup day, I had a terrible sore throat. Throughout the day it got predictably worse – the aches, the sniffles, the fatigue. By the time I left work I had to drag myself to the Mexican grocery store to buy all the ingredients. By the time I was feasting on my soup I was fairly convinced that soup doesn’t cure colds, it causes them! Some would say I’m delusional and the cold was caused by the extreme amount of drinking I did over the weekend at my re-employment party, but I’ll always be skeptical. All I know is that if any of you make this shepherd’s pie over the weekend and we wake up to record low temperatures, I’ll know who to blame.
- 2 lbs boneless lamb shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes (our butcher sells lamb stew meat, so we bought that)
- salt, to taste, divided
- pepper, to taste, divided
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 8 Tbsp butter, divided
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 3 carrots, diced
- 3 stalks celery, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 Tbsp flour
- 3 1/3 cups beef stock (I really recommend splurging for stock, rather than broth)
- 2/3 cup dry white wine (we used pinot grigio)
- 2 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
- 3 lb baking potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
- 6 oz goat cheese
- heavy cream, as needed (we used about a quarter cup)
- 1 cup fresh or thawed frozen peas
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Season lamb with salt and pepper.
- Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add lamb in batches, to avoid over crowding. Cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes per batch. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
- Reduce heat to medium and add 4 tablespoons of the butter to the Dutch oven. Once butter is melted, add onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until veggies tender-crisp, about 5 minutes.
- Uncover, sprinkle with the flour and stir well.
- Gradually stir in stock, wine and rosemary. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
- Return the lamb to the Dutch oven, cover, and place in the oven. Cook 1 hour or until lamb is tender.
- While lamb is braising, make the mashed potato topping. Place the potatoes in a saucepan and add enough water to cover them. Salt the water generously.
- Cover the pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, uncover and reduce heat to medium. Simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain well and return the potatoes to the pan. Add goat cheese and 3 tablespoons of butter to the pan and use a handheld mixer to whip the potatoes. Add cream as needed – you want them smooth but not liquidy and loose. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- When lamb is done, taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the mixture to a large casserole dish. Sprinkle peas atop the lamb mixture. Dollop the mashed potatoes on top and dot the potatoes with bits of the remaining tablespoon of butter. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes. Turn the oven to broil and cook about 5 more minutes, until the top has little bits of brown.
- Let stand 5 minutes. Serve hot.