Northwest Shepherd’s Pie
This traditional Irish dish is a hearty and delicious meal that is perfect for cold winter nights. Sop it up with a couple of slices of whole wheat bread, a nice green salad on the side, and a glass of red wine and you’re bound to be kicking off your boots by the fire and dozing in pure delight.
I really wanted to pump up the traditional ingredients with some seasonal fair, so I added a layer of braised leeks and two huge celery roots to the mashers. Celery root is definitely one of my favorite seasonal ingredients. It’s mellow yet rich celery flavor adds a distinct depth to mashed potatoes.
For the stew below, a simple saute of carrots, shallots and celery, along with ground lamb and fresh sage made a rich thick base for the fluffy, creamy pillows above it. Which, of course, I made even fluffier and creamier by adding heavy cream, butter, ricotta and chèvre.
I know, over kill. But it was just too good not to. Go ahead and see for yourself, just the mashers recipe alone is worth a whirl if you don’t want to go to all the trouble of making the pie. But if you do, one great way to present it is in some bread bowls, just skip the final baking step, or broil lightly to brown the masher tops.
- For the mashers:
- 2 large russets, peeled and diced large
- 2 large celery roots, peeled and diced large
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 3 Tbsp butter
- 8oz ricotta
- 4oz chèvre
- 1/4 cup chives
- Salt and pepper
- For the stew:
- 3 Tbsp oil
- 1 cup celery, finely diced
- 1 cup carrots, finely diced
- 1 1/2 cup shallots, finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 Tbsp fresh sage
- 2 tsp dried thyme
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 1 Tbsp tomato paste
- 2 Tbsp flour
- 1/2 cup red wine or port
- 1 cup stock
- Salt and pepper
- 1 large leek (optional), well-rinsed, halved and sliced crosswise, whites and light greens only
- 2 Tbsp butter (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil, add 2 tablespoons of salt. Boil potatoes until fork tender, about 10-12 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a large bowl or standing mixer. Add celery root and cook until fork tender, about 13-15 minutes. Strain and add to bowl. In a small pan heat cream and butter until hot but not boiling. Add to celery root-potato mixture and mix in. Gently fold in cheeses and chives, season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover with foil or a towel to keep warm.
- In a large skillet bring oil up to medium-high heat. Saute celery, carrots and shallots until soft, about 5-6 minutes. Mix in garlic, thyme and sage, stirring for 1-2 minutes. Add in lamb and cook until just done, about 10-15 minutes. Drain all but a couple tablespoons of fat from pan. Add tomato paste and stir to coat, cooking for 2-3 minutes. A light fond, the brown bits sticking to the bottom of the pan, should form. Sprinkle flour over mixture and mix in well. Add wine and stock, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any cooked on bits. Cook until thickened, about 3-4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- To create a layer of leeks, melt butter in a large saute pan. Add leeks and cook over medium heat until they soften and begin to brown. Season and remove from heat.
- To assemble, in a large casserole dish, or a few small dishes, layer stew filling, leeks and mashers. Place in oven and bake until the top begins to brown. Remove, let cool for 10 minutes and serve with bread.