The other week we were asked to develop a shepherd’s pie - not just any shepherd’s pie, but “the greatest shepherd’s pie EVER”. So no pressure then.
So we put on our pastry hats (we do actually have pastry hats) and had a good think. This was when we thought of wild garlic – we’d seen hordes of it packing out the verges of the lanes in Cornwall, it’s got a fantastically sweet, subtle garlic flavour that would go beautifully with spring lamb.
So here’s our recipe for wild garlic shepherd’s pie. This one comes in 3 parts: the meat, the sauce and veg., and the mash. We made ours with a shortcrust pastry base and a fluffy mash piped on top, which makes them great as individual portions. Feel free to leave out the shortcrust and make as a sharer in a ceramic dish. Makes enough for 8 lunch-sized pies (or for 4 to share).
500g lamb shoulder or neck
bunch of wild garlic, keep 10 leaves whole, finely chop the rest
bunch of rosemary, finely chopped
bunch of parsley, finely chopped
100g peas (of course)
100g diced carrot (into little cubes)
100g diced onion
500ml really good lamb stock (if you’ve got time, make yer own)
500ml white wine
1 tblspn tomato puree
400g Red Desiree or King Edward potatoes
100g butter + a knob for frying
1 egg yolk
sprinkle of nutmeg
salt to taste
600g shortcrust pastry
- Slow roast the lamb. Preheat the oven to 140. Season the meat with a hefty pinch of salt, wrap in wild garlic leaves and place in a roasting dish. Roast for 4 hours until it’s falling apart. Let it cool and then shred it into chunks.
- Put a deep frying pan on the hob and get it nice and hot. Drop in a lug of sunflower oil and knob of butter, and then fry off the diced onion until it starts to go golden.
- Stir in the tomato puree, the diced carrot and the chopped rosemary. Fry for another 3-4 mins then add the white wine. Let this reduce by about a third before adding the lamb stock. Cook until the carrots are tender, and remove from the heat.
- At this stage, add the peas, parsley and wild garlic and season to taste. Add the shredded lamb and allow to cool – this is your shepherd’s pie filling. It should have quite a bit of liquid, but shouldn’t be swimming. You can always adjust by either adding more wine or lamb stock, or by straining off some of the liquid and reducing in a pan.
- The mash. Get a pot of salted water to boiling point on the hob. Peel and chop the potatoes into 2cm chunks and boil in the salted water until tender throughout At the same time, warm the milk and the cream in a pan with a sprinkle of nutmeg. Strain the potatoes until completely dry and pop back in the pot, along with the butter, the egg yolk and the cream/milk/nutmeg. Do the mashed potato. The egg yolk will stabilize the mash when it bakes.
- If you’re making individual pies, roll out the pastry to line your pie cases. About 4mm thickness will do, and leave a lip standing proud of the case. Fill 2/3 with the lamb mix, and top with mash – it looks great if you can get hold of a piping bag with a star nozzle, if not – spoon away.
- Bake at 180 for 40 mins if using pastry, 30 mins if not. Serve piping hot and in a hedgerow.