It’s once again an Australia Time Friday! It’s FRIDAY!!!!
Posting this a bit late on California Thursday as after a very large meal I vegged out on the sofa for a while ;-)
I decided to try making a Shepherd’s Pie. I’ve not made one before. It turned out rather well. Paired with this lowly dish that started life as rustic era leftovers, I chose a Cabernet Sauvignon, of course, as I have a perverse sense of humor ;-)
Looking up recipes for Shepherd’s Pie I found a few thousand in endless variations. Even some made with chicken, turkey or pork and both vegetarian & vegan variations (unclear on the concept of “shepherd” as herding sheep…)
Tossing out the non-red meat versions, and choosing lamb over beef (technically beef is a ‘cottage pie’ today, though the history says in the early days Shepherd’s Pie was allowed as a name for either): The next big divide is “tomato sauce” vs “gravy”.
As tomatoes make the arthritic tendency of some joints to flair, we went the gravy route.
Next stop is “Vegetables or not?”. I chose a middle path. Old School is just meat & onion / garlic. “Re-imagined” is a bucket of all sorts of vegetables with minor intrusions of lamb… What I did was 1 pound of minced lamb, 1 medium onion, 3 cloves garlic, and about 1/2 cup of green peas. Just enough for the occasional pea for color, but not enough to actually notice any peas (yet I can claim I ate my vegetables ;-)
Onion was diced and sauteed for about 4 minutes in olive oil. Then the meat was added in small bits. As it started to lose the pink, the minced and crushed garlic was added, along with salt & pepper and a small drizzle of soy sauce. Many recipes called for Worcestershire Sauce which I don’t have but is mostly soy sauce, so…
The peas were heated in a small pan, and the spuds (4 large) were done in a pressure cooker. The spuds got about 1/2 a stick of butter added, along with salt & some white pepper, and a splash of milk, then the hand mixer made them a creamy mashed.
I removed the meat from the iron skillet and let it cool some during the spuds cooking time. Then added about 2 TBLs of flour to make a roux, and used a bit of potato water to get a gravy going. Meat added back in, the whole thing simmered just a bit, peas stirred in, then time to assemble.
In a 9 in x 9 in flat baking dish, I layered the meat mix on the bottom, spuds over the top, into a 450 F oven for about 20 minutes and done!
You know something is good when you have trouble waddling back into the kitchen after your second plate full of it and still want to try eating more…
Shepherd’s Pie originated as a way to use “leftover” roasted meats and occasionally some vegetables. As this is a way humble beginning, I decided to go to the wine most often consumed with THE most expensive cuts of red meat possible. Cabernet. In this case, Martin’s Pickup Truck. Vintage only 2019, but oddly, it was not in need of much age. Right from the bottle it was smooth and rich. It could stand another year or two to reach an ideal state, but unlike some other Cabs, it was drinkable now. (Some cabs have loads of harsh tannin when fresh and need 5 to 10 years to deposit them as sediment in the bottle and become smooth).
I liked this wine. I’ll be buying more of it. Not anything particularly spectacular about it. Not going to talk about chocolaty notes or a nose of raspberry or any of that kind of stuff. Just a nice drinkable flavorful Cabernet with plenty of varietal flavors to it. Not one of those Cabs where unless you alternate it with chunks of cheese or salami it abrades the tongue with power and tannin. Nope. This is a soft finish drinkable alone from the glass, if you like. Yet it just goes well with a meat dish. Rather like a much older Cab, but straight from the bottle.
The lamb was the same minced lamb as before, also from Australia.
So, having succeeded at Shepherd’s Pie, it’s now going to be one of my regular dishes. I’m Very Happy with the result.