The traditional shepherd’s pie can be quite bland and my basic Shepherd’s Pie recipe has extra seasonings to liven it up. This one brings a touch of Italian using a Napoletana sauce and with grated Parmesan on the top.
1 fresh rosemary sprig (or a large pinch of dried)
225ml/8 fl oz red wine
500g/17 fl oz Napoletana pasta sauce (or similar)
900g/2 lb potatoes (floury)
50g/2 oz butter
50g/2 oz Parmesan cheese, coarsely grated
Brown the lamb in a large pan over a medium heat, stirring frequently to break up any lumps, about 7 minutes. It should be really well browned. Then remove from the pan and set aside.
Add the onion to the pan with the rosemary and cook until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. There should be enough fat left from browning the meat not to require adding any oil.
Return the lamb to the pan and stir in the wine. Loosen any crusty bits from the bottom of the pan, then leave the wine to bubble gently until roughly half of it has evaporated. Stir in the pasta sauce, then simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut the potatoes into large chunks. Put in a pan of water and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20–25 minutes until tender. Drain and return to the hot pan to dry off any excess moisture. Mash with the butter and half the Parmesan.
Preheat the grill to high.
Spoon the meat sauce into a medium-sized ovenproof dish. Top with the potatoes, no need to smooth the surface, then sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan.
Brown under the grill for about 3 minutes.
Serve with seasonal vegetables.
The dish can be prepared ahead of time up to the grill stage. Cover the dish then refrigerate for up to two days. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6 and cook the pie for 25–30 minutes until heated through and golden on top.
Remove any bone and excess fat from chops. If using tenderloin, cut into four equal pieces (see note).
Melt the butter in a frying pan/skillet over a medium heat, add the meat, and cook for about 4 minutes until they are golden brown on both sides.
Meanwhile, spread the onions in the bottom of the ovenproof dish. Cover with the tomatoes, season and add the sugar. Place the pork on top of the tomatoes.
Mix the breadcrumbs with the cheese and sprinkle over the meat.
Cover and bake in the centre of the oven for 45 minutes. Remove the lid and continue to cook for a further 15 minutes.
Serve with seasonal vegetables.
Chops or tenderloin work in this recipe. We tend to prefer the tenderloin so I have added it as an option. To give four equal pieces, I slice it in two and then slice each piece in half horizontally to give four thinner pieces of meat.
1 × 400g/½ × 28 fl oz can chopped tomatoes/diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
140ml/5 fl oz beef stock
10g/½ oz butter
10g/½ oz plain flour/all purpose flour
300ml/10 fl oz milk
1 egg, medium (U.K.)/large (N.A.), beaten
225g/8 oz macaroni
50g/2 oz Cheddar cheese, grated
A 2 litre/3 pint ovenproof dish.
Accompany with a green salad
Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°F)/350°F/gas mark 4.
Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the onion and garlic over a medium-low heat for 3 minutes, until softened. Add the lamb and stir-fry over a high heat for 3–4 minutes until browned all over. Lower the heat and stir in the tomato purée and cook for 1–2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, bay leaves and stock, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and cook for 35–40 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the white sauce. Melt the butter in a small pan, then stir in the flour to make a smooth paste. Cook over a low heat for 1–2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Gradually whisk in the milk, stirring continuously until smooth. Then cook for 4–5 minutes on a low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Beat in the egg. Set the sauce to one side.
Cook the macaroni in boiling salted water according to the packet instructions. Drain well and spoon half into the dish. Spoon the meat sauce over, then top with the remaining macaroni. Pour the white sauce evenly over the top and scatter with cheese. Cook in the oven for 25–30 minutes.
A foolproof way to make a smooth white sauce:
Once the butter has melted, tilt the pan so all the melted butter rests in one corner. Tip the flour onto the pool of butter. It will then be easier to stir to a smooth paste. Also preheat the milk in a microwave, on high, for 1 minute, then gradually whisk it into the roux. Adding warm milk gradually makes a smooth sauce without any lumps.