OK, let’s face it, making this Shepherd’s Pie is a mammoth undertaking. I made it for a formal dinner party for friends a few months ago. The effort was worth it. Rich, meaty confited lamb with flavour packed duchesse potatoes, red wine and rosemary. What’s not to like?
Ingredients for 6:
For the lamb
A whole shoulder of lamb, weighing approximately 3kg
1 bottle of dry white wine
1 bulb of garlic
3 sprigs of rosemary
For the duchesse potato
1.2 kgs of potatoes, peel and cube.
125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 egg yolks
120g grated parmesan
For the sauce
The reserved pan juices from the lamb
1 tablespoon redcurrant jelly
1 shallot, chopped
1 glove of garlic, well crushed
1 teaspoon of roughly crushed rosemary leaves
150 ml of lamb stock (use a very good beef stock if you have no lamb stock)
150 ml good full bodied red wine
Unsalted butter, to finish
For the herb oil
50 ml groundnut oil
50 ml olive oil
¼ teaspoon of sugar
½ teaspoon of rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh chives
Now on the day before, put the apron on and start by …
First making the herb oil. Blitz all of the ingredients together in processor until the herbs are as fine as possible. Pour into a bowl or jug, cover with clingfilm and refrigerate to allow the flavours to develop,
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius.
Place the shoulder of lamb into a large roasting tin, cut the bulb of garlic in half and along with the rosemary and some seasoning, add to the lamb.
Add the bottle of white wine to the roasting tin.
Wrap the entire roasting tin with several layers of tin foil.
Put the lamb into the oven and cook for 8 hours (I usually cook this overnight).
On the day …
Remove the lamb from the oven and take the shoulder out of the tin.
Strain the remaining pan juices and set aside for later.
One the lamb is cooled, shred the meat from the bones, removing the garlic, rosemary and any sinew and fat.
Place the shredded lamb meat onto clingfilm and roll into a sausage shape – about 5 inches in diameter, allow to cool fully and then place into the fridge to set.
To make the duchesse potatoes – place the potatoes into cold, well salted water. Bring to the boil and then simmer until tender.
Drain and reserve a little of the water.
Into a large bowl, add the cubed butter and parmesan.
Push the drained potatoes through a potato ricer into the bowl of butter and parmesan.
Stir the potatoes well and make sure all of the butter and parmesan is well mixed.
Beat the egg yolks and stir rapidly into the potato mix.
If the mixture is too heavy to stir, add a very small amount of the water that you reserved when you drained the potatoes.
Set aside to chill.
Construct your shepherd’s pies ….
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Remove the chilled confit lamb shoulder from the fridge. Cut into 2 inch slices and remove the cling film. Place on a baking sheet.
Fill a piping bag with the duchess potato mixture and pipe onto the top of each slice of lamb confit.
Brush with melted butter and place into the oven. Cook for 20 minutes, until the confit is warm and the potatoes are golden.
Whilst the lamb is cooking, make your sauce:
Heat olive oil in a sauté pan and gently free the shallot, garlic and rosemary for a few minutes, until soft.
Add the red wine, cook on a high heat to reduce by half.
Once reduced, add the pan juices and stock. Reduce by half.
Pass the sauce through a fine sieve to remove the shallot, garlic and rosemary.
Finish in a small pan by adding the redcurrant jelly, stir until melted. Add a few cubes of chilled butter to enrich the sauce and add a glossy shiny finish.
Assemble the dish ….
Add your red wine sauce to a warmed plate.
Place the shepherd’s pie in the centre of the sauce.
Add a few drops of herb oil around the edge of the plate.
Serve immediately. I like to serve this with a side dish of griddled asparagus, steamed courgettes and petit pois.
There is something very decadent and romantic about Champagne Risotto
Ingredients to make enough to serve 2 moderately hungry people:
25g unsalted butter
1 onion, very finely chopped
1/3 stick of celery, very finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic
135g Arborio risotto rice
225ml champagne / extra dry cava
500ml very good chicken stock
50g grated parmesan
1 handful of chopped herbs – optional (parsley, basil, tarragon are good).
Now put the apron on and start by …
Melting 25g unsalted butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.
Add onions and celery and fry until soft and translucent. Stir in a tiny amount of garlic. I prefer the main aromatic flavour here to be onion and celery, so go easy on the garlic.
Add the rice and stir for 1 minute until all of the grains are coated and shining with butter.
Add 225ml Champagne and simmer until almost all the liquid has evaporated, stirring often.
In a separate pan, have your chicken stock simmering, with a small ladle at the ready.
Add the chicken stock ladle by ladle, waiting until each ladle full has almost been fully absorbed before adding another ladleful. It will take around 18 minutes to cook the whole dish, or until the rice is tender but still firm, stirring often. You may not need all of the stock.
Turn off the heat, stir in 50g freshly grated Parmesan and a knob of butter and put the lid on and leave for 1 minute.
Season to taste and fold in a handful of freshly chopped herbs (parsley, basil, tarragon are good).
Risotto should be served with a ‘wave’, i.e. it should not be a solid lump on the plate, but ooze to the edge of the dish, without being too runny at the same time!
Risotto should always be cooked over a medium heat, a too high heat will cook the outside of the rice grains too quickly and the inside will remain hard and at the same time, a too low heat will leave you with soggy rice.