For our first guest blog post, we have this amazing recipe for Shepherd’s Pie by PsychoChef. PsychoChef is a finance professional by day but a gastronomic addict first and foremost. The PyschoChef is also the mastermind behind all the dishes of Quattro’s and Hakasa Noodle Bar.
My cooking philosophy revolves around the simple truth that if it’s bad for you, it definitely tastes great. If you’re always concerned about calories, constantly jumping on the weighing scales every morning, drowning yourself in green tea all day, then you might as well be a cow living on grass! Once in a while everyone deserves that one hearty wholesome meal. The one meal that makes you sigh with content after it’s over. This Shepherd’s Pie is my go-to hearty meal, made with basic cupboard ingredients (I say basic coz this stuff I always have in my pantry, although some of you might not since nowadays anyone who can boil noodles considers themselves to be a food connoisseur/critic/guru/expert), in the most simplest method possible.
Anyways, let’s begin the process. You should have done your prep by now, which involves dicing the carrots and potatoes, crushing the garlic, defrosting the minced beef and pretty much laying out all ingredients at arm’s length. I absolutely hate it when I’m cooking and I can’t find what I need and have to start looking. It totally throws me off track and gets my knickers in a twist (and I’m a guy).
First, drain and wash the beef mince. In a pan/crock pot, add the diced onions and crushed garlic to the olive oil and sauté on a light heat for about 3 mins. Most cooks in Bangladesh suffer from pre-mature release (if you know what I mean) and they tend to start everything with a bang, on a high heat and blast the crap out of onions. However, what they don’t realize is that nothing tastes sweeter than soft caramelized onions in any dish. Next, add the beef mince and turn up the heat to a medium and brown the beef. Ready the diced carrots, paprika and tomato puree and add them into the mince mixture. By this time the beef has probably let loose some fat (if the mince isn’t lean meat), ladle out the excess liquid and leave in a mug/cup. Now it’s time to add the parsley and the Lea & Perrins – the original Worcestershire Sauce. Honestly speaking, Lea & Perrins is my secret ingredient for my Hearty Sheppard’s Pie, as I find it adds a certain depth and richness to the meat. The final vegetable left is the sweet corn, stir that into the mixture and your mince is 2/3rds ready. Season with the black pepper to add the final zing to your dish.
At this time, boil the potatoes until soft, strain the water and place in a plastic bowl. The reason for using a plastic bowl is because the cooking process stops. Next, add the milk and the butter and start crushing the potatoes until everything is smooth and blended together. The idea is to make sure that the mashed potatoes are light and creamy. Thus I would suggest using a spatula, or a wooden spoon to fold the potatoes so as to let out the air bubbles. Season with salt and your potato topping is done.
Remember the watery beef fat that you ladled and set aside? Now it’s time to turn your beef into royalty, the king of minces, the chairman of the board etc. Incorporate the ladled mixture with 450ml’s of water (that’s about the size of a mineral water bottle) and the beef stock cube, until all the granules have dissolved. This next step is as much fun as it is technical, but the most essential procedure that brings everything together. Mentally divide the flour and the stock into four equal portions. Maintaining a medium heat, add 1/4 of the flour and 1/4 portion of the stock to the meat mix, stir continuously until the flour has dissolved with the meat. You’ll notice that the combination of the flour and the stock acts as a thickening agent, in addition to the stock acting as a seasoning (thus we haven’t added any salt yet). Continue the process until all the flour and stock have been used up. By this time the meat mixture should be a nice thick consistency, bubbling and drying away. Crank up the heat to high and keep stirring for another 2 mins until you leave it to rest.
In a 8″ baking tin pour in bit by bit the beef mince. Fill it up 3/4 and pat it down so the mixture is nice and tight. Take the mashed potato and layer on top of the beef all the way to the top. Use a spoon to spread to the edges of the baking tin. Beat the egg and use a brush to dress lightly over the potato. The pie is now ready and all that’s left is to bake in the oven for 20mins at 220 degrees. I suggest pre-heating the oven 10 mins before you actually place the pie. Cook until there is a light golden brown crust.
For the salad, just chop up some lettuce (romaine lettuce if your poor, iceberg if you’re a snob), tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and olives, a basic garden salad. I prefer to slightly season my salad before adding the dressing. The last and final step is my miraculous dressing. Take an empty glass jar, add the olive oil, the mustard and the balsamic vinegar, cover the lid and shake until the mustard is dissolved and your dressing is ready. Pour over the salad and toss.
Call out to your guests “Dinner is served!”, at the same time you should hope that one of your guests is either on a diet or full from before, coz for sure as hell once you start eating you’ll wish you hadn’t invited people over.
For the Pie:
- Minced Beef – 500gm
- Carrot (Large) diced – 1
- Onions ( Large) shredded – 1
- Crushed Garlic – 1tbsp
- Paprika – 1tsp
- Tomato Puree – 2tbsp
- Dried Parsley Flakes – 2 tbsp
- Lea & Perrins – 4 tbsp
- Sweetcorn – 1/2 cup
- Black Pepper – 1 tsp
- Milk – 1/2 cup
- Potatoes (Large) – 7
- Butter – 200gm
- Beef Stock Cube – 1 (dissolved in 450ml water)
- Flour – 1/4 cup
- Egg (Beaten) – 1
For the Salad & Dressing:
- Tomatoes (diced) – 2
- Cucumbers (diced) – 1 large
- Romaine or Iceberg Lettuce – 200gm
- Shallots (diced) – 2 small
- Green Olives chopped – 1/4 cup
- Olive Oil – 4tbsp
- Yellow Mustard – 1/2 tsp
- Balsamic Vinegar – 1 1/2 tbsp