Lamb is the traditional meat for a British shepherd’s pie, though ground beef is an ideal alternative if you’re unable to find (or order) ground lamb. With beef, this technically becomes a “cottage pie” instead. A little trivia for that next round of Foodie Fight.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the carrot and onion and cook until the carrot is nearly tender, about 5 minutes. Add the lamb and cook until it is no longer pink, 5 to 7 minutes, breaking up the meat into small pieces as it cooks.
Stir in the tomato paste, parsley, vermouth, and rosemary. Season the mixture to taste with salt and pepper and cook a few minutes longer, until well blended and cohesive. Set aside.
Put the potato pieces in a pan of salted water and bring to a low boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the potatoes are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain well and let sit for a few minutes, allowing most of the steam to evaporate. Return the potato pieces to the empty pan and mash with a potato masher or large whisk. Add the half-and-half and butter and continue to mash until evenly blended and smooth. Stir in the cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Spoon the lamb mixture into 8 (½-cup) ramekins or other small baking dishes. Top with the mashed potato, spreading it evenly. Set the ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet and
© 2010 Cynthia Nims. All rights reserved.