If it uses minced uncooked lamb, it’s a shepherd’s pie, and if it uses leftover cooked beef, it’s cottage pie. Coming from a sheep farm, I prefer the former, and I also add an untraditional layer of home-cooked, jammy tomato sauce under the potato. Serve with a huge bowl of fresh peas, and you will win over young and old.
Heat butter and cook onions and garlic for 10 minutes. Add minced lamb and cook, stirring, until browned. Sprinkle flour on top of meat and stir well, allowing flour to cook. Add tomatoes, bay leaf and parsley and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Feel free to add a little water as it cooks, if necessary, to create more of a sauce. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust accordingly.
Peel potatoes and cook in simmering, salted water until tender. Drain and return briefly to the heat to dry out any excess moisture. Mash thoroughly, adding milk, salt and pepper.
Pour meat sauce into a lightly oiled one-litre (1 ¾ pint) pie dish, top with tomato jam if desired, and spread a thick layer of mashed potato on top. Add a few little dobs of butter on top, and bake for 30 minutes, until potato is crisp and brown on top and meat is hot.
© 1998 All rights reserved. Published by Murdoch Books.