Thursday, October 7, 2010
Shirazi Shepherd's Pie
Ideally I ought to have called this recipe the Shirazi quick fix or Shirazi easy peasy because is what I make when I don’t want to eat regular home food or slog too hard. I admit I love cooking but I also love doing nothing quite a bit! So please spare me the elaborate stuff ... for those kind of foods I can visit a fine dining outlet and let them suffer it out. I need for my food to taste good, get ready quick and still be ‘fancy’!
Last evening my kid brother brought a dear friend over for an impromptu meal, I am calling it impromptu even though I knew she was supposed to come because I had left the cooking for the very evening she was due over. As luck has been favouring crappy meats like chicken and mutton (I haven’t had time for fish shopping, which is something I do like people buy diamonds...no not occasionally just very very carefully). I had ½ kg of lamb mince and 4 gorgeous chicken breasts. The trouble was that the chicken breasts weren’t plump enough to slit and stuff, they were fairly lean. And then I was sick of making burgers, cutlets and kofta’s the last couple of months. One of my old time favourites has always been a nice, hot Shepherd’s Pie, wholesome and rich ... it is even better as we head closer to winters. I usually serve a loaf of garlic bread warmed up in the oven or if I am adventurous I make a loaf of Focaccia, I also love serving a simple lettuce salad with this because I love eating cold and hot foods together. Probably a hangover from my childhood days of hot meals with chilled raita’s.
So in the company of two youngsters (these kids are in their mid-twenties) I was thrilled to have company when I cook and since I don’t like a lot of help, they seemed happy to be there. I started with putting 3 large potatoes in the pressure cooked, to cook them till soft. On the other fire was the other part of the pie.
Serves – 4 people, if you serve other dishes, then 6
500 gms of Lamb mince
2 onions chopped fine
2 large tomatoes cubed
1 tbsp tomato puree + 1 tbsp ketchup
6 pods garlic minced
2 tsp pepper powder
1 tsp red chilli powder, I use the sachets I get with pizza, the chilli flakes are awesome for this.
1 small bayleaf, this is optional because it is a bit of an overpowering spice and does tend to Indian-ize the dish a bit, but a Canadian friend of mine said it felt just right!
100 ml of water (less than half a cup)
2 tbsp olive oil, again for the zing, regular cooking oil will do too!
3 large potatoes, boiled and mashed
1 tbsp of butter
1 tbsp of milk
Salt and pepper seasoning
1 cup of cheddar cheese, grated. This is optional, we like a cheesy top, though just the potatoes bake nice and crisp too.
Heat the oil and fry the onions and garlic till golden brown. I use a pressure cooker for this, so I can sauté for around 5-7 minutes and then one quick whistle and the mince is ready. Add the mince to the fried onions and garlic, break it all up. We personally don’t like very chunky mince so I ask the butcher to pass it through the mincer twice, yet the sinew can make the meat all clumpy. Use a flat ladle to break it all up and mix well with the onions. Season with pepper and chilli powder, add the bayleaf and cook for 2-3 minutes, add the tomato cubes, the puree and ketchup. Mix well, add salt and cook covered (with a lid and not the whistle) for about 3-4 minutes. Add the water, cover with the pressure cooker’s lid and let it whistle once. Open the lid to check if the mince is too wet, if it is, dry it up a bit on a low heat. Keep it moist and transfer into a square over proof dish. Don’t use a dish that’s too deep, each layer of mince and potato can be about an inch or two in height.
Now mix the milk, butter and seasoning into the mashed potatoes but make sure the mix is firm and not too runny, actually not runny at all. use a spatula to spread this potato mix on the mince, make a thick layer, so the mince or the sauce don’t come to the top, a bit might escape from the sides but that will dry up during baking. I top this whole beauty with a cupful of grated cheddar though a lot of people that’s too much flavour and heartiness for one meal. Bake at 250 degrees for about 5-7 minutes or till the top browns lightly. Serve hot with bread or veggie/onion crackers and a nice green salad.
We had this with a chicken tempura paired with a julienne of red, yellow and green peppers in white sauce, ya I do that! I call it Jap-Mex!