Not the most photogenic of the bunch, trust me, it looks so much better in on the table. This pie is really versatile, lamb or beef work. I’ve done both multiple times and both are delicious. The lamb is the traditional way and it is really a rich, beautiful dish. So if you like lamb, go that route first. This one can be made ahead or frozen, or both since it can be even split into two meals depending on how many you are feeding, which is really great for an unexpected snow – here’s to you Seattle! Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen The Best Make-Ahead Recipes
- 3 lbs ground lamb or ground chuck
- Canola or Vegetable Oil
- 2 medium onions
- 4 garlic cloves, pressed
- 2 TBS tomato paste
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 cups low sodium chicken stock
- 3/4 cup cotes du rhone (or other dry red wine)
- 2 TSP fresh thyme or 1/2 dried
- 1 TSP Worcester Sauce
- 1 TSP minced fresh rosemary or 1/4 TSP dried
- 1 (1lb) bag of peas and carrots medley, FROZEN
- Ground black pepper
- Kosher salt
- 5lb bag of Russet or Idaho potatoes, peeled
- 1 1/2 heavy cream or half and half
- 3/4 stick of butter or to taste
Like always, the key here is to have all the ingredients prepped and ready to go. This is a pretty easy recipe and it goes together quickly once you start. As a side note, to save washing another bowl, I measure my wine and broth together in one measuring cup- a fun little trick when using liquids. If ingredients go in the pot together, like the tomato paste and flour or the thyme, rosemary and worcester, I set them aside in one bowl each, together. That way I can just dump them in together, makes for easier and consistent cooking and less clean up. Ok, here you go, this is easy.
FOR THE FILLING:
In a food processor, mince the onions (I almost puree mine). Set aside in the mixing bowl (sans blade).
Cook the ground meat in a large Dutch oven over medium high-heat, breaking into smaller bite sized pieces until no longer pink and any fat has rendered, about 5 to 7 minutes depending. Strain meat in the Dutch oven and transfer to a bowl, reserving the drippings (if you are using lamb)
If using lamb, keep about 2 TBS of rendered fat in the Dutch oven, or if this is too much, follow directions for beef. If using beef, carefully wipe the inside of the Dutch oven with doubled up paper towels (pot is hot). The pot does not have to be completely clean. Add enough vegetable oil to thinly coat the bottom of your Dutch oven. Heat over medium-high heat until oil is hot and shimmering, not smoking.
Reduce heat to medium-low. Add the onions and 1 TBS of kosher salt, cook until softened and lightly browned about 7 minutes. Stir in garlic and tomato paste until just fragrant, stirring so not to burn the garlic, about 1 minute. Add the flour and stir well to incorporate, about 1 minute. Whisk in, or stir, the broth and wine. Continue to stir well to combine, scraping the bottom of the pan to get any browned bits.
Mix in the drained ground meat to the pot along with the thyme, worcester and rosemary and cook until the mixture begins to thicken. This is what makes it so rich and delicious - anywhere from 2 -5 minutes. Off the heat, stir in your frozen peas and carrots. Season liberally with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.
Pour Mixture into a 9 x 13 casserole dish. I used a Le Crueset braising pan, any casserole dish, even a pyrex will do here.
FOR THE POTATOES:
Peel potatoes and cut into roughly the same sized chunks. I usually just slice them in thirds.
Place the potatoes in your clean Dutch oven. Cover with an inch or so of salted water. Bring to a boil until tender. This is probably going to take another 20 minutes. Potatoes are ready when they are fork tender in the center. Drain in a colander and transfer back into Dutch oven.
Over the lowest heat, mash potatoes (I use a ricer which can be a pain in the ass, so I recommend this which is so much easier). Stir in the cream, 1/4 of a cup at a time, until potatoes are creamy but still have body. Add the butter (to taste). Season really well with kosher salt and pepper.
With a large spoon or spatula, dollop the potatoes onto the pie mixture, starting from the center. Use those potatoes. Smooth out using a spatula to make a nice, even blanket of a topping. Go to the edges.
Place casserole on a foil rimmed baking sheet. Do not forget this step as it will likely bubble over and this saves a huge mess. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bake 20 -25 minutes until the top is lightly browned and mixture is bubbling. You can finish under the broiler, watching carefully not to burn, for 1-2 minutes for a little more brown.
TO STORE IN FRIDGE:
Wrap complete dish tightly with plastic wrap and cover with foil, it can stay like this for up to 2 days in the fridge. When it is time to bake, remove foil and wrap. Place casserole on a foil rimmed baking sheet. Do not forget this step as it will likely bubble over and this saves a huge mess. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bake 40 or so minutes until the top is lightly browned and mixture is bubbling. You can finish under the broiler, watching carefully not to burn, for 1-2 minutes for a little more brown.
You can bake half and freeze half. Just split between two loaf pans (9 x 3). Wrap one tightly with saran and cover with foil. It will last up to 1 month in the freezer. Each loaf should feed 2, maybe three people. Or freeze the entire thing. To make: THAW CASSEROLE IN THE REFRIGERATOR FOR 24 HOURS. Unwrap plastic and foil.. Place casserole on a foil rimmed baking sheet. Do not forget this step as it will likely bubble over and this saves a huge mess. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bake about 1 1/4 hours, until the top is lightly browned and mixture is bubbling. You can finish under the broiler, watching carefully not to burn, for 1-2 minutes for a little more brown.
You are going to want your mashed potatoes to be sturdy enough to hold up to the delicious filling. They may be a little less creamy than you usually make but it's a topping. It will mix with the filling. You want some body. It's easy to do this - just add the cream and butter in slowly, as you mix, to make sure the potatoes hold together and make a thicker crust. Use Cream if you plan on freezing. Milk just doesn't give it the consistency you want here. The original recipe called for 3lbs of potatoes, but that is not enough in my opinion. Go for the fiver. Oh, and as a general rule, do not peel your potatoes too far in advance, as they will oxidize and turn a weird pink color, still safe to eat but pinkish.