Similar to so many families, we have our own favourite traditions at home. Festive Sunday family lunch in one of them. The weekly rhythm pulses with so many individual engagements that we rarely have the time to sit together and relax over a family meal at home. Everyone is in a hurry over so many different priorities that time as such is precious and we certainly do not posses it to create and enjoy elaborate culinary family creations every single day. But eventually, time comes to a stop and Sunday brings a sense of calm and relaxation. Time for one self, but also time for each other and definitely time to gather, cheer up and feast.
A glorious spring, full of tender scented blossoms is already here, but the weather outside is still chilly and cold. Perfect for a warm and hearty family meal like the famous Shepard’s Pie. I have been contemplating to try this recipe for a while, wondering if my loved ones might like the flavour. Considered as a delicious comfort food, there is no real reason why it should not be nourishingly filling for the body and the soul.
Preparing the dish, I am pleasantly surprised, how much it reminds me of the traditional Bulgarian Moussaka. What is even more surprising, is that both dishes have been developed centuries ago, completely independent from one other in an utter separation by distance, culture and food customs and yet somehow the faint resemblance is easy to see. The Shepard’s Pie, however is admittedly slightly different – a layer of beef meat and softened vegetables, combined in a rich, deep-flavour beef stock and tomato sauce, topped with a heavy layer of mushed potatoes with melted parmesan.
Served with a simple rocket salad its taste is absolutely sublime. It really brings the family together with a sense of cosines and warmth. All that is needed next to it is a glass of red wine and all the weekly worries can finally slip away. It is Sunday after all. Time to relax, enjoy and get ready, with plenty homey love of cheer, for the new day.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, separated
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups finely chopped (1 small yellow onion, 1 celery rib & 1 carrot)
- 1/4 cup white flour
- 1 can (250g) fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
- 250ml beef stock
- 1 beef bouillon cube
- Fresh thyme
- Fresh Parsley
- 300g beef minced meat
- 1 tbsp honey
- 500g potatoes
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp milk
- 200g rasped parmesan
- Ground nutmeg
- black pepper
1. Pour 1 and 1/2 tablespoons olive oil in a large (oven-safe) skillet over high heat and add in the beef. Cook, breaking up the beef, until browned through. Season with salt and black pepper. Take the beef out in a separate dish.
2. In the same fat, where the beef has been cooked add the garlic cloves and finely chopped onion and cook, stirring frequently for about 1 minute. Add the finely chopped carrots and celery and cook for another 2-3 minutes or until veggies are softened. Bring back the beef and mix well with the vegetables. Add in the flour and cook an additional minute to cook off the flour taste. Reduce heat to medium-high and add in the can of diced tomatoes, beef stock, honey, beef bouillon cube and fresh thyme.
3. Bring this mixture to a simmer then reduce heat to medium and bring the mixture to a rapid simmer. Cook for 25-35 minutes at medium heat, stirring every 5 or so minutes, until you have a good thickened gravy. Take out the thyme stalks. If making immediately, place in the fridge until potatoes are done.
4. Preheat the oven to 200C. Peel and then cube the potatoes into golf-ball sized pieces. Place in a microwave oven dish with water covering 1/3 of the potatoes. Set the microwave oven to 750W and boil for 12-14 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.
5. Once the potatoes are ready, prepare the potato mash by adding and mixing butter, milk, nutmeg salt, black pepper and fresh parsley. Combine everything until smooth. Add the rasped parmesan and mix well.
6. Cover the pie with the potato pure, creating a thick layer. Use a fork to add marks into the surface of the potatoes. Drizzle with remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil.
7. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until the potatoes are golden brown and the edges are bubbling. Grill for 1-2 minutes on high to get the very tops of the potatoes crispy! Remove from heat and garnish with fresh thyme or fresh parsley as desired. Serve hot with side rocket salad.