Shepherd's Pie

Image by Mariana Fernandez

Image by Mariana Fernandez

Shepherd’s Pie is one of our all-time favorite comfort foods. To liven up this traditional recipe, we skip the tomato paste and add our Classic Vodka Tomato Sauce. With just the right amount of cream and vodka, our sauce adds a full-bodied flavor that will make your filling seem like it has been simmering for hours. Serve with a side of crusty bread, a green salad, and of course, a nice stout! 

For the potato crust:
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
1/4 cup half-and-half
2 ounces unsalted butter (1/2 stick) 
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 egg yolk

For the meat filling:
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup carrots, peeled and diced small
1 1/2 pounds ground lamb
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Classic Vodka
1/2 cup chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons freshly chopped rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves
1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas

A few sprigs of thyme to decorate


Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Start with the potato crust. Cut the potatoes into 1/2-inch cubes. Place cubed potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Set over high heat, cover. Once the water comes to a boil, bring the pot to a simmer. Cook until the pieces are fork-tender, but not so much that they start to disintegrate, about 10-15 minutes. Drain the potatoes. Set aside 1/2 cup of boiling water to add if the potatoes become to thick. Mash the potatoes by hand or by mixer, incorporating the half and half, butter, salt and pepper, and water as needed. Continue to mash until smooth and until all the butter has melted. Stir in the yolk until well combined. Set aside. 

Next, move onto your filling. Place 2 tablespoons of canola oil into a large cast iron skillet. Set over medium high heat. Once the pan heats up, add onions and carrots. Sauté until lightly brown or 3-4 minutes. Add the lamb, salt and pepper and cook until the meat is brown. Dust the meat with the flour and toss to coat, continuing to cook for another minute. Add the Classic Vodka, chicken broth, Worcestershire, rosemary, thyme, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a low simmer, cover, 10 to 12 minutes or until the sauce is thickened slightly. If the sauce is too thick, add chicken broth as needed. Remove the skillet from heat. Add peas and stir until evenly distributed. Once the skillet has stopped bubbling, use a spatula to evenly coat the lamb with a thick layer of mashed potatoes. Be sure to create a seal around the edges to prevent the sauce from bubbling over. Place a parchment lined baking sheet on the lowest shelf in the oven. Place the skillet on the middle rack. Bake for 10 minutes. Then, turn the oven settings to a high broil. Broil until the top of the crust is golden brown, about 3-4 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack for at least 10 minutes before serving. Decorate with fresh thyme.

Serves 8. 

Melissa Vitelli