While I wait for my dream kitchen to be installed, I dream of nice meals I used to cook. Sometimes I spend ages preparing ingredients and cooking a meal, but often our favourite meals are the ones that just seem to come together out of nowhere, and these shepherd’s pie jackets are no exception. As we were eating them, Andrew and I couldn’t stop talking about how delicious our meal was, and I was chuffed that I took pictures so I could share the meal on here.
This delicious dish came about because I’d defrosted a pack of mince a while ago to make a shepherd’s pie and decided to bulk it out with loads of veggies to stretch the meat a bit further. I love the combination of lamb and swede, but had never added swede to my shepherd’s pie mix so decided to give that a try, alongside the more traditional onions, carrots and tomatoes.
One quarter of the mixture ended up in our tummies that night, and the rest I split into 3 freezer bags for future meals. There’s something very comforting about having a meal in the freezer which simply needs to be defrosted when you want it. Personally I am not a fan of defrosted mashed potatoes, so I would always make that fresh.
The problem with a shepherd’s pie topping is that Andrew isn’t a huge fan of smooth mash, so I have to be quite creative: often I’ll boil and mash the potatoes with the skins on, or mash cooked potatoes with some lightly boiled leeks, or even slice parboiled potatoes and lay them on top of the meat to bake.
I really fancied some smooth mashed potato this time, and in an effort to add texture to the dish I got the idea of baking some potatoes, scooping out the potato flesh so that the empty jacket would make a ‘dish’ for the mince, and then mash the potato and add that back on top. So that’s what I did, and it was bloody amazing.
Before I share the recipe (barely even a recipe!) with you, this is how I made my shepherd’s pie filling, and I fully intend to use the same recipe in future as it was simply delicious, but of course feel free to use your favourite veggies or a favourite method. I used a quarter of the mixture for my shepherd’s pie jackets and the rest freezes very well.
500g lamb mince, 1tsp oil, 2 onions, 3 carrots, 1 swede, 1 tin tomatoes, 1 lamb stock cube, 1tsp lazy garlic, 2 bay leaves
Heat the oil in a pan and add the chopped onions and mince, breaking up the mince and stirring it around until it has all turned brown. Add the tin of tomatoes and then fill the empty tin of water and add that to the pan as well.
Add the diced carrots, diced swede, garlic, lamb stock cube and bay leaves. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 45 minutes until the liquid has reduced and the vegetables are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Shepherd’s pie jackets – serves 2
2 large potatoes (around 200-250g each), knob of butter, splash of milk, 1/4 of the above shepherd’s pie filling, salt and pepper
Prick the potatoes and bake them in an oven, directly on the shelf, for around 1-1.5 hours at 190 degrees. They are baked when a knife will pierce the whole potato.
Take the potatoes out of the oven but don’t turn the oven off.
Halve the potatoes and scoop out the flesh into a bowl, doing your best not to break the skin of the potato.
Spoon the lamb mixture into the jacket potato skin, piling the mixture high.
Mash the potato innards with some butter and milk, and add seasoning to taste.
Add the mashed potato to the top of the lamb. There won’t be enough to completely cover the lamb, but top the meat as best you can. Then use the fork to roughen the top of the potato so it has lots of bits sticking up which will brown in the oven.
Bake in the oven for 25 minutes until the top of the potato is brown and crispy and the filling is piping hot.
Serve with peas or other vegetables, and spend the entire meal marvelling about how incredible it tastes.