Sunday, August 12, 2012

Experimental Cookery 2012: Decadent Rosemary & Worcestershire Sauce Shepherd's Pie

Shepherd's Pie has something of a chequered past with me. Years ago, we used to be given store-bought Shepherd's Pie from the freezer aisle, and it was awful. Worse even than fish; this was the meal that I truly hated.

Time went by, and we stopped getting those frozen foods. And, eventually, Dad took up cooking Shepherd's Pie from a Coleman's sachet mix. Which was very nice - one of my favourites.

Well, except for one thing: technically, it wasn't Shepherd's Pie - he used beef mince, which made it Cottage Pie - close, but not the same.

The upshot of all of that being that this is actually the first time I've had a real, home-cooked Shepherd's Pie.

The recipe for this one came from Lorraine Pascale's book "Home Cooking Made Easy", which is one of the more approachable cookery books that I have. The only criticism that I have of this book, and it's a 'flaw' shared by most of them, is that there's a whole lot of work hidden in the list of ingredients, most of which require some preparation before use. (One of the major points in favour of Jamie's "Ministry of Food", in fact, is that he breaks this prep-work out into a separate section.)

Still, that's a quibble. The actual recipe itself was neatly laid out and pretty clear, apart from one part where we have to add an ingredient twice, at two separate stages. (I resolved this by adding half each time; I'm inclined to think it probably doesn't matter much.)

The meal took just over an hour to put together, from the start to getting it into the oven. This was slightly unfortunate, as I'd estimated quite a bit more, so wasn't really ready to eat when the cook-time finished!

Still, I had time to ponder, gather, and put together a very experiemental salad to go with it.

So, how was it?

Well, I liked it. Lady Chocolat liked it. So I guess that's a win!

Basically, it was exactly as you might expect - the filling was suitably meaty, the potato was nice and smooth, and it was just a really satisfying meal. Her suggestion to put a little grated cheese on top also seemed to be a winning idea, so that's good too.

The salad wasn't so good, but since that was essentially "here's what we have in the house", that's maybe not surprising. Even so, if I had skipped the chilli I suspect it would have been a winner in its own right.

So, that's that. We now have three spare portions of Shepherd's Pie for the freezer, suitable for reheating and use at a later time. Huzzah!

(Perhaps ironically, this was inspired by a comment about Shepherd's Pie made by one of the Hairy Bikers, and yet although we have their "Perfect Pies" book, I went with Lorraine's version. Of course, that means that some day soon I'll have to try their Cottage Pie recipe from that book, and see how they stack up to one another... Oh, the hardships!)

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