I think that it has been well established that I am not a planner. So, when The Beloved and I decided that lamb would be in order for St. Patrick's Day, I didn't really expect that we would actually consume it on St. Patrick's Day. Rather, I thought about making it on St. Patrick's Day, made it on Wednesday and then ate it on Thursday. Then, we had to freeze a whole bunch of it because we went out of town. And that is why Sunday Suppers is on Monday this week: we were in the mountains of north Georgia, enjoying a High Time at our favorite bed and breakfast, Cedar House Inn & Yurts, an eco-friendly, ovo/lacto vegetarian menu Keen Place to Stay. You can follow them on Twitter, if you want. Very cool people. The Beloved and I eat meat, but we really support what Fred and Mary Beth are doing to reduce/reuse/recycle and in general minimize their carbon footprint while running a great B&B.
At any rate, back to the Lamby Goodness. We had always envisioned a sort of shepherd's pie type deal, and this was my take on it. Next time I make it, I'll probably do it differently, but if you're interested, this is how it went down this particular time.
Lamby Goodness Shepherd\'s Pie
- a TJ\s boneless marinated leg of lamb (that's what they had)
- 2 TBSP olive oil
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 1 minced shallot
- 3 ribs celery, chopped
- some Italian seasoning (I didn't have any Irish seasoning lying about. Sorry).
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups beef stock that I had previously used to braise some tri-tip for chili. It had been in the freezer for a week or two
- 1/3 bottle cheap red wine (I used Two Buck Chuck from TJ's, purchased expressly for this purpose)
- cornstarch slurry (made with water)
- 4 Russet baking potatoes
- lots of butter
- half and half and some milk (because I felt guilty about using straight half and half)
First, I browned the meat in some olive oil.
Then, I sauteed the onion, celery and shallot with a bit of salt and pepper and Italian seasoning.
I threw the lamb back in, along with the wine and the stock.
I covered the whole deal with foil and braised in the oven at 275 degrees for about 2-2 1/2 hours.
And this is what it looked like after braising. It smelled Wonderful.
See--easy! Hardly any work at all. I wanted to thicken it up, so I added the cornstarch slurry (probably a total of 3 tablespoons of cornstarch dissolved in some water. I let it boil to cook off the raw starch taste. Look how thick and lovely:
I tasted and adjusted the seasonings. I think it needed a bit more pepper. Then, it was on to the potatoes. I peeled mine, cut them up, boiled them in salted water until tender and then drained them. I let them sit, covered for a few minutes to dry out and then mashed them with salt and pepper.
Then, I mashed them again with the Very Lot of butter I put in. Last, I added my half and half (and then milk when even I couldn't take it anymore) and mashed them some more. Here's what they looked like when they were done:
Then, everything went in the casserole dish. First, the lamby goodness:
And then, the potatoes. I just dropped them on top by big old spoonfuls.
I refrigerated the guy at this point (after letting him cool on the counter for awhile). The next day, I let him sit out for about half an hour and then threw him in the oven at 350F until his center was at 160F. Then, I turned on the broiler for a few minutes. This is what I ended up with:
Now, I could have served the lamb stew over the potatoes the day before, or I could have served them over noodles. Or, I could have smeared a thick layer of potatoes in the bottom of the casserole, browned it and then added the stew. There were lots of ways I could have gone: adding more veggies, more spices, piping the potatoes. But, I didn't do any of those things. You can, if you want--like most everything I make and share, I want you to focus on the technique, not the "recipe." This was a braise that I thickened and topped with mashed potatoes. Take the idea and run with it. By the way, this meal was Seriously Good. Seriously.
PS In the future, if I run out of time, I'll refrigerate the stew alone and mash the potatoes the next day, top the lamb and then bake the whole thing. I'm really not a fan of refrigerated-then-reheated mashed potatoes. I don't know what I was thinking--it all comes from lack of planning. It was still good, though. Really.
PPS Glad to be back!