I'm taking a little longer with this post because, as I was doing my research for this delectable dish, I encountered many recipes and an ongoing debate on this. The topic? Should it be Shepard's Pie? Or Cottage Pie? Or even Shepards Pie or Shepard's Pie?
But since we are more concerned with getting the recipe, I'll jump straight into it and leave the research for another day.
Here's a summary video on it:
Russet Potatoes - About 10
Minced Beef - 800g
Frozen Mixed Vegetables - A Handful (Optional). You could also use peas, or carrots alone, or pre-boiled diced carrots.
2 Large Yellow Onions
About 6 large cloves of Garlic - Chopped (Your call here, on the quantity. Some people LOVE garlic. Some.... Not so much.)
Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce : A few Dashes. I'll leave the exact amount to you. Not everyone likes the taste. Some prefer a subtle taste of it, some, like my family, prefer a strong Lea & Perrins Sauce flavour in our Pies.
Beef Broth - I like to use Campbell's. The flavour is rich and that gives any sauce or stew its robust beef flavour.
Cornstarch - A few Tablesspoons
Oyster Sauce - About 1 TB (Yes, you read it right...) I put Oyster Sauce into most western recipes too. This helps round off the flavours and gives my sauces a more whole and full bordied taste. You don't have to add much. Most times, I add anywhere from 1 Tsp to 1 TB If you don't have Oyster Sauce, use about 1tsp of sugar.
Red Wine or Red Cooking Wine
About 4 Bay Leaves
Spices - Rosemary or Thyme is good. This is optional. I find that the younger family members like it with less herbs and spices. Also, if you are using Spaghetti Sauce instead of Tomato Puree, you don't need to add spices as most store bought bottled sauces already contain spices. Bay Leaves are a must though.
Shredded Cheddar Cheese (Optional)
Pie dish was about 7" x 10"
A few TB of Tomato Spaghetti sauce or 1 TB Tomato Puree. Some recipes do not have this ingredient. It all depends on what version you grew up with. I find that most restaurants use tomato puree.
Peel and cut into giant chunks and boil in salted water. I find that when I do this, as opposed to boiling them with their skin on, the potatoes are much softer and flavourful as they will absorb the salt from the water.
When a stick can be easily inserted, your potatoes are done.
It's best to mash them while they are hot.
Add butter. I added a 1 cm thick slice. You can add a little more if you love the rich taste of butter. No hard and fast rules here.
Add Thick Cream or Milk
Add a little Sour Cream if you happen to have some on hand. It gives a potatoes a subtle tangy taste. Yogurt will do the trick too.
Season ahead for more flavourful meat:
A dash or two of Lea & Perrins.
About 1 TB Oyster Sauce
Salt & Black Pepper
1 TB Cornstarch
NOW, WE START COOKING:
Fry Onions till translucent and fragrant.
Add Garlic and fry till fragrant too.
Add seasoned Beef.
For a more robust flavour, don't keep stirring. Let the beef brown a little bit.
Add Beef Broth (enough to cover meat). Beef doesn't need to be fully cooked when you add the broth. You are going to simmer for a bit longer.
Add about 3TB Red Wine
Add 3TB Tomato based Spaghetti Sauce
Let simmer for about 10 minutes.
Time to thicken the Broth gravy - Now is the time to taste the beef filling and add more salt, pepper, Lea & Perrin, Wine to suit your taste.
Add the room temperature vegetables. Simmer to heat through.
Add about 3 TB Cornstarch to tap water. Stir to dissolve.
Add gradually to Beef filling. Stir for a bit after each addition to see if the gravy is thick enough. Always give your constarch mixture a good stir as the cornstarch tends to sit at the bottom of the bowl really quickly.
Once the Beef filling is the right taste and consistency, turn the fire off.
TIME TO ASSEMBLE:
If your mash Potato has cooled down and hardened up slightly, add a little milk and stir through.
** The best way to avoid this is to time it such that the potato are boiled and ready for mashing just when the filling is done.
Fill the baking tray with filling. I like to use my Pyrex glass dish for this because you can see the delicious filling, giving the dish the WOW Factor.
If you are going to pipe the mashed potato, you can fill it up to about 3/4 full. This is because, you can pipe the potatoes upwards.
If you are not and only going to spoon the potatoes over the filling, then it would be best to fill it to half full. Once done, use a fork and do a crisscross pattern on the potatoes so that it can brown nicely.
At this point, you can top it with some Cheddar Cheese if you like. Melted Cheese is always a hit with the kids. I personally find the taste of the cheese overpowering and that takes away some in terms of the authenticity of the dish.
Place in pre-heated oven (High) and keep a close watch. Take out when top is brown.
And that's it ! Spoon it out and watch everyone wolf it down !