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Deluxe shepherd's pie.

Deluxe shepherd's pie. Photo: Marina Oliphant

A hearty dinner that is light on effort yet full of flavour.

Ingredients

  • 3 lamb shanks
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt flakes
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1.5 lt beef stock, unsalted
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1.5kg waxy potatoes, peeled and chopped into large even chunks
  • 250g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 220ml warm milk
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 3 brown onions, finely diced
  • 2 carrots, finely diced
  • 3 stalks celery, finely diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 2 star anise
  • 15g dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in boiling water, chop the mushrooms and keep the liquid
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 250 ml red wine
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
  • 1/2 bunch mint
  • 400g lamb mince
  • 3 tsp cornflour
  • 140g frozen peas

Method

1. Preheat a fan-forced oven to 160C or 180C conventional.

2. In a casserole dish, brown the shanks in a little oil until golden. Season lightly and cover with the stock. Add a bay leaf and place in the oven for three or 3½ hours until the meat is tender and falling off the bone. Allow the shanks to cool in the liquid.

3. While the shanks braise, make the mash. Cover the potatoes with warm water in a large pot and cook on a low heat for 30 minutes - the water should remain just under a simmer, which helps set the starch.

4. Drain the potatoes. Bring fresh water to the boil with three teaspoons of salt. Add the potatoes and cook at a simmer until they are just falling apart. Drain well and quickly dry any excess water.

5. Mash the potato (a food mill or potato ricer is best, but never blend, which will split the starch) on to the cubed butter in a bowl, stir through until amalgamated. Add the warm milk in batches until you have a smooth, creamy consistency - you might not need all the milk; just don't make it too wet. Season with salt, stir through the mustard and set aside.

6. In a wide-based heavy pot, add a little oil and cook the onion, carrot, celery, garlic and star anise for 10 minutes, stirring. Add chopped porcini and tomato paste and cook for a further five minutes. Add the wine and reduce to a syrup. Remove the star anise and discard. Set the vegetables aside.

7. Pull the shank meat from the bone and roughly dice. Set aside.

8. Add the porcini liquid to the shank liquid and reduce by three-quarters over a high heat. Reduce to the lowest heat, and throw in the rosemary and mint to infuse for 15 minutes. Discard the herbs.

9. In a large frying pan over high heat, bring some oil to smoking point and fry the mince until well browned. Add to the shank meat.

10. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees fan-forced or 200 degrees conventional.

11. Take a little of the reduced stock, add the cornflour and stir to combine. Add back to the rest of the stock and stir to thicken. Pour this into the vegetables and wine, mix well, then add the meat and the peas and season well. Mix gently, trying not to break up the shank meat - the mix should be luscious but not too wet.

12. Tip the filling into a high-sided ovenproof dish. Cover evenly with the mash (it is best if the pie sits below the top of the dish to stop it leaking). Make a ridged pattern in the mash with a fork and bake for 20-30 minutes or until bubbling.

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