Lamb and eggplant shepherd’s pie for St. Patrick’s Day

Shepherd’s pie is a classic Irish pub dish. The best ones are a braise of meat and vegetables covered with a layer of mashed potatoes and baked until a crust forms and the gravy bubbles. For this one, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I’ve used lamb and added cubes of eggplant because lamb and eggplant go so well together. I couldn’t resist adding some dried ancho and chipotle, the Santa Fe influence, for a bit of spice. Invite friends to share some good craic and perhaps an ale or two.

 Lamb and Eggplant Shepherd’s Pie

1 eggplant, peeled and diced to ¾ “
2 TBS coarse Kosher Salt 2 LB red skinned potatoes, peeled and quartered 
3 TBS butter
¼ cup half and half
½ cup cheddar cheese, grated
3 TBS olive oil
2 lbs. lamb, from leg or shoulder, trimmed and cut to 1” cubes
1 medium onion, diced to ¼ “
½ cup carrots, diced to ¼ “
½ cup celery, diced to ¼ “
6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 cups beef stock
1 TBS cried oregano
1 TBS fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 TBS ancho chile, ground
½ tsp chipotle chile, ground
Black pepper

Sprinkle eggplant with kosher salt and spread on a baking sheet. Toss and let stand for an hour. Rinse and pat dry.

Lamb and eggplant braise ready for potato topping, photo Steve Collins

Lamb and eggplant braise ready to be topped with potatoes, photo/Steve Collins

Put potatoes in enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook until fork tender (approx. 12 minutes). Remove to a heated bowl. Mash the potatoes and add butter in one tablespoon increments. Stir in enough half and half to make a smooth puree. Add cheddar and blend well. Keep warm.

Preheat the oven to 350˚. Rinse and drain eggplant. Heat a sauté pan over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil. Cook until soft (approximately 12 minutes.)  Dredge lamb in flour and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook the lamb until all sides are browned. Remove from pan and keep warm. Add another tablespoon olive oil along with garlic, onion, celery and carrot to the sauté pan; cook until vegetables are soft. Add three tablespoons flour, mixing well to make a roux. Add two cups beef stock and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Add rosemary, oregano, cumin, coriander, ancho and chipotle and mix through. Add the lamb and eggplant to the sauce and simmer for two minutes. Pour into a nine-inch by thirteen-inch baking dish. Evenly cover with mashed potatoes. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it rest while you set the table.

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