I don’t like the texture of mashed potatoes, so I’ve never had Shepherd’s Pie. The few times Alex has had it (in restaurants), I’ve tried a bite of the mashed potatoes, just to make sure that I wouldn’t like it. I wanted to be sure to make a recipe with my leftover lamb, and not just eat it as leftovers. I wanted something like a pot pie, so I searched for Shepherd’s Pie since it traditionally takes lamb. I spent a long time searching, for two reasons. First, I wanted a recipe that didn’t have mashed potatoes on the top. Yes, that makes it non-traditional, but I hoped to find the goodness of the filling with an alternate top. Second, I didn’t want clashing flavors, so I looked around for a recipe that took rosemary and/or thyme, seasonings that I had already used. There are numerous variations on this recipe, and I didn’t really know what to choose.
I did not find a variation that called for a pie crust, as I had hoped. I decided biscuits would be the next best thing, but that wasn’t an option, either. It’s a shame, since a biscuit top would look a little more like a mashed potato top than a pie crust. I eventually settled on Alton Brown’s Shepherd’s Pie recipe, which had good reviews and took both rosemary and thyme. Since I’d have to use a separate biscuit recipe to top the filling, I decided to look for a potato biscuit recipe to see if that made it more like mashed potatoes. I thought “potato biscuits” would be easier to find – after all, there’s such a thing as potato bread and potato rolls! This was a tough search too, though – most results were for sweet potato biscuits, and searching for “mashed potato biscuits” helped only a little. I eventually found two recipes that called for real mashed potatoes and not instant potato flakes, and I settled on this one. (The other was from bhg.com, if you were curious.)
I trimmed all the fat from the lamb and cubed it. Since it was cooked, I added the flour as soon as I added the lamb to the onions and carrots. I had extra vegetables left from making stock last weekend (onion, carrots, celery), which I tossed in. I forgot to add peas, which was disappointing. The lamb was already seasoned with thyme and rosemary so I didn’t add any originally, but I forgot to taste it to adjust the seasoning as I had planned to. I added a few boiled potatoes pieces (which I didn’t need for the biscuits) on top of the filling.
I boiled potatoes to mash for the biscuits, and just added a tiny bit of cream to them. I added an extra tablespoon or two of milk to make the biscuit dough stretch better since I wasn’t rolling it out. I pieced the top together by hand, since dolloping the dough on the filling wasn’t really going to work properly.
I baked 25 minutes as the Shepherd’s Pie recipe instructed, and this was enough to get the biscuits done. I didn’t get the biscuit around the edges as well as I should have, but it baked pretty well overall.
This turned out pretty well, I think. I’m glad that I used the leftover lamb for this. I don’t know how Shepherd’s Pie is supposed to taste, so I don’t have anything to compare it to. Alex enjoyed it. I think that it was well seasoned even though I forgot to adjust the levels of rosemary and thyme. The potato biscuits tasted faintly of potato, but it was hard to tell exactly how they tasted because they were covered with liquid from the Shepherd’s Pie. Alex could tell that they were different, and I think that they were pretty good. The biscuits definitely had a light, tender texture. I wonder how they would be as regular biscuits, so I will probably try them again at some point in the future.
Alex thought that this didn’t taste like lamb with every bite; I thought the lamb flavor got stronger the more I ate it. I might try this again. I think that it’s a good recipe. As with a lot of lamb recipes, I’m just not sure it’s a recipe that I really want to eat very often.