Of all the food I’m nostalgic about, shepherd’s pie sits right up the top of the pile. From the raft of smells that would fill our kitchen for an entire Sunday afternoon, to hassling mum for the leftover mash potato, few meals came with the same sense of anticipation or satisfaction.
This recipe is a play on the original. Instead of mince, it uses slow-braised lamb shanks for the filling, and I’ve also used ras el hanout – that incredible spice blend that takes slow-braised lamb to dizzying heights, making your kitchen smell amazing in the process. That exotic spice blend also ties it nicely to Atlas’ equally delicious red blend, ‘The Spaniard’. Make sure you have a few bottles on standby.
– Serves 4 –
80 ml extra-virgin olive oil
3 lamb shanks (about 350 g each)
2 brown onions, finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
5 garlic cloves, crushed
2 rosemary sprigs
2 thyme sprigs
2 tbsp. ras el hanout
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 cup red wine
700 g passata
750 g starchy potatoes (Yukon gold or russets are best), peeled and cut into 3-cm chunks
100 ml full-cream milk
50 g butter
Pour yourself a glass of 2015 Atlas ‘The Spaniard’.
Heat half the oil in a heavy casserole pot over high heat and quickly seal the shanks. Remove and set aside.
In the same pot, heat the remaining oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, rosemary and thyme and gently fry until softened. Add the ras el hanout, tomato paste and wine, stir well and cook for 2 minutes. Return the shanks to the pot along with the passata and 1 cup of water, then season well with salt, cover with a tight-fitting lid and place on the bottom shelf of the oven for 2 hours.
After 2 hours, remove the shanks and shred the meat. Add the meat back to the pot, and continue to cook uncovered for another hour until the mix is quite thick.
Add the potato to a saucepan of boiling salted water and cook for about 20 minutes until a fork can pierce the potato without resistance. Drain and return the potato to the saucepan over gentle heat to evaporate any excess water.
While the potato is cooking, gently heat the milk and butter in a saucepan until the butter has melted. Add the milk and butter mixture to the cooked potato and mash well until there are no obvious lumps, then season well with salt.
To assemble the pie, add the lamb shank filling to a large pie dish. Spoon the mash over the filling, distributing it evenly to make a ‘lid’ – the mash will be quite sticky, so using a second spoon to scrape it off the first makes this process easier. Use the back of the spoon to help spread the potato evenly, ensuring there are no gaps.
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The 2015 Atlas ‘The Spaniard’ is available in our latest feature pack, 12 UNDER 20 : VOL 5.