The Shepherds Pie was my signature dish as a meat eater. It is a simple, student staple that is difficult to do badly, but it is just as difficult to do amazingly well. As with any dish, it comes down to the quality of your ingredients and the timing of your cooking. When you have more than one element (eurgh, I hate that term), it is important to make each element as well as you can.
I used to make the mashed potatoes that sit on top with parmesan and egg yolks. Both ingredients have obviously been taken from me as a vegan, so I had to work at an alternative. And after trying everything from veg stock to vegan sour cream, I realised the best combination is just quality potatoes, garlic and some vegan butter. Seasoning it well Is the difference maker.
As for the protein then I am using some Gardein Ground beefless mince. Gardein products are still new to Australia and I am more than a little obsessed! They really are that good. But if you can’t get Gardein where you are from, I recommend Linda McCartney, but any vegan mince will do. If you don’t want to go the fake meat route, then you can use lentils, it works just as well, or a couple of cans of kidney beans, or even a selection of diced vegetables. I do that all the time too using eggplant (aubergine), zucchini (courgette), capsicum (peppers), carrots and onions.
Man I wish there was a universal word for each vegetable! Eggplant?????
Anyway, have a go and let me know what you think. I have been on bit of a Britih food kick recently. It must be because of my trip back home to Blighty being less than a month away now. Woo hoo…
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 brown onion, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 1 red pepper (capsicum), diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 400g pack of Gardein beefless ground mince (or any equivalent)
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 – 2 glasses of wine (2 will be better but that means 1 less to drink!)
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- fresh rosemary and thyme (or 1 tablespoon each dried)
- salt and pepper
- 4 large desiree potatoes about 1kg, peeled and quartered
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons vegan butter
- salt and pepper
- Optional: handful of vegan grated cheese
- Start by filling your largest saucepan with cold water and heating on a stove over a high heat to bring to a boil. Also, put a large sauté pan or casserole dish on the stove over a medium heat. Preheat an oven to 200 degrees Celsius
- Add the oil and veg, minus the garlic to the sauté pan, turn the heat to low and fry for about 20 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the garlic, turn the heat back to medium and fry for a further 2 minutes
- Add the vegan mince and stir everything. Cook for a minute or two and then make a well in the middle of the pan. Add the tomato paste and stir a little bit. Then, gradually fold in the mince/veg to coat everything in the paste
- Add the herbs and wine and let all the flavour that is stuck to the bottom of the pan, burn off into the sauce
- Add the stock, turn the heat to high, bring to a boil and then lower and simmer
- Chuck the potatoes in the boiling water, along with a couple of cloves of peeled garlic for 20 minutes. Stir the mince combo regularly too. If you have some wine left, pull yourself a nice big glass and think of James Bond. Or Liverpool FC. Or Paul weller. Or anything English! Think of me!
- After 20 minutes, drain the potatoes and garlic. If you have a potato ricer, use that or if not, use some elbow grease and mash them back in the pan you used to boil them. When it is well and truly mashed, add the butter and stir everything. I use a spatula for this but anything will do. Season with salt and pepper, stir and test the seasoning
- Once the mince has thickened and there is hardly and watery sauce, put it in a 20 x 20 baking dish and using a spatula or spoon, press down until the top is flat
- Carefully spoon on the mashed potato and this is important, using a FORK, push to the sides and use the fork to fluff up the potato.
- If you are using vegan cheese, sprinkle some on now and put in the oven. Cook for 20 – 30 minutes until the top has gone a bit crispy and the cheese has melted
- Serve with some brocolli another big glass of wine and put on an episode of Only Fools and Horses or Geordie Shore if your girlfriend makes you watch that instead
Oasis “Definitely Maybe”
As mentioned, this dish really makes me think of home and growing up. I had it a lot as a kid. You know what else I did as a kid. Listened to Oasis. A LOT.
One of the most important albums and debuts ever made. EVERYONE should own this album. From the ferocious ‘Rock n Roll Star’ kicking things off to the chilled ‘Married with Children’ to close, this is an amazing album with every tune being amazing. Well. Except for maybe ‘Digsys Dinner’. He has lasagne in that anyway, not shepherds pie.
If you don’t like Oasis, I am afraid I have to inform you that you are a wrongun..
Listen – but do yourself a favour and buy it on vinyl!!