* This post is part of the Royal Selangor Jellyriffic Competition where ten bloggers from around the world compete by posting recipes each day for 30 days in the month of October 2011 to raise awareness and support for breast cancer. *
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If there was a dish that I did not like when I was a kid, it would be Shepherd’s pie. I can’t really say why I didn’t like it though.
Perhaps it was a baked tray of lumpy mince with some carrots and mashed potato all piled in my plate. Maybe it’s the stuff at boarding schools across Great Britain, that kids love to hate.
Or just maybe I have never had a good Shepherd’s pie until recent years. Done and presented well, I think this humble pie can become the show-stopper at your next dinner party
Day 24: Main – Shepherd’s pie with blow-torch mashed potatoes
You can either make ordinary mash potatoes or you can do it like the French do – pile on the cream, butter, full cream milk and be as decadent as you want.
We have chosen the mid-way point to be healthy without sacrificing on flavours. So, we have cut down on the butter, used skim milk and ditched the cream. But what we have added is the smoky charred aromas from a heavy-handed blow torch.
We are certain these aromas combined with a classic beef mince bolognaise sauce will get your juices flowing.
This recipe is adapted from our Spaghetti Bolognaise recipe which has been a winter favourite of our for many years.
1 bottle of passata / pasta sauce
1 can of peeled tomatoes
2 fresh ripened tomatoes
1 large onion
1 bunch continental parsley
1 kg of mixed beef, veal and pork mince (depending on your ratio preference)
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoon dried herbs
1 tablespoon butter
Grated reggiano parmesan cheese
4 large potatoes
One cup skim milk
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
Essential equipment: Gas-operated blow torch
1. Peel and boil potatoes until soft. Let cool and then cut into smaller pieces.
2. In a large bowl, add the potatoes, milk, 1 tablespoon butter, 2 – 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and salt to taste.
3. Use hand-held food processor and process until it becomes a smooth puree.
1. Diced carrots finely and sliced mushrooms and tomatoes.
2. Add EVOO to cooking pot and sautee diced onion gently, adding salt and freshly cracked black pepper immediately to draw out the flavours of the onions.
3. Then add the carrots to sautee with the diced onions.
4. Stir carrots and diced onions to one side of the pot.
5. Turn up the heat and add the minced meat and sear and seal the meat on all sides. For this particular spag bol, I have used 70% beef / veal and 30% pork mince. I have also tried 50% each of beef and pork mince and the result was superb – tender morsels of chunky meat with a delectable sauce. Once brown on all sides, break up mince and mix with carrots and diced onions.
Tip 1: Using a mixture of mince is essential in making your spag bol more flavoursome and tender than using beef mince alone
Tip 2: Resist breaking up the mince so that it can sear to a nice golden brown on all sides to add colour and texture.
6. Add a 600ml bottle of passata to fresh and canned tomatoes.
7. When the sauce is simmering, stir in 2 generous tablespoon of dried mixed herbs and a splash of good red wine. (By this, I mean wine that you would want to drink rather than “wine for cooking”).
Tip 3: Fresh herbs such as basil, oregano and thyme are great for spag bol. But I find dried herbs to be no less intense and flavoursome if cooking a sauce as opposed to using fresh herbs for say, a fresh salad.
8. When carrots are soft, add the mushrooms as they don’t need much cooking. Stir in the mushroom and the sauce should simmer for another 10 minutes before serving.
9. Let the meat sauce cool until it is lukewarm, then spoon sauce into the Royal Selangor jelly mould that is lined with baking paper on the inside until it is filled to the brim.
10. Cup the sauce onto the middle of serving plate and pipe in mashed potatoes around the side.
11. Blow torch the mashed potatoes just before serving until they are slightly charred and blackened on the outside and serve immediately.
This proportion will make up to ten Royal Selangor jelly moulds as per our presentation
This is one of the tastiest rendition of a Shepherd’s pie that we have tasted because the charred aromas from the mash adds a new dimension to this dish.
It is definitely a dish that we would like do for a dinner party because it can be served ala carte rather than from a large communal tray.
The blow torch would be an excuse to add a little theatre to your dinner party and impress your dinner guests. But your reason for blow torching is that it simply works to add more flavour and nobody would be arguing with you.
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Win an Olympus VG-110 camera
To encourage readers to support the cause for breast cancer awareness, we will give away an Olympus VG-110 camera to one lucky reader.
All you have to do over the next thirty days is to provide your comments, feedback, suggestions or any recipes and you will be in the running to receive this camera. This prize is open to any and all readers.
If you enjoy our daily posts throughout October 2011, do consider helping the cause for breast cancer by participating in any or all the the ways mentioned above.
We wish you good health and happy cooking!
Chopinand & Mysaucepan