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Lamb Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

Lamb Shepherd's Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

Lamb Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

I think January is my least favourite month, it’s the only month with nothing fun to look forward to.  The high from the holiday season is over as we all get back into our daily grind.  The days are still short, with gloomy clouds and rare sunny days.  Over the years I’ve noticed a significant change in my mood in January, and I think I have mild seasonal affective disorder, or winter depression.  Heading south for a week of sun is the ultimate cure, but if that’s not possible, I retreat to my kitchen and cook up a storm.  One of my favourite comfort dishes to make is this Lamb Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping.

This twist on a traditional Shepherd’s pie is my go-to recipe for a cozy winter dinner party. Filled with delightfully rich, savory flavours that are guaranteed to impress.  This dish can be made a few days in advance, making a weeknight dinner a breeze! Adding Worcestershire sauce and gherkins to this pie was a tip that I picked up from Gordon Ramsay. I absolutely loved the addition of the Worchestershire sauce to the pie.  The sauce adds more depth to the flavour of the meat, a bit of a sweet fermented kick.  Using gherkins in the pie also really tickled my taste buds, their sweet crunchiness cutting through the fatty richness of the lamb.  Over the years this recipe has morphed into the ultimate Shepherd’s pie, and is packed full of some of my favourite ingredients.

Lamb Shepherd's Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

Lamb Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

I adore lamb, and am always looking for ways to use lamb instead of beef.  Besides being so tasty, lamb is also a great source of iron, zinc and B vitamins.  I also combined sweet potato with yellow potatoes for a healthier pie topping.  Sweet potato is an excellent source of Vitamin A, potassium and dietary fibers – something we all need after all that holiday eating!  I also made the pie topping with almond milk, as my boyfriend is lactose intolerant, but if you can find cashew milk that’s even better because it’s a bit creamier.   Finally, I added some liquid smoke to give an element of smokiness to the meat, but this is optional.

Lamb Shepherd's Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

Lamb Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

My dad is of British descent and fully appreciates a hearty meat and potatoes meal.  He loved my take on Shepherd’s pie (but I guess your parents are supposed to say that, no matter what age!).  Also, I’m sure that I inherited my love of pickled foods from him.  The gherkins cut through the rich mince while the generous topping of potatoes is light, fluffy and slightly sweet.  This Lamb Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping is a spin on a classic British pub dish with some healthy substitutions.  If you’re feeling blue this January, call up some family or friends for an impromptu dinner party.  This hearty Shepherd’s pie is a wonderful way to warm up the soul on a cold January evening.

Lamb Shepherd's Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

Prep Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Yield: 6 large portions

Calories per serving: 387

Lamb Shepherd's Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

Ingredients

    For the filling:
  • 900g lean ground lamb
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 x large carrots, peeled finely diced
  • 3 x garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 ¼ cup red cooking wine
  • 1 cup low sodium beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 x sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 6 x sweet gherkins, finely chopped + extra for serving
  • sea salt and ground black pepper
  • liquid smoke (optional)
  • For the potato topping
  • 2 x medium yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 x medium sweet potatoes
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup unsweetened almond milk or cashew milk
  • 2 x large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 6 x sprigs of parsley, finely chopped

Instructions

  1. Boil the potatoes in salted water for 15-20 minutes until a knife can easily pass through the potato. Drain well, and return potatoes to the hot pot over low heat to dry out briefly.
  2. Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat.
  3. Sauté lamb until lightly browned. Using a slotted spoon, transfer meat to a bowl lined with paper towel.
  4. Lower heat to medium and add 1-2 teaspoons olive oil as needed to the lamb fat. When the oil is hot, add the onion, carrot and garlic and cook until the vegetables soften and start to brown.
  5. Add the flour and tomato puree, stirring for another minute.
  6. Working quickly, add red wine and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to remove the browned bits. Simmer until reduced by half.
  7. Pour in the beef stock and bring back to a simmer.
  8. Return the meat to the pan and add the Worcestershire sauce, thyme and rosemary. Season with salt, pepper and a few drops of liquid smoke. Turn down the heat to low and loosely cover the pan. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring every once and awhile until the sauce has thickened.
  9. In the meantime, preheat oven to 350C.
  10. Bake sweet potatoes in the microwave on the potato setting until soft.
  11. Press yellow potatoes through a ricer and into a large bowl. Using oven mitts and a large spoon, remove sweet potatoes and their juices from their skins and add to the bowl.
  12. Mix in butter, almond milk and egg yolks. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  13. Add the chopped gherkins to the meat mixture and spoon into a 2.3L oven proof dish.
  14. Using a large spoon, top with sweet potato mixture by carefully spooning in large dollops over meat, slowly covering the entire surface. Sprinkle some paprika over top.
  15. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the potatoes start to brown and the sauce begins to bubble around the sides.
  16. Serve with parsley and extra gherkins.

Notes

Can be made in 1-2 days in advance.

http://iseehungrypeople.net/2017/01/09/lamb-sweet-potato-shepherds-pie/

Lamb Shepherd's Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

Lamb Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

Do you suffer from SAD?  What comfort food makes you happy?  I hope this recipe for Lamb Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping lifts your spirits this winter!

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

I have been making this Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce every holiday season, for many years now.  I like to make this before or after Christmas and keep it stocked in the fridge for a quick lunch or dinner.  This deliciously rich and meaty pasta keeps me going throughout the busy holiday season.  All the baking and cooking burns a lot of calories!  (Or, at least I’d like to thinks so…).  This dish is definitely an indulgence, which is why I only make it for special occasions.

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

I like to use rigatoni for this recipe because this type of pasta soaks up a lot of sauce, so you can really pile on the bolognese!  Packed with five types of meat, this recipe is dedicated to the carnivore lover.  Cooking the sweet Italian sausage in the rendered pancetta fat is simply divine, and is the heavenly base for this sauce.  Resist the urge to snack on all the crispy bits while cooking this recipe!  The sweetness from the balsamic, sausage, nutmeg and fennel helps to balance out the salty meats.  I really love adding balsamic vinegar to this dish, because the acidity adds another level of richness to the sauce.

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

I also like to the opportunity to use homemade ingredients when I make this recipe.  Earlier this year I canned tomatoes for the first time.  I love to use them in sauces and they taste so much better than store bought ones.  Fresh tomatoes are really the key to a tasty, light sauce.  I also started to make my own stock in my slow cooker after reading a lot about the health benefits of bone broth.  Making your own stock is so easy and I freeze them in 250 ml freezer containers for easy use.

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

When I need to refuel over the holidays, I rely on this protein packed pasta dish.  This Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce is sinfully delicious and is packed full of salty meats balanced with a bit of sweetness.  Another rich indulgence for the holiday season!

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

51

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 4 large servings

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

Ingredients

  • sea salt
  • 1 pound (500g) rigatoni
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 pound pancetta, diced
  • 2 sweet Italian sausages, links split open, casing removed
  • 1/3 pound ground pork
  • 1/3 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/3 pound ground veal
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • coarse black pepper
  • 2 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/2 a fennel bulb, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup beef stock*
  • 1 quart canned tomatoes*
  • 5 tablespoons (or half a 156ml can) tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 good balsamic vinegar*
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water to taste and add the pasta, cooking until al dente. Drain pasta and return to pot to keep warm. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil to prevent pasta from sticking together.
  2. While the pasta cooks, heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil.
  3. Add the pancetta to one half of the pan, and the sausage to the other. Break up the sausage with a wooden spoon and brown while the pancetta renders, then combine and toss together for another minute.
  4. Remove sausage and pancetta with a slotted spoon. Add the pork, beef and veal. Brown and break up the meat with a wooden spoon. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Add the carrots, fennel, and garlic and cook another 5 to 6 minutes until soft.
  6. Add sausage and pancetta back to the pan. Deglaze the pan with the wine, scraping up all the good bits with a wooden spoon.
  7. Stir in the stock, then the tomatoes, breaking up the tomatoes into smaller pieces.
  8. Add tomato paste, oregano, thyme and red pepper flakes to taste.
  9. Simmer over medium low heat until the sauce has thickened, 10-15 minutes.
  10. Finish with balsamic vinegar, and check seasoning. Simmer for a few minutes more.
  11. Divide pasta into four large bowls and generously top with sauce. Mix the sauce with the pasta to coat evenly.
  12. Top with freshly ground pepper, parsely and parmesan cheese.

Notes

*I use my own homemade beef broth

*or one 28 ounce can of whole or diced tomatoes. I can my own tomatoes so I use the whole quart. I like my sauce on the chunky side so I find the whole tomatoes break down in the sauce and there's no need to dice them, but with your preference!

*the thicker (more expensive) balsamic vinegar, the richer your sauce will be!

http://iseehungrypeople.net/2016/12/12/rigatoni-balsamic-bolognese-sauce/

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

What is your favourite pasta sauce to serve over rigatoni?  Did you like the addition of balsamic vinegar in this bolognese sauce?

French Canadian Fennel Tourtiere

Over the years tourtière has become a New Year’s Eve tradition.  A nice break from turkey, a spiced meat pie on a chilly winter’s night is the ultimate comfort food.  I decided to change it up this year and include my new fave vegetable: fennel.  Fennel and pork are a popular Italian combination, that I thought my half Italian boyfriend would enjoy.  The licorice flavour pairs nicely with the pork, and adds to the festive seasoning of the filling.  Flaky, rich and hearty, this French Canadian Fennel Tourtière will keep you fed for days!

French Canadian Fennel Tourtiere

French Canadian Fennel Tourtiere

I have always been intimidated by crust, and I’ve tried many different recipes with mixed results. A few years ago I took a culinary course at George Brown College where I finally learned how to make the perfect crust.  This is a sure-fire recipe and the secret is to make sure your dough stays very cold.  What is great about this recipe is that the dough can be used almost immediately and doesn’t need to chill for an hour like most doughs.  I also read somewhere that using vodka instead of water makes for a crispier crust, and I swear by this trick now.

Originating from Canada, immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th century introduced this dish to Quebec and since then, has become a French Canadian Christmas or New Year’s Eve tradition.  The filling varies depending on the region.  For instance, the tourtières of the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean area and Eastern Quebec are made with potatoes and cubed pieces of meat, while in Montreal the pies are made with ground pork only, spiced with cloves and cinnamon and served with maple syrup, ketchup, chutneys or preserves.  In St. Boniface, Manitoba, similar herbs are used as well as celery salt, nutmeg and dry mustard and the pies are served with mustards and relishes, while an Acadian tourtière is made with pork and may also contain beef, chicken or hare.

French Canadian Fennel Tourtiere

French Canadian Fennel Tourtiere

My tourtière is influenced by both the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean and Montreal tourtières.  I like using ground pork and beef instead of cubes, and the mashed potatoes help to bind the filling (and I also love mashed potato).  Spicing the meat is essential for that festive aroma, and I like my meat pie more on the savory side so I prefer a combination of marjoram, thyme, sage, cloves and now, fennel.  Finally, I serve my tourtière with some homemade ketchup, gerkins or beet chutney to balance out the richness.  I’d love to try serving with some relishes and mustards, I think a maple mustard or a cranberry relish would be really tasty.

With this recipe you can either make two medium thick pies, or one thick pie.  I usually make one large pie, however the tourtière tradition is to make a whole lot to give away during the holidays.  So if you need a last minute gift, making the second meat pie is always an option!  Either way, your home will be filled with the wonderful aroma of fennel, cloves and sage.

French Canadian Fennel Tourtiere

French Canadian Fennel Tourtiere

French Canadian Fennel Tourtiere

51

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 2 hours

Yield: Makes two 9-inch (23-cm) meat pies or one thick 11-inch (27 cm) pie

French Canadian Fennel Tourtiere

Ingredients

    For the filling:
  • 6 peeled Yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 cup finely chopped fennel, including stems
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon dried fennel seeds
  • 1/4 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp ground sage
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten with 2 Tbsp water
  • For the crust:
  • 750 grams pastry flour
  • 500 grams shortening (chilled)
  • 250ml chilled vodka
  • 15 grams salt

Instructions

  1. Boil water in a large pot and add potatoes. Cook until soft, then push through a potato ricer*.
  2. In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Saute the fennel and garlic for 5 minutes or until softened.
  3. Crumble the ground pork and beef into the pan and cook until the meat is no longer pink.
  4. Add fennel seeds, marjoram, thyme, sage, cloves and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Stir in the wine and cover the pan. Lower the heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
  6. Combine flour and shortening in large bowl and cut with pastry cutter until reduced to irregular pea sized crumbs.
  7. Dissolve salt in vodka and add to flour mixture all at once. Mix just enough to combine without overmixing.
  8. Transfer dough to floured surface and shape into four discs (or just two if making only one pie). Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in fridge until ready for use*.
  9. Preheat the oven to 375F degrees. Grease either 2 x 9-inch pie pans or 1 x 11-inch pie pan.
  10. Once the filling has finished simmering, stir in the mashed potatoes and parsley. Set aside to cool.
  11. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface into four (or two) thin rounds.
  12. Fill each pie chell with 1/2 of the cooled meat mixture and top with the remaining pastry, sealing and fluting the edges with your fingers to form a ruffled border.
  13. Cut small steam vents in the tops of the pies using the tip of a sharp knife and brush the pies with the egg yolk glaze
  14. Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown. Cool for 20 minutes before cutting into wedges to serve.

Notes

*a ricer is a utensil that pushes the potato through small holes, resulting in fluffly mashed potatoes. A potato masher can be used as well but can result in over mashing, making the potato too gluey.

*if making only one pie, use the extra dough to make a few mini meat pies or to add additional crust decor

*always keep your dough cold, this will "firm-up" the shortening which in turn makes the dough easier to handle

http://iseehungrypeople.net/2016/11/28/french-canadian-fennel-tourtiere/

Do you have a New Year’s Eve tradition?  What would you add to your French Canadian Fennel Tourtiere filling?

French Canadian Fennel Tourtiere

French Canadian Fennel Tourtiere

French Canadian Fennel Tourtiere

French Canadian Fennel Tourtiere