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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!

Turkey in 2 Weeks – Day 14: Istanbul

The next morning we hopped on a small plane and headed back to Istanbul.  Flights to Istanbul were short and cheap – and I just couldn’t handle another overnight bus!  I was also happy for the extra time in Istanbul as we had a lot of souvenir shopping to do.

We stayed at a different hotel this time, and unfortunately this place was the most disappointing one of the trip.  My review of the Flower Palace Hotel is up on Trip Advisor.  That said, the manager apologized and offered a discount the next time we booked there.

We spent the morning hitting up the markets – the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Market.  Shopping was a bit overwhelming at first, just a maze of every kind of item.  But I soon found my groove and got pretty good at haggling, making our way through both markets and ending up with bags filled with souvenirs: tea set, coffee pot, colourful small bowls, table runners, Turkish delights, tea, turmeric, saffron and even a Turkish lamp!  We go ripped off on the saffron – the cheap spice we bought comes from the same plant but isn’t the Iranian saffron which actually cost the same as back home.  The other scam we sort of avoided was with the apple tea.  We had been drinking this apple tea across the country – a gesture of hospitality whenever you enter a store.  This apple tea is pretty much Kool Aid-like sugar water.  We successfully dodged the shopkeepers who tried to push the sugar water tea on us and bought apple tea bags instead.  But when we tried the tea back at home they were pretty tasteless, and I wish I had bought the Turkish tea for everyone instead.

In the afternoon we saw a whirling dervish show – no photos allowed unfortunately.  The show was so beautiful and relaxing, like being in a trance.  I loved the Turkish folk music and the dancers were mesmerizing to watch, swirling endlessly in a circle, their form held so still and meditative.  The dancers are Sufis and they have given up their worldly possessions to act as messengers to connect God with the material world.

Grape leaves at Pasazade, Istanbul, Turkey

Grape leaves at Pasazade, Istanbul, Turkey

We had dinner at a romantic restaurant near our hotel called Pasazade.  We split some fresh grape leaves and I had lamb with smoked eggplant – smoked eggplant really is to die for!

Lamb with smoked eggplant at Pasazade, Istanbul, Turkey

Lamb with smoked eggplant at Pasazade, Istanbul, Turkey

Pasazade, Istanbul, Turkey

Pasazade, Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

We wandered around the old town that evening admiring all the cute streets so full of life and lights.  We ended up in the main square where we picked up some baklava and ate it by the fountain in the park, admiring the Blue Mosque all lit up at night.

"Tower of Baklava" -  Istanbul, Turkey

“Tower of Baklava” – Istanbul, Turkey

Sultanahmet Park, Istanbul, Turkey

Sultanahmet Park, Istanbul, Turkey

I love how there are so many cats in Istanbul that there is a cat house in the park!

Sultanahmet Park, Istanbul, Turkey

Sultanahmet Park, Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Turkey in 2 Weeks – Day 12: Göreme

We left Antalya on an overnight bus, bracing ourselves for another long, hot ride.   The bus tried to drop us off before our ticketed destination – a warning I had read about – but luckily there were these two German girls on our bus who wouldn’t have any of it and forced the bus to drive to the proper stop.  Nine hours later, we arrived bright and early in Goreme, a little town in Cappadocia known as the “cave city”.  The town is built in and around high honey coloured rocks and cave formations that make up the Cappadocia landscape.   The lunar topography is right out of a sci-fi movie and is made out of volcanic ash moulded by millenia of rain and flowing rivers.

Goreme. Cappadocia, Turkey

Goreme. Cappadocia, Turkey

We stayed in the Oriental Cave hotel (review on Trip Advisor), a spacious, cavernous historical hotel with a lovely rooftop terrace, many oriental rugs and a very cute kitten named Susu.

Oriental Cave Hotel, Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey

Oriental Cave Hotel, Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey

"Me & Susu" Oriental Cave Hotel, Goreme, Turkey

“Me & Susu” Oriental Cave Hotel, Goreme, Turkey

Selime, Cappadocia, Turkey

Selime, Cappadocia, Turkey

The hotel manager was super nice and arranged a bus tour for us.  For 60TL we booked a full day tour with Insider Tours.  We had such an amazing guide – he was so passionate, knowledgeable and hospitable – and he would address the tour by saying “dear friends” – I’ll always remember him!

Selime, Cappadocia, Turkey

Selime, Cappadocia, Turkey

Our first stop was the cave town of Selime, once used by the Selcuks as a check tower and refuge.  We roamed around and explored the caves and saw how they had carved out various rooms and crevices for cooking, storing food and dining.

Selime, Cappadocia, Turkey

Selime, Cappadocia, Turkey

Most impressive were the domed churches, chapels and basilicas that were carved into the caves complete with columns and painted frescoes.

Selime, Cappadocia, Turkey

Selime, Cappadocia, Turkey

Selime, Cappadocia, Turkey

Selime, Cappadocia, Turkey

Selime, Cappadocia, Turkey

Selime, Cappadocia, Turkey

Ihlara Valley, Cappadocia, Turkey

Ihlara Valley, Cappadocia, Turkey

In the afternoon we hiked through the very pretty Ihlara Valley.  Once a retreat for Byzantine monks, we saw how they had carved churches into the cliffs that lined the valley.

Ihlara Valley, Cappadocia, Turkey

Ihlara Valley, Cappadocia, Turkey

Ihlara Valley, Cappadocia, Turkey

Ihlara Valley, Cappadocia, Turkey

We rested on some tree stumps by the river and took a break, welcoming the freshly squeezed orange juice to quench our thirst.

Ihlara Valley, Cappadocia, Turkey

Ihlara Valley, Cappadocia, Turkey

Ihlara Valley, Cappadocia, Turkey

Ihlara Valley, Cappadocia, Turkey

Ihlara Valley, Cappadocia, Turkey

Ihlara Valley, Cappadocia, Turkey

The hike ended by these little tea huts where we had some delicious lamb stew for lunch.  I love Turkish food so much!  I don’t think I’ve had the same meal twice throughout our entire trip.

Ihlara Valley, Cappadocia, Turkey

Ihlara Valley, Cappadocia, Turkey

Our last stop of the day was the Underground City, which was SO cool.  There are 7 levels of underground tunnels, but only a few accessible to the public.  The network of tunnels were carved out by the Byzantine Christians during the 6th and 7th centuries.  They acted as a refuge for the Christians from the Persian and Arab armies, and they would live in them for months at a time.  We had fun clamouring through all the winding tunnels, imagining what it must have been like to live down below.

Underground City, Cappadocia, Turkey

Underground City, Cappadocia, Turkey

There was even a graveyard in the Underground City (so creepy!) and I sat in an empty grave for the full experience.  We also passed through a baptism area where you had to circle through a tunnel seven times to cleanse yourself of the seven deadly sins.  I’m all good to go!

Graveyard in the Underground City, Goreme, Cappadocia

Graveyard in the Underground City, Goreme, Cappadocia

Uchisar, Cappadocia, Turkey

Uchisar, Cappadocia, Turkey

We passed through little town of Uchisar where we stopped at a precious rock & jewel factory.  I was more interested in the view then all the expensive stones.

Lamb shank, Koy Evi, Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey

Lamb shank, Koy Evi, Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey

That evening we had an absolutely amazing dinner – check out this leg of lamb!  The meat just fell off the bone and into my mouth.  I think we’ve consumed an entire lamb on our trip. Our delicious dinner was topped with a gorgeous view of Goreme at night.

Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey

Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey