Feature

Recipe of the week: Shepherd’s pie: An American favorite with Old World roots

Chef Brendan Collins at Waterloo & City in Los Angeles makes a colorful variation of an old favorite.

Pastry-crusted meat pies can be traced back to medieval England—“and probably earlier,” said Lucy Lean in Made in America (Welcome Books). But the history of shepherd’s pie is complicated. Though the first known recipe by that name was published in late-19th-century America, it’s likely that the dish’s signature mashed-potato crust originated in England a century before.

At the Los Angeles restaurant Waterloo & City, chef Brendan Collins makes a shepherd’s pie topped with mashed parsnips and potatoes, mixed with horseradish for “a nice unexpected bite.” He then adorns each pie with “glistening buttered baby vegetables.” Whatever the origins of shepherd’s pie, it has probably “never looked so pretty or tasted so good.”

Recipe of the weekShepherd’s pie with buttered baby vegetables1 tbsp olive oil1 large onion, chopped1 leek, white part only, chopped4 celery stalks, chopped2 medium carrots, chopped1¼ pounds ground lamb shoulder¼ cup all-purpose flour1 can (14-oz) San Marzano plum tomatoes2 tbsp tomato puree1¼ cups lamb or beef stock1 bay leaf1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary½ tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves1 tsp Worcestershire sauce, or to tasteSalt and freshly ground pepper1½ lbs potatoes, peeled and chopped½ lb parsnips, peeled and chopped9 tbsp unsalted butter¼ cup milk2 tsp creamed horseradish¾ cup bread crumbs¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In large sauté pan, heat oil over medium heat and add onion, leek, celery, and carrots. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes.

Add lamb and brown, about 8 minutes. Add flour to make a roux, and cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add canned tomatoes, tomato puree, beef stock, bay leaf, rosemary, and thyme. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with Worcestershire sauce, plus salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, make topping. Boil potatoes and parsnips in water until soft. Drain and mash with butter and milk. Stir in horseradish, and season with salt and pepper.

Spoon meat mixture into an ovenproof dish. Top with mashed potatoes. Sprinkle bread crumbs and cheese on top. Bake pie until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Top with buttered vegetables. Serves 4 to 6.

Buttered baby vegetablesBlanch in separate pots until al dente: 6 baby carrots, 6 baby zucchini, 6 cauliflower florets, 3 baby turnips (peeled and quartered), ¼ cup English peas, and 8 tbsp unsalted butter. Drain each vegetable, refresh in ice water, and drain again.

In small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and add ½ cup water to make an emulsion. Reheat vegetables in emulsion, add salt and pepper to taste, and drain. Arrange on top of pie.

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