This is a comforting hearty pie that is sure to bring warmth into your home during the cooler months. I like the make the filling and pastry the day before, simply assembling the pie and cooking it the next evening. Use store-bought puff pastry if you are short on time, or it can even be topped with mashed potatoes instead for a luxe Shepard’s pie. Sometimes I put peas in the filling too, or simply serve it with plenty on the side.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 3 hours
2tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1.5kg lamb shoulder, cut into 3cm pieces
3 French shallots, diced
2 carrots, diced
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2tbsp tomato paste
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs of thyme
200ml stout or other dark beer
500ml chicken or vegetable stock
1tbsp hot English mustard
2 waxy potatoes, peeled and diced
2tsp plain flour mixed with 100ml water, to thicken (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste
250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
Pinch of sea salt
125g cold unsalted butter, cubed
1tbsp white vinegar
125-150ml iced water
Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based pot over a medium-high heat. Brown the lamb, working in batches, until golden on all sides. Remove the lamb from the pot and set aside.
Reduce the heat to low and cook the shallots, carrots and garlic until softened and beginning to colour, around 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid them burning.
Add in the tomato paste, bay leaves and thyme and return the lamb to the pot. Stir so that everything is well coated.
Increase the heat to high and add the beer, followed by the passata, stock and mustard. Cover and bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to allow a gentle simmer. Have the lid half covering the pot and and cook until the meat is tender, adding water as it cooks if the lamb appears to be drying out.
Add the potatoes and cook for a further 15-20 minutes or until they are just cooked.
The mixture will thicken upon cooling, should be fairly thick at this point. If there is still a lot of liquid, the filling can be thickened with a little flour mixed with water. Add this to the filling and cook for a few minutes to thicken. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, for the pastry dough, mix the salt into the flour and toss the butter in the flour to coat, either in a large bowl or on a work surface.
Rub the butter into the flour until you have pea-like sizes of butter. Some larger pieces are good too.
Sprinkle in the vinegar then add enough water to the flour mixture for it to come together into a shaggy dough. You may not need all of the water, so just add a little at a time.
Form into a flat disc, wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour until chill.
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Bring the dough out from the fridge 10 minutes before you are ready to use it, then generously flour your work bench and roll out to circle 3.5mm in thickness and large enough to cover your pie dish generously. I’ve used a 28cm x 3.5cm round dish, but a smaller and deeper one will work just as well.
Remove the bay leaves and thyme from the pie filling and transfer to your chosen pie dish.
Drape the pastry over the pie filling. Allow for 2cm of overhanging pastry, then cut any excess pastry away.
Crimp the overhanging pastry into the pie dish edges to seal.
Brush the pastry with the egg wash and cut a small opening in the centre of the pie to allow for steam to escape during the cooking.
Cook the pie for 35-40 minters or until the pastry is golden and the filling is bubbling.