Friday, 5 December 2014

Scottish Shepherd's Pie with Diced Scotch Lamb and Clapshot

Scottish themed shepherd's pie with carrots and sprouts

Shepherd's pie in modern times is almost always made using minced (ground) lamb. When the concept first evolved, however - in the form of what was called cottage pie - it was made using the cheaper, lower quality offcuts of meat, pretty much in a similar way to Scottish stovies. Also in the present day, shepherd's pies are often bought ready made rather than prepared at home from scratch, frequently designed simply to be stuck in a microwave, ready in a jiffy and a ping.

In this recipe, I've tried to take shepherd's pie back to its proud, simplest, earliest origins. I can't help but feel that sometimes in the present day the ingredients list for what should be a very simple creation reads like a weekly shopping list! I have at the same time tried to give it a very Scottish twist. I have used diced Scotch lamb for the filling and made the classic Scottish creation that is clapshot to top the pie, rather than simply using mashed potato.  I've prepared this dish as an individual pie for one but you could of course increase the quantites proportionately and make a larger, more traditional sized pie. The suggested serving vegetables can also be varied according to taste or preference.

Scotch lamb, potatoes and turnip for shepherd's pie

Ingredients (Serves One)

1/2 pound (225g) diced Scotch lamb
1/4 medium Swede turnip (rutabaga)
2 medium baking potatoes
1/2 small white onion, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt and black pepper
3/4 pint approximately fresh chicken or lamb stock
1 ounce (25g) butter for clapshot plus extra for sprouts
White pepper
2 teaspoons freshly chopped chives
1 medium carrot
6 or 7 Brussels sprouts

Starting to brown seasoned lamb with onions


Pour the oil in to a medium saucepan and add the lamb and sliced onion. Season with black pepper.

Browned lamb and softened onion

Set the heat to medium and stir with a wooden spoon to evenly brown the lamb and soften the onion. This should only take a couple of minutes.

Chicken stock is added to sealed lamb

Pour the stock in to the pot and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover and simmer as gently as possible until the lamb is tender. This took forty-five minutes in this instance. When done, turn off the heat and leave to cool.

Potato and turnip ready for boiling

Peel and roughly chop the turnip and potatoes. Add to a pot of cold salted water and bring to a simmer until softened. Twenty to twenty-five minutes should do it.

Drained potato and turnip is allowed to steam for a few minutes

When you drain the potatoes and turnip, it is vital that you return them to the pot and leave them to steam off for four or five minutes before you attempt to mash them. If you don't do this, there will be too much moisture in your clapshot and it will be soggy.

Butter, white pepper and chives for clapshot

Add the butter to the turnip and potato and season with white pepper. Mash with a hand masher.

Mashing potato and turnip with butter and white pepper

The easiest way to chop the chives is with scissors. This should be done at the very last minute.

Chopped chives are added to mashed potato and turnip

Add the chives to the mash and stir with a spoon. Cover the pot and set aside to cool.

Lamb and onion shepherd's pie filling

When the lamb is cool, put your oven on to preheat to 190C/375F/Gas mark 5. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the lamb and onion to a suitable dish before spooning in a little of the stock only.

Clapshot is carefully spooned on to cooled lamb

I used a teaspoon to add the clapshot to the top of the lamb in clumps. In a bigger serving, you could use a dessert spoon. What this does is help you avoid mixing the clapshot in to the lamb.

Scottish shepherd's pie ready for the oven

Sit the dish on a baking tray and heat in the oven for twenty minutes.

Starting to cook carrots

The carrot was scrubbed, topped and tailed and sliced in to discs, which were added to cold, salted water. The water was brought to a simmer for about ten minutes until the carrots start to soften.

Sprouts are added to boiling water

The sprouts go in to boiling salted water for six to eight minutes, depending upon their size.

Butter is added to drained sprouts

There are any number of flavourants I often add both to carrots and sprouts but in this instance, I drained them and added a little butter only.

Orkney Dark Island Ale was served with Scottish shepherd's pie

Use oven gloves to lift the shepherd's pie to a serving plate and spoon the vegetables and sprouts alongside. I enjoyed this with a bottle of Orkney Dark Island Ale.

Tucking in to Scottish shepherd's pie

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