What’s cooking today: Mutton Shepherd’s Pie with parsnip mash
The shepherd in this story tended his charges until they grew fat and had lived long lives. Never mind lamb, a Shepherd’s Pie enters a new realm when the meat in it is mutton, rich and flavoursome.
Parsnips make glorious mash; I prefer it to mashed potato in fact. On a visit to Cape Town I was surprised to see large and misshapen parsnips at a Saturday farmer’s market at Willowbridge mall, so I nabbed the lot and brought them all the way home to Cradock in a cooler bag. Rather early for parsnips, which are near impossible to find at the best of times. Grab them when you can.
Topping a cottage or shepherd’s pie with parsnip mash turns the ordinary into the very moreish. There was a time, though, when all such “pies”, whether containing beef or lamb/mutton, were called cottage pie. You can read more about that here.
I’ve never seen packs of mutton mince in a supermarket, and am not sure I’ve even seen lamb mince. But I asked my butcher if he could mince me some mutton, which he did, and from now on that is the way I intend to go whenever I hanker for a shepherd’s pie.
700 g mutton mince
2 Tbsp olive oil
8 shallots, oven roasted with thyme, dark muscovado sugar and garlic
1 can whole peeled tomatoes
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
100 ml lamb or beef stock
2 Tbsp oregano
Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
Salt and black pepper to taste
4 to 6 large parsnips
2 Tbsp butter
100 g mascarpone
Salt and white pepper for the parsnip mash
Roast the shallots (peeled) with thyme sprigs, a sprinkling of dark muscovado sugar and a few whole garlic cloves at 180℃ for about 30 minutes.
Grease an ovenproof dish with butter. Steam the parsnips until tender and blitz them with a handheld blender or in a food processor. Season with salt and white pepper and beat in the butter and mascarpone.
Cook the mince in the olive oil, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon to avoid clumping, until browned. Chop the roasted shallots and stir them in. Add the whole peeled tomatoes and chop them up in the pot with a small, sharp knife. Add the Worcestershire sauce, stock and oregano, season with salt and pepper, stir well and let it simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring to avoid it catching.
Spoon it into the greased oven dish and pile the parsnip mash on top, spreading it out with the back of a spoon. Draw a fork across the top a few times in both directions. Dot with knobs of butter and grate Parmigiano Reggiano on top as generously as you like. Bake in the preheated 220℃ oven for about 30 minutes or until golden brown on top. DM/TGIFood
Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Champion 2021. His book, foodSTUFF, is available in the DM Shop. Buy it here.
Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks. Share your versions of his recipes with him on Instagram and he’ll see them and respond.