We must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie.

Despite the last gasp of Summer we are enjoying at the moment, when I came across this delicious Lamb pie recipe in my most recent copy of WI Life magazine ( amongst the adverts for “relaxation trousers” and watercolour painting) I couldn’t resist trying it out, despite its unseasonal nature.

Added bonus – finally using my birthday present (my birthday was in February), a shiny shiny red and beautiful iron casserole dish. Look – bask in it’s beautiful shiny redness!

  dish

The recipe itself is fairly simple, although it is best done on a lazy Sunday afternoon, when you have 5 hours available to slow roast your meat. The recipe in the magazine called for 4 lamb shanks, but I used a shoulder joint instead, as it was what they had in the supermarket I was in at the time… It also asks for puy lentils, but I could only find green lentils. How different can a lentil be, anyway? I also made some changes to the mash on the top, they didn’t mention adding any butter or milk to make it creamy, and as nobody likes dry mash (apart from an old Uni friend who used to eat Smash straight from the packet, but that’s probably best glossed over), I added a generous dollop of butter, and then cheese on top. Because everybody loves cheese.

pie 

It went down a treat – as you can tell by the picture, we couldn’t wait for my phone to recharge to take a photo before digging in. And by the time we ate (post cinema trip to The Way Way Back – go see it!), it was quite late, so I apologise for the poor quality photo.

Ingredients

Lamb shoulder joint (about 1kg worth) (I imagine any cut would work – the original recipe was 4 lamb shanks)

Generous slug of olive oil

Half a bottle of red wine

6 garlic cloves (no need to peel or chop)

Handful of dried mixed herbs

50ml (2 fl oz) stock

Dash of hot chilli sauce

3 bay leaves

3 tsp plain flour

100ml (3 1/2 fl oz) water

2 x 400g cans of lentils, drained

8 shallots, finely chopped

1.25kg (2 1/2 lb) potatoes, peeled and chopped

Large knob of butter

Pinch of ground nutmeg

Salt & pepper

Grated cheese (for topping)

1. Preheat the oven to 140C/275F/Gas Mark 1

2. Put the lamb and all the ingredients up to and including the bay leaves in a lidded casserole dish and cook in the preheated oven for 4-5 hours, or until the meat is tender and falling off the bone.

3. Get the sunday papers, and pour yourself a glass of wine. Why not, it’s already opened!

4. Once cooked, set aside the meat to cool, then strain the sauce through a sieve into a small saucepan.

5. When the meat is cool enough to handle, strip the meat from the bones and discard any fat.

6. Boil the potatoes until tender, then drain and mash with the butter, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.

7. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.

8. Bring the strained lamb sauce to a hard boil for about 2 mines, then reduce to a gentle simmer.

9. Mix the flour and water together to a paste, and then whisk into the sauce – trying to get rid of any lumps.

10. Bring back to the boil, and season to taste.

11. Place the lentils in the bottom of the casserole dish, followed by the shallots, then the meat. Add enough sauce to cover the meat, then top with the mashed potato, spreading to the edge of the dish to prevent sauce from leaking. Sprinkle with the grated cheese, then cook in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown on top.

12. Set aside for 10 minutes before serving (if you can wait that long).

The recipe made about 5-6 large portions, and we served it up with a big pile of peas, as all good pies should be. We’ve still got about a half a bottle of red to use up (I know, I know, there’s no such thing as half a bottle of booze), and so I’m thinking of making this Drunken Spaghetti, from the Domestic Sluttery website. I’ll let you know how it turns out!

Today’s quote from David Mamet’s Boston Marriage.

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