Aoife’s Shepherd’s Pie
Using a small sharp knife, cut the onion in half and peel off the skin, then put each half on a chopping board and cut into slices, keeping the root intact. Then make 2 horizontal cuts one above the other and finally, chop down across the width of the onion. Peel the carrots and cut into dice with the celery. Peel the garlic and use a garlic crusher or grate on the fine side of a box grater.
Heat a frying pan over a medium heat. Add half of the butter and once it is melted. Tip in the onion, carrots, celery and garlic, stirring to combine. Cook for about 5 minutes until softened, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.
Add the steak mince to the pan and cook for another 3-4 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally and breaking up any lumps with a wooden spoon. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Then stir in the tomato puree and allow to cook out for a further minute. Dissolve the chicken stock cube in the boiling water and pour into the mince mixture with the Worcestershire sauce, stirring to combine. Bring to a simmer and then cook for 10 minutes until thickened, stirring occasionally. Stir in the frozen peas and place in a small ovenproof dish. Set aside to allow a skin to form. This will make it easier to spread the potatoes in an even layer on top.
Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / gas mark 4. Peel the potatoes and cut into dice. Place in a saucepan half filled with water over a medium heat and add a pinch of salt, if using. Cook for 10-12 minutes or until tender. To check piece one with the tip of a sharp knife and you should feel no resistance. Tip into a bowl and mash with a potato masher until smooth. Season with plenty of freshly ground black pepper, then beat in the rest of the butter with the milk. Spoon the mash on top of the mince, starting with dollops around the edges and finishing with the middle. Spread around with a table knife until you have a nice even layer and then bake for 30-40 minutes until bubbling and golden brown.
About 5 minutes before the pie is due to come out of the oven, put a saucepan fitted with a petal steamer and some waterover a medium heat. Add the sugar snap peas and cook for 1-2 minutes until just tender. Drain and arrange on plates with the Shepherd’s pie to serve.
This recipe can be made up to 3 days in advance and kept covered with clingfilm in the fridge. It can also be frozen for up to 1 month. The recipe can also be scaled up so you could make a double batch and then freeze individual portions in suitable containers. Defrost on the bottom shelf of the fridge before reheating in the oven or microwave once until piping hot.