There’s nothing like a classic Shepherds pie recipe to cure the early Autumnal blues. Rich meaty stew, buttery potato, the perfect combination. In the Herb and Flower Cookbook I play with the formula and do a base of ham and cheese and chive sauce (yep, as good as it sounds) but this Saturday lunchtime, listening to archived episodes of Desert Island Discs and hunkering on the sofa, felt like it called for classic beef (I do know that this is really a Cottage Pie, and that Shepherds Pie is lamb, but we’re all friends here).
And so, for this Shepherds pie recipe I’ve played with the topping instead, creating a garlicky, cheesy butternut mash. It’s lighter than potato, and with the fragrant rosemary there’s a real Autumnal tang to it. It tastes of Harvest suppers, comfort food, and calls for large glasses of red wine. Enjoy.
- 2 medium butternut squash, around 1200g pre-prepared weight
- Olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves
- 2 rosemary sprigs
- 1 red onion
- Olive oil
- 500g minced beef
- 3 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp. plain flour
- 3 celery sticks, chopped
- 300ml beef stock
- 100g Cheddar cheese, grated
Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4.
Wash the outside of the squashes and slice them in half from top to bottom, scooping out and discarding the seeds along with the stalks at the top and the hard bit at the bottom. You don’t need to peel the squashes, just chop them into rough cubes and toss them into a roasting dish with a good glug of olive oil.
Peel the garlic cloves and add them to the dish with the leaves from the rosemary and a large pinch of salt. Roast in the oven for 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat another glug of oil in a large pan, roughly chop the red onion and set it over a medium heat for a few minutes until it starts to sizzle. Add the minced beef and chopped carrots and stir well, leaving to brown for around 10 minutes, stirring occasi0nally.
Add the flour to the meat mixture and stir until you can no longer see it, then throw in the celery and the stock. Let it bubble away for 15-20 minutes, adding more liquid if it needs it.
Once the squash is done, remove from the oven and tip the grated cheese directly into the roasting dish. Mash together. Pour the meat into a large oven proof dish, spread the butternut mash over the top and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until browning on top.
Serve immediately, with peas or your favourite greens on the side, and maybe a dollop of horseradish sauce.