Wintery Chills and Home Fires – Hot Stews Are a Must – But My Luxury Shepherds Pie is the Best

For some reason, about this time of year, the picture editor and I have a falling out. Last year it was about an image he published, that I didn’t think was at all flattering and didn’t’t look like me at all. In fact, it turnd out not to be me at all so I was right. Not that that stopped him sabotaging my blog with silly images.

This year I think he has lost the plot totally. When I said I wanted an image for a Hot Stew to warm us all up in winter, he sent me a picture of Jean Luc Picard in a jacuzzi. Goodness knows what will happen next.

Anyway, What I really wanted to say was that it’s all very well warming up by getting out there with a powerful chainsaw and cutting up logs, or pulling the trusty old logsplitter out of its winter hidey hole and making with the firewood, these things have to be done but what next? We can always curl up by a warm fire once the firewood is collected and we all know how cosy that can be but If you really want to keep warm and keep the home fires burning, I would say what you need is to heat up the inside first.

So, as the start of an occasional, irregular and haphazard series of recipes, I would like to share with you one of my winter warmers that could seriously kick Jack Frost in the out of the door. Not a hot stew this time (so there Pic Ed) but a very luxury Shepherds Pie. This hearty and creamy dish feeds 4 – 6 ish depending on your appetite.

You’ll need…



500g best lamb mince

1 large onion

2 small shallots

3 cloves garlic

Half a stick of celery

2 large carrots

A handful of mushrooms (mixed and wild if possible but chestnut will do)

Small bunch each of fresh oregano and flat leaf parsley

2 x teaspoon of dried herbs de provence

1 Tablespoon tomato pureé

1 Teaspoon smokey hot paprika

3 or four sun dried tomatoes

1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 Teaspoonful of soy sauce

1 Glass of red wine

1 Good glug of olive oil

2.5ml good stock pref beef but oddly, chicken will do

Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt

Mashed Topping

200g potatoes (King Edward or Desiree work well here)

2 very thick slices of butter (use your own judgement, mine will be very thick indeed )

2 Tablespoons double cream

150gm grated parmesan

2 medium sized leeks

100 grams grated cheddar

You’ll need a heavy bottomed pan. and a food processor



Blitz the onion, shallots, celery and garlic in the food processor till finely chopped (or chop by hand if you don’t have a FP) Then sauté them in the heavy bottomed pan, in the big of olive oil until soft. Strirt occasionally and try not to let them brown.

Meanwhile finely chop (or blitz) the carrots and add them to the softened sauté mixture. Season with a little salt and pepper cook very gently for 5-10 minutes more.

While that is cooking, finely chop (or blitz again) the mushrooms, parsley, oregano, and sun-dried tomatoes. Then add to the pan with the Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, red wine and tomato puree, herbs de Provence and stock.  Bring to the boil then lower again and simmer for 15 mins. (Switch off and Leave to cool if potatoes are still cooking after this time)


Boil potatoes in salted water until cooked. Meanwhile finely chop the leeks and gently cook in one of the slices of butter.

Drain and carefully mash or use potato ricer, mixing the cream and one of the  large slices of butter in chunks to create a puree and then add the leeks and any melted butter. Mix in the parmesan.

Taste both meat mixture and potato mixture for seasoning (add even more butter to the potatoes rather than just more salt if necessary)

Spread the meat filling in a well buttered casserole type dish and spread the potato in top, using a fork to create texture. Top with the grated cheddar and a couple of turns of the pepper mill.

Cook in a pre-heated oven at 20° /gas mark 6/40° F for 20 mins. Then if needed, briefly under a hot grill to crisp the top.

Great served with savoy cabbage or green beans or broccoli or a combination all of them and a bottle of decent Red Rioja or Bordeaux (and yes Drew, you could have it with a good strong ale if you wished).

Now that will really warm you up!  In fact, even making it will warm you up. And no dodgy pictures. Hooray!

And that’s me for this week so…    see ya.  Holly.


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