Tuesday, February 14

Shredded Mutton & Puy Lentil Shepherd's Pie

It is really cold at the moment and I am craving warming comfort food. I had some mutton shoulder in the freezer but not really enough to make anything with. Rather than walk to the butchers in the freezing bloody cold to buy more, I decided to bolster this lack of meat with lentils. This wasn't a random act of the desperate, I have in the past made a vegetarian shepherd pie purely with pulses ('shepherd's puy' anyone....ha!). If you have a few quid in your pocket, I recommend buying a slow cooker to get you through the winter. Bung it on in the morning and you come home to a steaming pot of something after work. It will give you the power to effortlessly render many cheap cuts of meat into something amazing. Don't just think stews - you can do curries; casseroles; pie fillings; pot roasts; rice puddings etc. Ask your mum or your gran....they will defo have one in the cupboard gathering dust. Feeds 5 to 6:

Mutton shoulder on the bone - 750g
1 onion - finely chopped
1 large carrot - roughly chopped
2 stick of celery - finely chopped
1 leek - washed and roughly chopped
Woody herds such as rosemary, thyme and bay - a few sprigs of each
Worcestershire sauce - 1 tbsp
Puy lentils - 200g
Frozen peas - 2 handfuls
Mashed potato - 1kg
Cheddar cheese - 100g, grated
Stock or water - 500ml (a cube is ok)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Trim and excess fat and skin from the mutton and season heavily. Heat a large frying pan and really brown the mutton all over, you won't need any oil - hack it into two or three pieces if really large. Transfer the mutton to a casserole dish or slow cooker. Now fry the onion, celery, leek and carrot until coloured and starting to soften. Transfer this to the casserole dish. Tie the woody herbs with a piece of string and add to the pot. Drain any excess oil from the frying pan and deglaze with the stock and Worcestershire sauce. Add the liquid to the casserole dish, cover and set your slow cooker to low or place in an oven set to 130c. Braise for 8 hours add the lentils to the pot 40 mins before and the peas 10 mins before the end of the cooking time.

Remove the mutton and herbs from the pot. Separate the mutton from the bones and fat - it should be 'fall apart' tender - discard the fat, bones and herbs. Shred the meat and return to the pot with the vegetables and lentils. Taste and correct the seasoning.

Transfer the mutton to an oven proof serving dish, top with hot buttery mash and cheese then grill until golden brown. I served mine with some steamed cabbage but really there is plenty of veg in the pie to serve it alone as a one pot wonder.

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