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Food
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Shepherd's Pie

3 pounds lamb meat for stewing, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (we used Elysian Fields leg of lamb)
1/4 cup sunflower seed oil

For the braising liquid:
1 cup diced yellow Spanish onions
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/3 cup diced celery
1 /8 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup tomato puree
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 spice sachet (see below)
1 1/2 quarts brown stock
Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste

For the spice sachet:
12 cracked black peppercorns
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 small bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme
3 cloves garlic, crushed

For the garniture:
2 cups quartered button mushrooms, blanched
1 medium tomato, blanched, peeled, seeded and diced
3 cups whipped potatoes

To brown the lamb: Heat a heavy roasting pan over high heat. Start with 2 tablespoons oil in the pan and replenish as needed. Sear the lamb in small batches to a deep mahogany color. Transfer the meat to another container. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

To braise the lamb: Reduce heat under the pan, add onions, carrots and celery, and sweat these ingredients until the onions are golden brown. Sprinkle the vegetables with flour, stirring to coat well, and continue to stir while cooking out the raw flour for about 6 minutes. Add tomato puree, increase heat to medium, and allow the puree to brown lightly. Stir constantly to avoid scorching. Return lamb to the pan with vegetables, add wine, and deglaze the pan. Reduce until almost dry. Make a spice sachet by combining the peppercorns, rosemary, bay leaf, thyme and garlic in a square of double cheesecloth, and secure with twine. Add the brown stock and the sachet to the pot, and heat to a simmer. Cover, place the stew in the oven, and braise for 2 hours. Remove the lid and cook for an additional 1/2 hour. The lamb should be fork tender.

To make the sauce: Using a slotted spoon, remove all pieces of lamb to another container. Strain the sauce into a medium saucepan and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Discard spice sachet. Transfer cooked carrots, celery and onions to a food processor or food mill. Puree, then return the puree to the sauce and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To complete the dish: Raise the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Combine the lamb, sauce, mushrooms and diced tomato. Portion the stew into six 10-ounce, oven-proof, deep-dish casseroles, filing each casserole to 3/4 capacity. Fit a pastry bag with large fluted tip, place the whipped potatoes in the bag, and pipe them in a decorative pattern over the surface of the lamb stew. The potatoes should completely encrust the stew. Place the casseroles on a half sheet pan and bake for 15 minutes or until the potatoes begin to turn golden brown. Remove and serve immediately.

Sunday, August 27, 2000



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