Winter makes us all want to eat comfort food – and there aren’t many dishes as easy, warm and filling as the humble shepherd’s pie.
Fluffy mash on top of stewed vegetables, meat and gravy is the perfect dinner after a long, freezing day.
And you may be thinking there’s not much that could go wrong with a shepherd’s pie.
But there are some surprising mistakes being made by Brits which mean your pie isn’t as mouthwateringly delicious as it could be.
The Daily Star spoke to top chefs to find out the common mistakes we’re all making and their tips for taking the food to another level.
Your family will want this dish every night if you take note.
What's your secret to delicious shepherd's pie? Let us know in the comments below…
Biggest mistakes when making shepherd’s pie:
Irini Tzortzoglou, Master Chef winner and author of Under The Olive Tree (recipes from my Greek kitchen), said: “The biggest mistake is cooking the mince all in one go and watching the flavour seep out into a pool of liquid.
“It is important to brown the mince to seal in the flavour, so cook the lamb in batches in very hot oil.”
Zoe Simons, Waitrose Innovation Chef at Waitrose, added: “There is nothing worse than running out of potato half way through topping your pie, so use a piping bag to load it on top.
“Additionally, if you are going to put peas in, wait until you're about to put the mixture into the dish, this will keep the colour nice and vibrant.”
Top tips for the best shepherd’s pie ever:
Grate your onion
Irini commented: “I use onion which I grate as my mother always did because I want its flavour without the texture.”
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Leave the skin on your potatoes
“Roast your potato in their skins first,” said Zoe. “This means no peeling and you get a lovely roasted potato flavour."
She added: “Once they have been roasted in the oven push them through a sieve leaving you with the skins in the sieve and the fluffy mash in a sauce pan underneath.”
Add dripping to the mash
Zoe said: “Use a mixture of dripping and butter for your mash which will give it a really great flavour.”
Don’t use chopped tomatoes
Irini added: “I always use tomato paste as opposed to fresh or tinned tomatoes, for that Greek sunshine feel, sundried tomato taste.”
Add extra flavour to your gravy
“A stick of cinnamon and a couple of bay leaves (as in the classic Greek dish of moussaka) add a lot of aroma to the mince and nutmeg to the mash,” said Irini.
“My herb choice tends to be rosemary and some times dried oregano.”
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Zoe added: “Try adding roasted bone marrow into your sauce.
“This will give it richness and depth.”
Give your meat time
Zoe explained: “Time is so important, let your sauce reduce and if you can make it the day before even better.
“The flavour will mature if you leave it in the fridge overnight.”
Quick flavour wins
Iceland’s Head Chef, David Lennox recommended the following tips for quick flavour wins…
He said: “Mint sauce is a must in a shepherd’s pie for that classic lamb and mint combo, add to the filling while cooking.
“Plus, an easy way to thicken mince and gravy is to mix a little flour and oil together and add that into the simmering mince for a quick, easy and fuss free gravy.”
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