What is a picture of Shepherd’s Pie doing on a post entitled “Meals on Wheels – I Love the Grub?” Well, I’ve been volunteering at Meals on Wheels for the past six months and Shepherd’s Pie is often served on the MOW menu- food that is tasty, gives you an ‘all-in-one’ meal with veggies and meat, and, of course, is easy on the teeth.
When volunteering, we meet at the MOW headquarters in Glenelg, South Australia and pick up the hot meals, all packed in warming containers, double-counting our meals to make sure we haven’t forgotten anyone. Then we’re off to deliver around 15 meals to people (mostly elderly) who find it difficult to shop and cook for themselves. We normally don’t have enough time to stop and chat with our customers, however once in awhile we hear their stories that are sometimes moving and sometimes funny. My favourite story is the one told by a woman who was once stopped for routine breath-testing. When she blew into the ‘breathalyser,’ her false teeth flew out of her mouth onto the floor. (She tested negative, of course!)
The one thing that strikes me is how good the food smells as we make our deliveries. The aroma from the meals, packed in the back of our station wagon, travels forward towards the driver’s seat and makes me yearn to have a taste. However, my delivery partner must know what’s on my mind; as I give him a knowing look, he says, “Don’t even think about it!”
Meals on Wheels started in Britain during WW II, when meals were delivered to returning soldiers whose homes had been destroyed during the war. In South Australia, Doris Taylor founded MOW in 1953, the first MOW to be incorporated in Australia.
So, in honor of Meals on Wheels, here is my recipe for Shepherd’s Pie. To make the meat more flavorful, I use a combination of beef and lamb mince, but you could use all beef if you wish. I’ve added two egg yolks to the whipped potatoes to give them a more solid consistency.
- 500 g minced beef
- 500 g minced lamb
- ½ onion- diced
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tomatoes- diced
- 190 ml (3/4 cup) beef stock
- Splash of red wine
- 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- Salt/pepper to taste
- For the Potato Topping
- 4 large potatoes, cooked
- 190 ml (3/4 cup) milk
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 Tbsp butter
- salt/pepper to taste
- Pre-heat oven to 180 C or 360 F.
- Brown the beef and lamb in olive oil; remove from pan and let drain on a paper towel.
- 'Sweat' the chopped onion and garlic in oil until translucent in color. Drain any excess fat and then add back the meat to the fry pan.
- Add the tomato paste to the pan, along with the diced tomatoes, beef stock, red wine, Worcestershire sauce and seasoning. Let simmer for at least 10 minutes.
- For the potato topping, peel the potatoes, slice roughly into cubes and cook in boiling salted-water until cooked through. Drain the water.
- Add the milk, butter, egg yolks and seasonings to the potatoes and then beat together all ingredients with an electric beater until smooth.
- Place the meat mixture in a large casserole dish or Dutch oven and then spread the potato mixture on top, using a spatula or knife edge.
- Place a cover on the casserole and bake in the oven for 20 - 30 minutes. Remove the cover during the last 5 minutes to brown the potato topping.