Lamb & Eggplant Shepherd’s Pie
From Bon Appetit
This is not my usual, quick supper. It's the kind of thing you do on a day you'll be around. It's not difficult, just time consuming. The end result is well worth the effort though.
Prep time: 1 hour
Stove top cooking time: 2-2½ hours
Baking time: 45 minutes
1 large eggplant (1.5lb/680g), unpeeled & cut into ¾ -1” pieces
Coarse kosher or sea salt
Extra virgin olive oil (BA says 7 tbsp divided, but I just used a little at a time as I felt it needed through the recipe)
2lb/1kg boneless lamb cut into 1” cubes
All purpose flour (just enough to dredge the lamb)
2 large onions, chopped
1 cup dry white wine
1 tin (28oz/796ml) diced tomatoes in juice
3 cups beef broth
8 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp dried oregano
2.5 lb/1kg russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1” cubes
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled
¾ cup milk
1 ¼ cups (5-6 oz/140-170g) kasseri cheese (BA suggests Provolone as a substitute and it tasted delicious), coarsely grated
Sweet Paprika (smoked would be delicious too) to sprinkle over the potatoes before baking.
Preparing the filling: (about 30-40 minutes)
1. Place cut up eggplant on a large rimmed cookie sheet and sprinkle with coarse salt. Leave for about 1 hour, tossing occasionally. Rinse well and pat very dry.
2. Heat some olive oil in a large, heavy bottom large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the eggplant and sauté until tender, adding a little more oil if needed, but sparingly…remember that eggplant is like a sponge and will absorb everything you give it. (about 12-15 minutes). Transfer to a medium bowl.
3. Add more oil to the same pot and sear the lamb on all sides in batches. Over crowding will just give you boiled meat and the juices will escape, leaving dry lamb. Remove lamb as it’s browned and set aside in a large bowl. (about 15 minutes – the meat should be well browned and crusty on the outside, but still quite raw inside).
4. In the same pot (with all the lamb removed), add a little more oil and the onions. Toss, cover and lower the heat to medium-low until the onions are tender and translucent (about 10-15 minutes). The bottom of the pot should be very dark brown by this time, don’t worry. Add the wine, increase the heat to high and boil until the wine evaporates, scraping the bottom of the pan (about 5 minutes).
5. Add the tomatoes with their juice, the broth, garlic and oregano and bring to a boil. Add the lamb and any juices in the bowl. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 1 hour and then uncover and continue to simmer until the lamb is very tender and the gravy thickens (about 45 minutes longer - Note: I found it very soupy, so I added a slurry of 1 tbsp cornstarch to 1-2 tbsp water to dissolve the cornstarch).
6. Stir in the eggplant, add some salt & pepper if you like. Transfer to a large baking dish (BA suggests glass, I used my ceramic lasagna pan. Note: they say 13”x9”x2”, but that really filled to the top without the topping, so I suggest either a larger pan or at the very least set the pan in a large rimmed baking sheet lined with foil for easy cleanup. This step can be made up to 3 days in advance.)
Preparing the topping: (about 30-40 minutes)
1.Cook the potatoes in salted water in a large pot until tender. I actually boiled the garlic with the potatoes and then mashed them to “season” the butter and oil, giving it a more mellow, but still garlicky flavor and aroma. Drain well and return to pot to eliminate any extra moisture.
2. Melt butter with the oil and add the mashed garlic in a saucepan over medium high heat. Add the milk and bring to a simmer. Add the heated milk mixture to the potatoes and mash until smooth. Stir in the cheese and season with some salt & pepper.
3. Drop the potato mixture over the filling by heaping tablespoonfuls, covering the filling completely. Note: this was when mine started to overflow and I had to ladle out some of the sauce. Sprinkle lightly with paprika.
Final Baking: (about 45 minutes)
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C
2. Bake until the filling is heated through (only really important if you’ve made the filling much earlier) and the topping is golden (about 45 minutes).