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A Lamb Lover's Shepherd's Pie

May 16, 1996|KATHLEEN ST. IVES

Nearly every English pub serves shepherd's pie every day except Sunday. It's a simple dish of ground beef and gravy covered with mashed potatoes and baked until the top starts to brown.

How is it possible to offer the same dish every day in almost every pub in the country without causing a revolution? Well, like the hamburger, shepherd's pie is a good combination of textures and flavors, a nice balance of meat, starch and vegetables.

Shepherd's pie also has the advantage of retaining its heat when it's removed from the oven, so that when the cook sits down to join the guests or when the guests decide to take seconds, it is still hot and delicious.

Still, good as the traditional shepherd's pie is, there's no rule against playing with the formula. This is my version of the classic pub favorite to which I add Middle Eastern spices and aromatic herbs. Pine nuts vary the texture, and cumin perfumes the lamb. But most important, I use lamb in place of beef. The result is a subtle nuance of the Middle East beneath a blanket of fluffy creamed potatoes. Purists might complain, but my very British husband loves it.

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MENU

St. Ives Shepherd's Pie

Mixed Green Salad With Curry Dressing

Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake With Lemon Curd Sauce

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GAME PLAN:

3 hours before: Soak poppy seeds. Spray and flour bundt pan. Combine and mix ingredients for pound cake and bake. Prepare lemon curd sauce.

2 hours before: Prepare mashed potatoes. Chop onion, shallot, thyme and parsley. Cook ground lamb. Toast pine nuts. Prepare brown gravy. Combine and mix ingredients for Shepherd's Pie in oven-proof dish and bake.

30 minutes before: Wash salad greens and tear into bite-size pieces. Prepare curry dressing. If you don't have small children, set the table.

Last minute: If you do have small children, set the table. Toss extra pine nuts on top of salad. Invert cooled pound cake on a platter and serve with lemon curd sauce.

STAPLES

Butter

Onion

Dried marjoram

Ground cumin

Paprika

Rice vinegar

Extra-virgin olive oil

Dijon-style mustard

Salt

Pepper

Vanilla extract

Oil

10 eggs

Sugar

Nonstick cooking spray

Flour

SHOPPING LIST

1 shallot

2 (8-ounce) containers frozen beef broth

Lemon extract

2 lemons

1 bunch fresh thyme

1 bunch fresh parsley

1 bunch fresh mint

2 pounds ground lamb

2 ounces pine nuts

1 pint whipping cream

1 (8-ounce) container sour cream

1 1/2 pounds baking potatoes

1 (1-pound 2 1/4-ounce) box lemon cake mix with pudding

1 (4-ounce) box lemon instant pudding

Combination of any of the following:

1 head leaf lettuce

1 head red leaf lettuce

1 head escarole

1 bunch spinach

1 head endive

1 head butter lettuce

1 bunch arugula

1 head radicchio

1 bunch basil

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ST. IVES SHEPHERD'S PIE

MASHED POTATOES

1 1/2 pounds baking potatoes

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup whipping cream or milk

1 tablespoon sour cream

Salt, pepper

Peel potatoes, cut into large pieces and cook until tender in pot of boiling water, about 20 minutes. Place hot potatoes in large bowl and mash with butter, gradually adding cream and sour cream, until light in texture. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

BROWN GRAVY

2 pounds ground lamb

2 cups frozen or homemade rich beef broth

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Cook lamb in large skillet until browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain meat and reserve, leaving pan drippings in skillet.

Add 1/4 cup Mashed Potatoes to drippings in skillet and stir over low heat until smooth and browned. Add beef broth and cook until mixture thickens, stirring constantly. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

ASSEMBLY

2 tablespoons butter

1 large onion, chopped

1 shallot, chopped

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

2 teaspoons chopped parsley

2 teaspoons dried marjoram

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons paprika

2 teaspoons mint

1/3 cup toasted pine nuts

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and shallot and saute until transparent. Stir in thyme, parsley, marjoram, cumin, paprika, mint, reserved lamb from brown gravy, toasted pine nuts and Brown Gravy. Season to taste with salt and pepper and spoon into 13x9-inch baking dish.

Spread remaining Mashed Potatoes over lamb mixture. With tines of fork, mark surface to look like thatching. Dot with remaining tablespoon butter and bake at 350 degrees until top is crisp and golden brown, about 45 minutes.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Each of 6 servings contains about:

605 calories; 440 mg sodium; 132 mg cholesterol; 47 grams fat; 24 grams carbohydrates; 25 grams protein; 0.98 grams fiber.

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MIXED GREEN SALAD WITH CURRY DRESSING

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard

1 1/2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper

2 cups mixed greens

While you're toasting pine nuts for the Shepherd's Pie, toast a few extra and throw them into the salad.

In salad bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil, mustard, parsley, curry powder, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.

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