Vanessa’s Shepherd’s Pie with Buttermilk Yukon Gold Topping

Yukon Gold Shepherd's Pie LDVanessa Currie is a potato researcher, the keeper of the progeny of Yukon Gold and a fabulous cook. Never one to miss an opportunity to hold forth on her favourite topic…good spuds, she writes: “A word about the potatoes – I suggest Yukon Gold where available. I would not recommend red skinned, or other yellow fleshed, especially the “low carb” varieties. These types tend to have lower specific gravities and don’t mash as nicely. Long whites and russets also work well for mashing. Round whites are highly variable, and the consumer can’t really be sure what they are getting. Stick with longs, russets and Yukons for mashed. It is not necessary to peel the potatoes. Most of the nutrients are in the peel. In fact, coloured flesh and skin potatoes have antioxidant activity comparable to spinach and Brussels sprouts. They also have high anthocyanins, flavonoids and carotenoids. Yellow fleshed, and Yukon Gold is a great example, are also high in carotenoids. In general, most of the nutrients in potato are in the skin, so eating the skin is important, and if the skin is coloured, so much the better. If you chop the potatoes small enough, the peelings aren’t objectionable.

For this dish, I love to slice a few red Thai bird chilis (the really hot, small ones) over top of my plate. The heat from the chilis goes really well with the savoury flavours of the lamb and the mild mashed potatoes.”

  • 1 lb (450 g) ground lamb
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 tbsps (30 mL) all purpose flour
  • 1 cup (250 mL) beef stock
  • 1tsp (5 mL) dried thyme
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 – 1 ½ cups (250 – 375 mL) frozen peas ‘n carrots or fresh peas
  • 6 – 7 medium Yukon Gold potatoes
  • ½ cup (125 mL) unsalted butter
  • ¼ – ½ cup (60 – 125 mL) buttermilk

In a skillet, fry the lamb till starting to brown. Stir in the onion and garlic, continue cooking until the mixture is well browned. Stir in the flour and cook for 20 – 30 seconds. Whisk in the stock and cook till the mixture begins to thicken. Season with the thyme, parsley, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Stir in the peas and carrots or the peas. Transfer to a lightly oiled medium-sized casserole.

Scrub the potatoes, quarter them and cook in a large pot of boiling well salted water. When tender, drain and whip in the unsalted butter and buttermilk. Season generously with salt & pepper. Mix well and mash coarsely and spread over the meat. Run a fork over the top to get little ridges which brown up nicely when cooked. Bake, uncovered at 375’F (190’C) for one hour, until it is golden on the top and bubbling around the sides.

Serves 4 to 6.

Recipe from Anita Stewart’s CANADA: The Food, The Recipes, The Stories (Harper Collins Canada 2008/2014)  Photo by Robert Wigington. 

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