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We’ve all heard of shepherd’s pie. It’s a dish thought to have originated in the sheep-farming country of northern England and, though the title itself is not recorded until Queen Victoria’s time, the dish probably dates back much further. Some early versions were doubtless very basic but it’s a recipe that’s been embellished and perfected by generations of cooks. This recipe uses goat meat instead of lamb, which is a leaner, and very tasty indeed. You can, of course, still use lamb if you prefer.
To make the filling, heat 1 tbsp oil in a wide frying pan over a medium-low heat. Add the onions, celery and squash and cook gently for about 10 minutes, until the onions begin to soften.
Put the garlic in a pestle and mortar with the salt and crush to a paste. Add the anchovies and bash to form a rough paste. Add this mixture to the pan of vegetables. Cook gently for about 5 minutes, stirring, so the anchovies begin to ‘melt’. Remove the contents of the pan to a bowl, leaving any oil behind.
Increase the heat under the pan. Add a little more oil if necessary, and half the mince. Cook, stirring, until it is browned, then add it to the vegetables. Repeat with the remaining mince then return all the meat and vegetables to the pan.
Add the olives. Stir in the tomato purée and flour and cook gently for 2–3 minutes. Add the wine and stock, bring to the boil then simmer for 15 minutes.
Add the rosemary and cinnamon and season with salt and pepper (if needed – the anchovies are already quite salty).
Transfer the meat to an oven dish with around 1.2 litre capacity.
Heat your oven to 190°C/gas 5.
Put the potatoes in a pan, cover with water, add a little salt and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15–20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Drain them well, mash them or rice them back into the hot pan, and stir in the butter.
Spread the mash over the meat in the dish. Combine the crumbled goat’s cheese and Parmesan and sprinkle over the potato. Bake for 25–30 minutes until the top is golden and crusty and the filling bubbling. Leave to stand for 10–15 minutes before serving, with a green vegetable.
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