Shepherd’s Pie: Saviour of Wales?

Welsh cuisine’s profile is relatively small when compared to that of its international rivals.

Some will say that there’s a reason for this, they’ll argue that Welsh food is by and large very derivative of English cuisine and that it is plain or otherwise interesting…

…it should go without saying that we disagree with this rather strongly.

Welsh food might well have its similarities with English cuisine due to our geographical proximity but the flavours, compositions and ingredients that make up our dishes contribute to a scene that is far more than the sum of its parts. The food that is made by Welsh men and women is a result of our fantastic local produce, centuries of inherited traditions and the innovation of thousands of Welsh home cooks.

Welsh Shepherd’s Pie is a wonderful example of how Welsh cooks have used locally sourced ingredients to adapt a pre-existing recipe and create something that is new, refreshing and (most importantly) Welsh.

Every single ingredient in this recipe can be grown and bought in Wales, making it a meal that is not only affordable but also a key contributor to the Welsh economy. Despite the quality and abundance of Welsh Lamb, farmers are still struggling to sell it to supermarkets. In a post-Brexit world with the threat of greater import prices on the horizons, some Welsh ministers are suggesting that Welsh Lamb could set up to become the biggest boon of the economy. Once processed into mince Welsh Lamb could become the key ingredient in thousands of ready meals, as well as being used by catering companies in mass-produced meals that would be delivered across the UK.

Before we see that bright future though, you might want to get a little taste of what’s to come. Try out the following recipe to get a true taste of Welsh cuisine and for best results always use Welsh produce.

Welsh Lamb Shepherds Pie

Serves four hungry mouths.

450g Welsh Lamb mince
900g Maris Piper potatoes, peeled and chopped into cubes
2 good-sized parsnips, peeled and diced
¼ cabbage, shredded
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1-2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons tomato purée
300ml Lamb stock
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and Pepper to season
splash of milk for mashing potatoes
2 teaspoon butter for mashing


Preheat your oven to Gas Mark 4 or 180ºC for fan.

Place your prepared potatoes and parsnips in a large pan, cover with just enough boiling water to cover and fast simmer with the lid on for about 10-15 minutes until soft (add the cabbage during last 5 minutes of cooking).

Meanwhile, place the Welsh Lamb mince, onion and garlic in a cold pan. Place on the heat and ‘dry fry’ in its own juices and brown for about 4-5 minutes.

Add the carrot, flour and purée and combine well together.

Add the stock and herbs. Season and bring to the boil and then simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on the pan.

Drain the potatoes, parsnips and cabbage. Add the milk and margarine or butter and mash.

Place the mince mixture into a family sized gratin dish and top with a layer of mash.

Place in a preheated oven until crisp and golden, about 20-25 minutes.

Serve with fresh spinach or other greens.

The Michelin Guide’s Favourite Welsh Restaurants

Nine restaurants have been honoured with a place in the Michelin Guide

Would you like to visit one of these stellar restaurants?

There’s much more to Welsh cuisine than just Fish’n’Chips and Glamorgan Sausage. Despite our reputation for fried foods and leeks there are plenty of high-end restaurants that you can find some truly delicious food at. Although many talented Welsh chefs choose to leave the Motherland every year to work in London, more and more restaurateurs are seeking out alternate locations to start their businesses; with many young chef investing in Birmingham as well smaller cities and town in Wales.

The restaurant business is a cut-throat one but that hasn’t stopped these innovative eateries from flourishing in Brexit Britain:

Sosban and The Old Butchers

You’ll need to book months ahead in order to secure a table at Sosban and The Old Butchers, a family-run business that has brought fine-dining excellence to rural North Wales. Their set tasting menu shifts constantly and there are only 16 covers in the place, so you’re guaranteed a peaceful night.

How much? Dinner for £80
Lunch for £40
Awards? 1 Michelin Star + 4 AA Rosettes
Telephone: 01248 208 131
Address: Trinity House
1 High Street
Menai Bridge
LL59 5EE
Website: https://sosbanandtheoldbutchers.com/

The Walnut Tree


Gaining notoriety in the early ’60s, The Walnut Tree sits two miles east of Abergavenny, offering Michelin-star dining as well as accommodation in the form of three cottages. The nearby Angel Hotel offers guestrooms for those who indulge a little too much and need a similarly classy place to sleep off their dinner.

How much? Starters from £11
Mains from £25
Three course lunch from £30
Awards? 1 Michelin Star + 3 AA Rosettes
Telephone: 01873 852797
Address: Old Ross Rd
Llanddewi Skirrid
Abergavenny
NP7 8AW
Website: https://www.thewalnuttreeinn.com/

Tyddyn Llan

This 3-star hotel has the considerable boon of having veteran Bryan Webb at the helm who has steered the restaurant to holding their Michelin star for a 7 years now. Choose from a dinner menu or indulge in one of their spectacular tasting menus.

How much? Dinner from £70
Six-course Taster from £80
Nine-course Taster from £95
Awards? 1 Michelin Star
Telephone: 01490 440264
Address: Llandrillo
Corwen
LL21 0ST
Website: http://www.tyddynllan.co.uk/

Ynyshir


Gareth Ward is the man behind this hugely popular restaurant success story. Since opening Gareth has put a huge focus creating an all-round restaurant experience that is, in his words, ‘FUNDINING NOT FINEDINING’ – although the glittering array of awards and accolades that Ynshir has collected in 2018 highlight that he has the latter down a tee whether he wants to or not.

How much? 11 Course Lunch for £75
19 Course Dinner £110-125
Awards? 1 Michelin Star + 5 AA Rosettes
Telephone: 01654 781209
Address: Ynyshir Restaurant and Rooms
Eglwys Fach
Machynlleth
Powys
SY20 8TA
Website: https://ynyshir.co.uk/

The Checkers Montgomery


Wales is an odd place to find French Fine Dining, but it’s there nonetheless. The Checkers Montgomery is a family-run restaurant that celebrates the very best of French food whilst making use of the wide stock of ingredients that Wales has to offer. After training under Michel Roux Senior, Stephane opened The Checkers in 2011 and was awarded a Michelin star for his efforts within the year.

How much? Six-course menu for £65 per person
Awards? 1 Michelin Star
Telephone: 01686 669822
Address: Broad St,
Montgomery
SY15 6PN
Website: https://www.checkerswales.co.uk/