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.

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