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Lamb and Wild Mushroom Shepherd's Pie

Most mushrooms sold in the market today are already quite clean, but you may still need to attend to them a bit at home. Gently brushing mushrooms with a damp cloth or soft brush, such as a mushroom brush or pastry brush, is preferable to washing them. Porous mushrooms will soak up water like a sponge, compromising both the texture and flavor of any dish. Do not scrub so hard that you remove the thin outer skin on the caps; you want only to loosen any dirt or grit. Be sure to rinse the bristles on the brush if they begin to get soiled.

Ingredients:

For the filling:

  • 2 lb. shoulder blade lamb chops, trimmed of fat
      and boned
  • 1 lb. assorted wild mushrooms, such as cremini,
      portobello and shiitake
  • 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 3 large shallots, minced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Turkish bay leaf, minced
  • 1 3/4 cups beef stock
  • 1 Tbs. tomato paste

For the topping:

  • 6 small Yukon Gold potatoes, 1 1/2 lb. total
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

Directions:

To make the filling, cut the lamb into 1/2-inch pieces. Stem and cut the mushrooms into 3/4-inch pieces. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, pepper and allspice. Add the lamb and toss to coat evenly.

In a large nonstick fry pan over medium-high heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the lamb and sauté until well browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Add the remaining 1 Tbs. oil to the pan. Add the shallots and garlic and stir for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and bay leaf and sauté until well browned, about 6 minutes.

Return the lamb to the pan, stir in the stock and tomato paste and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the lamb is tender, about 45 minutes. Uncover and simmer until the juices thicken, about 2 minutes. Transfer the filling to a 9-inch pie dish.

Preheat an oven to 350°F.

To make the topping, pour water to a depth of 1 inch into a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Peel and slice the potatoes into rounds 1/4 inch thick. Put the potato slices into a steamer basket and set the basket over the boiling water. (The water should not touch the bottom of the steamer basket.) Cover and steam until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a small knife, about 12 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to a large bowl. Add the milk, butter, salt and pepper. Mash well with a potato masher. Stir in half of the chives. Spoon the potatoes on top of the lamb mixture to cover it completely.

Bake the pie until it is heated through and the potatoes just begin to brown, about 35 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining chives and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Potato, by Selma Brown Morrow (Simon & Schuster, 2002).