Shepherd's pie is one of those dishes that, if you can find someone in England that hasn't heard of it or eaten it, I'll give you a tenner. It's almost as ubiquitous in England as queuing, complaining about the weather and warm beer.
The original version of shepherds pie is a layer of mince and carrots covered with a layer of mashed potatoes. It's got lots of characteristics about it that makes me think of typical English food: cheap meat, root veggies, being left in the oven for ages.
According to the source of all such trivia, Wikipedia, it's reckoned shepherd's pie rose to popularity in the 18th century, and has been turning up on English tables ever since.
I remember a lot of it turning up on my plate as a kid, certainly, and not always being welcome there.
Still, I wasn't altogether upset when Vegan MoFo gave me a push to cook it again - it's the sort of stuff that warms you up when the weather's cold, and proper sticks to your ribs.
Because it's such a familiar dish in English cooking, and not an overly complex one, there's loads of veggie and vegan version out there. This one's mine.
Vegan shepherd's pieServes about 4, I reckon
Oil for frying
One onion, sliced into thin half moons
One leek, sliced into 1cm coins
One large carrot into 1cm dice
Two sticks of celery, cut into 1cm dice
150g red lentils
150g green lentils
One tin tomatoes
Four sprigs of thyme
Vegan Worcestershire sauce
one-quarter bottle wine
350mls vegetable stock
Two tablespoons tomato puree
One and a half brown miso
700g potatoes, cut into quarters
How you do it
Fry the onion for a couple of minutes, then add the onion, leek, carrot, and celery and fry for a further five minutes until a bit softened.
Add the red and green lentils, tinned tomatoes, wine, stock, thyme, bay leaf, a couple of shakes of Worcestershire sauce, and tomato puree. Bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer until lentils are cooked.
While that's going on, boil the potatoes until soft, then mash and add a bit of milk to make a loose mash. Add some oil or vegan marge if you like. Add a bit of white pepper if you've got some knocking about. At some point along the way, preheat your oven to 210C.
Cooking the lentils should take 30 to 40 minutes. You want most, but not all of the liquid gone. When they're done, fish out the bay leaf and thyme springs, then add the brown miso and black pepper if you fancy. (You could leave it cool then freeze at this point. You might also find you've got a bit of spare lentil mix!)
Put the lentil mix into an ovenproof dish, then top with the mash.
Bake til the mash starts to get tiny brown bits on top - another half an hour.
And then serve with veggies and a bit of gravy!