Sept, 2017: After our first attempt at a pot roasted lamb leg we found ourselves with a healthy amount of left over meat. In the shadows of the Spitzkoppe hills in Namibia we felt the only sensible use for such leftovers was none other than some camp fire shepherd’s pie. Whatever genius came up with this glorious example of thrift cooking really needs a medal as shepherd’s pie must be one of the world’s great comfort foods. And, camp fire shepherd’s pie takes it to a whole new level. At least, that’s the way we feel about. Enriched with Worcestershire sauce, flecked with peas and topped with rich cheesie mash, which gets crisped up nicely in the fire, just the thought of it while I’m typing makes my mouth water. No doubt that first shepherd just made do with the meagre ingredients he/she had to hand but here is the Compass & Ladle version.
Camp fire shepherd’s pie: Ingredients (serves 4)
~0.5kg of roast lamb leftover meat*
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 large clove of garlic, finely chopped
3-4 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp tomato sauce (ketchup)
1 beef stock cube (or mutton if available)
2/3 cup of frozen peas
1 cup of water
Large pinch each of dried rosemary and thyme
4 large potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 Tbsp butter
150g grated cheddar cheese
Salt and cracked pepper
Camp fire shepherd’s pie: Method
- Get your fire started and allow to burn to a nice bed of coals. Depending on the wood and your fire building skills this could take anyway from 45 minutes to two hours.
- When you have enough coals, position a tripod, bricks or rocks a little to the side of your fire. Lay down a shovel full of coals underneath and then put a cast iron frying pan on (with lid) to heat up for 5-10 minutes.**
- Fry off the onion, garlic and carrot in a little oil until vegetables are soft. Then add in the chopped lamb and fry, stirring constantly for a further 5 minutes.
- Next add the Worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce, stock cube, water, dried herbs, salt and pepper and cook for 5-10 minutes until the stock cube is dissolved. Check for seasoning and potentially add some more Worcestershire sauce if you think it needs it. Cover with lid and allow to simmer for a further 15-20 minutes.
- While the meat is simmering, boil your potatoes (on gas if you have it to be faster) until soft. Drain and allow to stand in the hot pot for a minute to allow any residual moisture to evaporate. Add butter, salt and pepper and mash with a fork (or masher if you have one) until you have a smooth mash. Add in the milk and cheese and mix thoroughly. Taste for seasoning and check your consistency and add more of whatever you need.
- Taste your meat for seasoning one more time and then add in your green peas. Allow to cook for another 2-3 minutes until the peas are cooked.
- Spread your mash out across your meat so that you have an even covering about 1-2cm thick. Score the surface with your fork to create a rough surface which will crisp up nicely in the fire.
- Put your lid back on and then pile 2-3 shovels of coals on top. Leave to bake for a 20-30 minutes or until the top of your pie is nice and golden brown.
- Remove from heat and serve with some blanched greens or salad and a good squirt of tomato sauce.
*NOTE: You get similarly good results by using fresh beef mince if you don’t have left over lamb roast available. Just allow a little more time to cook the mince through. Fo
**NOTE: We like to use our cast iron frying pan but you could also just use a big cast iron pot with lid if you don’t have a frying pan.