I was very excited to find ground lamb at the supermarket, and immediately looked for a delicious way to cook it.
The story that accompanied this recipe, which was originally "shortcut moussaka" was fabulous. However, it was mentioned it wasn't authentic - so I didn't feel too bad leaving out the eggplant, and calling it shepherds pie.
1 1/2 pounds of potatoes (I used a mix of potatoes and sweet potatoes)
1/3 cup of half-and-half
1 egg yolk
3/4 cup parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 pound of ground lamb
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cinnamon sticks
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
3 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons bread crumbs
Bring 6 cups water, the potatoes and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Lower heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes, drain and return potatoes to the warm pot. In a small bowl, whisk together half and half and egg yolk. Mash potatoes with egg mixture, 1/2 cup cheese, butter, 1/4 teaspoon salt and nutmeg. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
In a large skillet, brown the lamb, breaking it up as it cooks. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Push the meat to one side of the skillet and spoon off all but a thin layer of fat from the skillet. Add the onions and cinnamon sticks to the skillet. Cook until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Stir the lamb back into the onions and add the garlic and ground clove. Cook 2 minutes more. Stir in the tomatoes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Cook until tomatoes are soft and the mixture is thick, about 10 minutes.
Spoon into a 9-inch baking dish. Spread the mashed potatoes over the lamb. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and the remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Bake until top is golden brown and slightly crusty, about 30 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving.
Recipe adapted from The New York Times, October 2011