Hussyband is on call this week, which is probably a good thing considering what a crazy birthday party I had last weekend for my 40th, and the dinner we have planned this week at Nobu on my actual birthday/4th wedding anniversary.
Being confined close to home has its advantages - I made a HUGE batch of passata with tomatoes and basil from the garden that has reduced down for most of the afternoon. And first thing this morning after watching the Wallabies beat South Africa in the Rugby World Cup, I dug out my trusty slow cooker and prepared it for duty.
First off I sliced up 2 onions, 6 cloves of garlic, 4 eschallots and 2 carrots and put them into the base of the slow cooker on top of which I gently rested a shoulder of lamb and a couple of sprigs of rosemary, then poured a bottle of red wine and some really good grinds of salt and pepper. The lid went on, switched on low and forgot about for the next ohhhh 8 hours or so.
Drain the meat and vegetables by tipping them into a colander resting over the top of a bowl or saucepan - you want to keep all the juices, then allow to cool. Then roughly shred the meat with your fingers it will just fall apart into luscious lamb-ie strips.
Once at room temp, put the juices in the fridge for an hours so that the fats solidify, then scoop them off carefully with a slotted spoon. Then I reduced the juice by half, and added a couple about 1/2 a cup of the passata (use a good jar from the supermarket if you dont have a surplus of tomatoes simmering all day!) Return the meat and vegetables to the sauce and stir well to combine.
Hussyband was in the mood for potatoes, so I divided the meat between two enamel pie tins - one I topped with roughly piped mashed potato, and bunged into the oven at 180C until crispy on top. The moans of happiness from He Who Supposedly Must Be Obeyed were testament. The meat was tender and the gravy just unctuous enough to hold it all together, and the mash was soft with crispy edges.
Version 2 was topped with a polenta shortcrust pastry. It is dead easy to make, 200grams of plain flour, 50grams of uncooked polenta, 125grams of cold butter (cubed) all get popped into the bowl of a food processor and pulsed until it resembles breadcrumbs. Then slowly add a couple of tablespoons of ices water until the dough starts to ball together, then remove and gently need together into a ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 mins. After it has chilled, roll out to 3-4mm thick between two sheets of plastic wrap of grease proof paper
Cut two long strips and use these to edge the pie dish. The carefully place the remaining pastry over the top of the pie and trim to slightly larger than the dish. Using a fork, press the pastry into the edging working your way around the pie. Slice a cross into the centre to allow steam to escape, you can also insert a pastry crow to help this along (and they look so pretty!) Use any left over pastry to decorate the top of the pie as you see fit. Brush the pastry with a mixture of beaten egg and milk and bake for 20 mins at 180C until the pastry is brown and crispy.
Hussy will be eating potato topped pie for a few days, and the pastry topped one is going into the freezer for a few weeks until another cold miserable day when I cant be bothered cooking!
PS: The diet is going really well - lost 15kgs so far, but gee I miss blogging!