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To me, my mom makes the BEST Shepard's pie ever. Why? That's because she cooks without a recipe. I think it runs in the family as I tend to cook without a recipe and trust my own instincts and taste.
Momsie Shepard's pie is what I had growing up. It was always once in a blue moon meal, and depends on what we had in the pantry and fridge. That is why till this day the flavours are locked in my head. I do not tell my mom enough; but I adore my mom's cooking to bits; I idolised her.. and in my eyes she is the celebrity chef. However, these days she has handed over her hat to me in preparing certain type of cuisine. Apparently I'm now the master chef of western cuisine. Talk about pressure. I like to think I'm still growing and there will always be room for improvement.
Okay I will try to break down the recipe as much I could, however the balance of flavours in this one pot meal is crucial in my opinion. The key elements in a Shepard's pie is the gravy cooked together with the meat. The tomato puree must not be overly sour and if there are carrots involved, it should not be over cooked and turns mushy when baked in the oven and if possible no lumps in the mashed potato. Also herbs, really gives you an aromatic tomato puree.
The balance of texture should give you a delicious moist cooked meat [not dry] drenched in the right amount of gravy, some bite and crunch to the carrot and to bind them all together, a rich mashed potato top with some mozzarella baked in the oven till melted and golden brown. Serve warm and enjoy!!