Shepherd's Pie Balls
This recipe was born from a number of places, but the first inspiration was Bien Tasty:
This idea, combined with our 7 Days to Die theme this month, led us down the Shepherd's Pie Balls route. If you think about it, 7 Days to Die has all the ingredients you need to make Shepherd's Pie, Lamb Ration, Potato, and Vegetable Stew! And portable food is incredibly important in Navezgane!
The meat of the Shepherd's Pie is a recipe from Serious Eats.
- For the Mashed Potatoes:
- 4 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
- Kosher salt
- For the Meat Sauce:
- 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock
- 1 packet unflavored gelatin
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 lb ground lamb
- 1/2 large yellow onion, finely diced
- 2 medium carrots, finely diced
- 1 rib of celery, finely diced
- 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- For dredging, forming, and frying:
- 1/2 cup flour in a shallow dish
- 1 Tbsp salt for flour mixture
- 3 eggs in a second shallow dish
- 1/4 cup almond milk for egg mixture
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs in a third shallow dish
- 1 Tbsp salt for panko mixture
- 1 tsp pepper for panko mixture
For the Mashed Potatoes: Set cubed potatoes in a colander and rinse under cold water until water runs clear. Transfer to a large saucepan and cover with cold water by at least 2 inches. Season water with salt until almost as salty as sea water. Bring water to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until a knife easily pierces potatoes with no resistance, about 10 minutes. Drain potatoes in colander, then rinse with cold running water for 30 seconds. Transfer potatoes to a large bowl.
Using a potato masher, food mill, or ricer, mash potatoes. Press surface smooth, then press plastic wrap directly against surface to prevent a skin from forming. Place in refrigerator to cool until ready to assemble.
Meanwhile, for the Meat Sauce: Place stock in a liquid measuring cup, sprinkle with gelatin, and set aside.
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat until shimmering. Add half of ground meat and cook, stirring and scraping bottom of pot, until well browned, 4-6 minutes; use a potato masher or large whisk to break up meat. Add remaining meat and cook, breaking up with masher or whisk, until reduced to small bits, about 3 minutes; lower heat as necessary to prevent scorching. If meat has rendered an excessive amount of fat, use a metal spoon to ladle most of it out, leaving just a few tablespoons in the pot. Add onion, carrots, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring and scraping bottom of pot, until just beginning to soften slightly, about 4 minutes.
Add tomato paste and cook over medium heat, stirring, for 1 minute. Add red wine and bring to a simmer over high heat. Cook, scraping up any browned bits, until almost fully evaporated. Add the chicken stock + gelatin mixture, thyme, bay leaf, and Worcestershire sauce. Sprinkle flour over ground meat in pot, then stir in. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and simmer until sauce is reduced and thick, about 15 minutes. Discard thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Allow to cool to room temperature in refrigerator or freezer. We used the freezer to speed things up.
To Assemble: Once the potatoes and meat sauce have cooled, split the mashed potatoes into 12 equal portions and form the portions into balls. Flatten the ball and spoon meat sauce into the center and seal the potato around it. Repeat for the remaining potato balls.
To Prepare for Frying: Coat an assembled ball in the flour mixture and shake off any excess. Next, roll the ball in the egg mixture to fully coat. Then coat the ball with the panko mixture and toss between your hands gently to remove excess breadcrumbs. Gently place the completed ball on a wire cooling rack on a sheet pan. Repeat with the remaining balls. Place the assembled shepherd's pie balls in the refrigerator for 2 hours or the freezer for 1 hour.
To Fry: Fill a cast iron skillet or dutch oven with about 2" of oil (we used peanut oil) and heat the oil to 350ºF. Working in batches (3 or 4 at a time), add the balls to the oil and fry until golden brown.
Torched Cheese Topping: Top the finished shepherd's pie balls with cheddar cheese and use a blowtorch to melt it. If you don't have a blowtorch, you can put them under the broiler until melted.