South African shepherd’s pie recipe

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  • Yield: 4 Servings(10-ounce) ramekins


For the Meat Filling
  • 1 slice white bread or brioche
  • 2⁄3 cup milk
  • 2–3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1–2 green chilies (jalapeño or serrano)
  • ¼ teaspoon minced ginger
  • 3–4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon ground garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon hot Hungarian paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1¼ pounds ground meatball blend (1⁄3 each of beef/pork/veal)
  • 4 tablespoons red currant or apricot preserves
  • 2 tablespoons malt vinegar
  • 1 plum tomato, roughly chopped
  • Salt, to taste
For the Egg Custard
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • Pinch salt
  • Chives, sliced, for garnish
How to Make It
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Place bread in a bowl and cover with milk. Let sit until ready to use, turning if necessary to make sure the entire piece of bread is soaked.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil and then the onions, chilies, and ginger with a bit of salt to draw out the moisture. Sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add in the garlic and spices and sauté for another 30 seconds to a minute, until the garlic is fragrant.
  4. Increase the heat to medium-high and push the vegetables aside a bit. Add the ground meat and brown for 3 to 4 minutes—you want to develop color and deepen the flavor of the ground meat. Using a wooden spoon or a spatula, break up the meat with the onions and spices to mix. Add the preserves, malt vinegar, and tomato and season with salt. Lower heat and simmer uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes for all of the flavors to meld. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  5. Transfer mixture to a bowl using a slotted spoon and let cool briefly. Wring out excess milk from the bread and add to the meat mixture. Mix thoroughly. Fill 4 (10-ounce) ramekins 3⁄4 full with meat mixture and place ramekins in a roasting pan or baking dish.
  6. Combine eggs, heavy cream, and pinch of salt and pour to fill ramekins to the top. You want to bake these in a water bath, so fill the roasting pan or baking dish with boiling water until it comes at least halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
  7. Cook at 350°F for 25 to 30 minutes or until the custard is set. You want the custard to be supple, so don’t overcook or it turns into an omelet topping. If it jiggles a bit in the center, that’s fine. Just let it sit in the water bath once you’ve taken it out of the oven to firm up a bit.
  8. Let cool for a few minutes before serving. Serve in the ramekins topped with chopped chives.

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