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Mediterranean Shepherd’s Pie

A simple twist on a classic, this shepherd’s pie combines the delicate flavour of Ontario lamb with savoury Kalamata olives and dense, crumbly polenta and parmesan.

 1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
 2 medium onions, chopped
 3 lbs (1.5 kg) ground Ontario lamb
 ½ tsp (2 mL) each, salt and fresh cracked pepper
 3 cloves garlic, minced
 2 tbsp (30 mL) tomato paste
 ½ cup (125 mL) red wine
 ½ cup (125 mL) chicken broth
 1 28 oz (796 mL) can diced tomatoes
 1 sprig fresh rosemary
 ½ cup (125 mL) chopped Kalamata olives
 ¼ cup (50 mL) chopped, fresh parsley
 3 cups (750 mL) water
 2 cups (500 mL) ground polenta
 3 cups (750 mL) cold milk
 1 tsp (5 mL) salt
 1 cup (250 mL) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
 2 tbsp (5 mL) butter

Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).


In large, deep skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring often, until tender and golden, about 10 minutes. Add lamb and cook, breaking up pieces, until browned and no pink remains, about 10 minutes. Drain any fat; season with salt and pepper. Add garlic and tomato paste and cook for one minute. Add wine and simmer until it reduces by half. Add broth, tomatoes and rosemary. Adjust heat to maintain a simmer, stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens and coats the meat, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in olives and parsley.


Meanwhile, in large saucepan over high heat, bring water to a boil. Stir in polenta, milk and salt, stirring constantly, until smooth and polenta begins to thicken, about 15 minutes.


Reduce heat to medium and cook until the polenta begins to bubble and pop, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low, stir in Parmesan and butter, continuing to stir until the polenta pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 10 minutes.

To assemble:

Spread lamb filling into a 9-x13-inch (3 L) baking dish. Drop large spoonfuls of polenta evenly over the surface of the lamb and gently spread to get an even layer. Bake 30 to 40 minutes until the polenta is golden and filling is bubbling around the edges. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Cook's Notes:

Makes 10 to 12 servings

Potato lovers can substitute in mashed potatoes for the polenta.