Shepherds Pie

Serves 40 (Uploaded : 17/10/10. First cooked : tba)

INGREDIENTS
FOR THE BASE
150g butter
6 onions , chopped
12 carrots , diced
3 head of celery , chopped
12 garlic cloves , crushed
600g pack chestnut mushrooms , sliced
5 bay leaves
3 tbsp dried thyme
3 x 500g pack dried green lentils (eg. Merchant Gourmet Puy lentils)
2.5l vegetable stock
9 tbsp tomato purée

FOR THE TOPPING
5kg floury potatoes , such as King Edwards
250g butter
300ml milk
150g cheddar, grated

METHOD
1. Heat the oven to 190C/gas 5.

2. To make the sauce, heat the butter in a pan, then gently fry the onions, carrots, celery and garlic for 15 mins until soft and golden. Turn up the heat, add the mushrooms, then cook for 4 mins more. Stir in the herbs, then add the lentils. Pour over the wine and stock - it's important that you do not season with salt at this stage. Simmer for 40-50 mins until the lentils are very soft. Now season to taste, take off heat, then stir in the tomato purée.

3. While the lentils are cooking, tip the potatoes into a pan of water, then boil for about 15 mins until tender. Drain well, mash with the butter and milk, then season with salt and pepper.

4. Pour the lentil mixture into a baking tin and top with mash. Sprinkle 3/4 topping with cheese. (Leave 1/4 free of cheese for people who do not eat cheese). Bake for 30 mins until the topping is golden.