Who can forget Carla Hall? Twice a contestant on Top Chef, she was voted “Fan Favorite” her second time around, which is equivalent to being named “Miss Congeniality” in the old Miss America days. She was lots of fun to watch and never an unkind word came out of her mouth, a trait sadly missing from Top Chefs most of the time. She made it all the way to the finals, her recipe for Chicken Pot Pie landing her an appearance on Jimmy Fallon. Sadly she suffered major equipment failures in the finals and was bounced off the show. But talk about bouncing back. She is now a fixture on ABC’s “The Chew” where she enlivens the proceedings with her philosophy of ‘Cooking with Love’ which became the name of her first Book subtitled ‘Comfort Food that hugs you’ (Simon and Schuster 2012). Since “The Chew” is taped within walking distance of our New York apartment, I was not surprised to see Chef Hall in our local supermarket where she greeted one all with her fabulous smile. My next encounter with Carla was in Food and Wine’s “Chef’s Easy Weeknight Dinners” (Time Affluent Media Group 2014). Her contribution to the book is a Mediterranean influenced riff on Shepherd’s Pie. And it’s well worth the 45 minutes it takes to make the whole thing.
Recipe for Carla Hall’s Spiced Lamb and Potato Pie Serves 4 to 6. Takes 45 minutes total time.
2. In a large non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil over moderately high heat. Add the potatoes and cook, until golden brown, about 7 minutes. Drain on paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
3. Meanwhile, heat a 10 inch cast skillet over moderately high heat. Add the ground lamb, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring to break up the meat, until browned, about 5 minutes. Drain off all but one tablespoon of fat from the pan. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, the chopped mint and the oregano and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the flour and cook over moderate heat, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Stir in the peas and remove from heat.
4. Spread the meat mixture in an even layer and arrange the potatoes on top in overlapping slices. Top with Feta.
4. Let cool slightly, then garnish with mint leaves and serve.