Monday, December 17, 2012

Shepherd's Pie

Blog's Category: DK Challenges

December's DK challenge was Shepard's Pie. Although I never made it before, Shepherd's pie wasn't that challenging to me because components of a pie are something that I do on a regular basis - mashed potato, cooked vegetables and some sort of ground meat stew. Piece of cake! It is just a matter of putting all together and giving it a nice heat in an oven.

It's a true comfort food to enjoy curling in a chair and watching favorite movie while it's rainy/snowy and grey outside. Is that the reason why this dish belongs to Northern earths of Canada, Russia, Scandinavian countries?
Also this is a perfect recipe for your leftovers! Have a chili that has become boring next day? Go ahead and use it up as a bottom layer of your Shepherd's pie. Throw "couple" green peas and corn from a fridge, mashed potato goes on a top and you all set up for a great homey dinner! Well, some cheese sprinkled over doesn't hurt too :) But if you don't have any leftovers, here is a recipe from scratch. Note, there are some substitutions there for vegetarians like myself.

Shepherd's Pie

For 8-10 servings:

8 potatoes, peeled
2 cups sour cream (or milk)
.5 - 1 stick of butter
2 eggs
2-3 lb of ground meat of your choice (I used pork)
1 can of lima beans (optional, as a substitution for a meat for vegetarians)
1 large onion, diced
4-5 garlic cloves, peeled
1 green pepper, diced
3 large carrots, peeled and diced
2 tbs coriander seeds (optional, or ground coriander)
1 tbs cumin seed (optional, or cumin powder)
3 cups of frozen green peas
3 cups of frozen corn
3 tbs tomato paste
3-5 tbs chopped fresh parsley
2-3 dry chili pepper (optional)
1 cup of grated cheese (optional, I didn't use it)
olive oil

- Cook potato in salted water until completely done. Drain a water and mash well until smooth. Add butter and sour cream, mash well again and set aside to cool down. When potato is cooled to the warm temperature, add eggs and mix very well.

- Roast coriander and cumin seeds on a dry frying pan, on a medium heat, tossing often, on a medium heat, until seeds are very fragrant. Transfer them on a dry plate to cool down faster.

- Smash garlic on a cutting board with your knife and using pestle and mortar, make a garlic paste, adding coriander and cumin seeds to it. Add some salt to it to facilitate the grinding process. Set aside.

- In a large frying pan, put some olive oil and cook onion on a medium low heat until soft. Add carrots and dried chili pepper and continue to cook stirring until carrots are tender soft. Add green pepper. Continue to cook until pepper is cooked. Add some salt. Add garlic/spice paste and ground meat (or beans if you are making it vegetarian), cook until meat is cooked. Add tomato paste and couple cups of water and continue to cook stirring - you have to have nice vegetable/ground stew in a rich tomato sauce. Avoid sauce to be too watery. Adjust salt. When done set a stew aside.

- Place frozen peas and corn in a microwavable dish and microwave for 30 sec to 1 min to thaw it a little bit. Mix peas, corn, fresh chopped parsley and a bit of salt. Set aside.

- Let's construct the pie! In a roasting dish (I prefer glass one) layer meat stew in a bottom of a pan, then make a layer of peas and corn. Then spread potato on a top. If your potato puree is too tough to spread, mix in some water or milk to get softer consistency. Sprinkle some cheese on a top if you like so and pop in a preheated to 375F oven for about 1 hour.

- Remove from an oven when nice golden crust is there and edges are pretty and crusty too. Enjoy!

Some conclusions and discoveries along-the-way

- In a bottom layer you can lay basically anything "saucy" you would eat with a mashed potato - such as chopped chicken marsala leftovers; or chopped eggplant (or chicken) parmesan; or chopped meatballs in a tomato or bechamel sauce!

- Shepard's pie may be easily adjusted to any world cuisine with a strategic choice of spices and sauces. For example, it can have oriental "face" if for a bottom layer you put orange chicken pieces, then layer of bock choy, chopped and then potato puree layer, topped with sesame seeds! Or make it Mexican by using taco style seasoning for ground beef, then put layer of fajita (fried onion and pepper), then layer of black beans. Again, top everything with potato. You've got the idea, right?

- I've found the process of making Shepherd's Pie from scratch rather lengthy unless it's not for purpose of using up leftovers. For repurposing your yesterday's dinner though, Shepherd's Pie is a brilliant finding!

In a small pan - my vegetarian version. For carnivores - large pan on a right :)

Whole dried chili peppers do not give a lot of hit away. It will be just slightly spicy. If you want to give it a stronger kick, chop chili pepper up (with seeds - it will be even hotter).

Garlic/spices paste goes into vegetables.

I used lean pork pieces to grind. You can totally use store-bought ground meat to your liking - ground beef, ground pork, chicken or lamb work as well.

Vegetarian and meaty, working in parallel.

Frozen peas and corn are thawed in microwave a little bit, then mixed with parsley and pinch of salt.

Assembly line. In a background you see melted ghee I added to potato in place of butter (as in a recipe above)

To make pretty "scallops" before putting pie in an oven, I used spoon.

Yummy crusty ridges of my vegetarian Shepherd's Pie...

Random brown spikes of meat version of Shepherd's Pie.



  1. Your shepherd's pie looks really good. Any dish with peas and corn in it is usually a winner in my book.

    1. ..I'm on the same corn/peas bandwagon with you :)


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