Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Easy Eats... Shepherd's Pie

Shepherd's pie is one of those easy to eat foods that is fairly low on effort but high on impact at the table for the family. Each spoonful is soft and saucy allowing you to eat in a rhythmatic motion like a hearty soup while feeding your soul at the same time. This is real comfort food at it's best! If you've got some ground meat,  frozen or fresh corn and potatoes you've got yourself a meal. I've always found it funny that the French Canadians call this Pâté Chinois (Chinese pie), because there's nothing Chinese about it. But if you look back on its origins it was said that the Chinese cooks who worked on the North American Railway introduced this dish to those working on the Canadian Railway as a cheaply prepared version of the cottage pie to appeal to their bosses. Come to think of it, I vaguely remember my mom making this dish when I was little, but I'm sure if she did she put soy sauce in it.

My recipe makes about 6 to 8 servings.

1) Peel six medium potatoes, cut into smaller pieces and steam on a steamer in a pot for 15 minutes or until soft. Use russet or Yukon potatoes for its mealy texture which is perfect for mashing. I like to include a sweet potato or two for its sweetness and nutritional benefits such as Vitamins B6 and C.

2) Meanwhile, dice one small onion, one garlic clove, one medium carrot and a handful of mushrooms. Use whatever vegetables you like to mix with the meat mixture. I will also add one cup of frozen green peas.

3) Mash the cooked potatoes in a medium pot with a potato masher until smooth and lump-free.

4) Add 2 Tbsp. butter and 1 cup of milk. Stir until well-blended. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. I like mine soft but firm enough to hold up as the top layer on the pie.

5) Place 1 lb. of lean ground beef and 1/4 lb. of lean ground pork in a bowl, add 3 Tbsp. water and stir with a fork to break down and soften the meat. TIP: This will create a similar texture to minced meat, and you will not need to work so hard to break up the clumps of meat that form when cooking. 

6) Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in the skillet. Cook the onions and garlic for two minutes until soft and fragrant. Stir in the carrots and mushrooms and cook for five minutes. Add the peas, toss for another minute then add the meat mixture. Add 2 Tbsp. of concentrated liquid beef bouillon and mix well. Cook until the meat is done. TIP: You can substitute the bouillon and add 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce and 3 Tbsp. ketchup for extra savoury flavour. Carefully drain the liquid leaving about 1/4 cup. Mix 2 tsp. cornstarch in 1 Tbsp. water and stir into mixture until thickened. Place into a deep casserole dish as the bottom layer.

8) Cook 2 cups of corn kernels in the same skillet on medium heat until slightly soft and add 1/2 cup of chicken broth and 1 cup of milk. Stir and cook for two minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix 1 Tbsp. cornstarch in 2 Tbsp. water and stir into corn until thickened. TIP: Use one and 1/2 cans of creamed corn and pour straight over the meat mixture without cooking. I made this from scratch because I didn't have any on hand, but found this was so simple to make I may never have to purchase the cans anymore. Layer the corn on top of the meat mixture to form the second layer.

9) Spoon mash potatoes evenly on top of the corn to form the top layer. You can brush a thin layer of egg on the surface to help brown the potato crust that will form more evenly and with a nice sheen.

10) Cover and place into the oven preheated at 375 F. Bake for 20 minutes and then uncover to bake for 20 minutes more. I like using the convection oven because you don't waste electricity with all the extra unused space.

Dinner is served!!

Add paprika and parsley flakes on top for garnish! My kids were eagerly waiting by the kitchen counter to serve them a piece, and once I gave each a big dollop on their plate and a squirt of ketchup, they happily took off to eat.

Check these recipes for more comfort "Easy Eats". Sure to find something the family will enjoy! Cheers!

1 comment:

  1. Hallow Susan..
    i hope you are fine.i like your blog and follow your blog because you can deliver lot of valuable information different cooking and different tasty and healthy recipes.that's why i love very much your blog.this is my new recipe so i will try to make this at my kitchen home.hopefully i can do it cause your reviews is very clear what element and what are you doing this.i just follow step by step.