Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Shepherd's Pie - to Peas or not to Peas, that is the Question . . .

Shepherd's Pie.  It's comfort food.  It's called pâté chinois in French (loosely translated to Chinese Pie).  Very popular with French Canadians.  Some people eat it with ketchup oozed all over, I don't agree.  I do like it with pickled beets though.  It's so easy a frat-boy could (and should) make it.

But the big question is:  peas in the mix or not?  I prefer corn, and creamed corn at that.  Canned creamed corn is gross on its own, and I only ever use it in Shepherd's Pie.  But peas just don't make the cut for me.  I think they look to green, too out of place.

So here it is, the great Shepherd's Pie tutorial.  Minus the peas.  After the jump.

 Here's what you'll need:  Ground beef (I used extra lean), potatoes, creamed corn, oil, garlic, onion (not pictured), seasoning, and frozen corn.

I start my potatoes first - they take a while to cook and there's no disadvantage to having them ready ahead of time.  I'm using small red new potatoes because they cook quickly, you don't have to chop them and I mash them with the skins on, so it looks prettier.

Clean potatoes, dump them in a pot, just cover with cold water, add salt (if desired) and bring to a boil, with the lid on.  Once the water has boiled set your timer (or iPhone alarm) for 15 minutes, lower the heat a touch and loosen the lid if it looks like it's going to boil over.  Drain the potatoes when the time is up, and dump them back in the pot.  Set the pot aside, you'll need these later.

In a separate frying pan, heat a little olive oil.  Just a bit, one circle motion around the pan should be fine. 

Throw in the garlic.  Oh wait, why didn't I show you whole cloves or garlic, and then me chopping the garlic?  That's because I do not, repeat - DO NOT like it when my hands smell like garlic.  I've tried all the tricks:  lemon juice, wearing gloves, rubbing my garlic-stinking fingers on stainless steel - none of it works; I can still smell the reek of garlic on my poor hands.  Soooo, I splurge and buy frozen, diced garlic that you shake right out of a little box! 

And why, why, why is there no onion?  Well I am a fan of onion, but I only had one left in the house, and when I sliced into the perfect looking onion, it was yucky, rotten and gross.  So because this is Shepherd's Pie, and you can't really mess it up too much; I just left it out.  There.

Now time for the cow portion:

Put the extra lean ground been in a frying pan you bought on clearance at Canadian Tire for 9$ (regular price 50$).  I've never actually purchased tires at Canadian Tire.  Only bought wiper blades there a couple of times, but it's a great place to buy Method cleaning products.  Not quite as much selection as Target in the US, but the prices are only slightly more.  Don't buy Method from Shopper's Drug Mart/Pharmaprix.  Way overpriced.  Now what was I saying?  Oh, right, meat.

Brown the meat for a while, give it a stir once in a while.  I have to make a note here, you could ues ground chicken or ground turkey, and I have done that - but it looks pale and weird.  So if you're going that route, use something to give it some colour.  Like BBQ sauce.

Here's where I've added Montreal steak spice.  You can season the meat any way you like it.  Not sure why I chose this . . . *sigh* I miss Montreal.  Stir your meat some more.  Cover with a wire mesh splatter screen, it'll save you some clean up later.  Relax.  It's just shepherd's pie.  Take a break, have a sip of something cool . . .

I bought this splatter screen at IKEA for just a few dollars, and I wish I had a few of these.  Maybe even one for the tent-trailer.  But IKEA likes to discontinue my favourite things.  So there's a new model now, that I don't like even half as much.


At this point you need to drain the meat.  I just used a slotted spoon to transfer to a glass baking dish.

Empty the whole can of creamed corn on the meat, smooth it out (because creamed corn isn't smooooth enough already)

Now here's where I went wild and crazy!  I added frozen corn.  I know it's sheer madness to add more corn, when I could have added peas, but that's how I roll.

Do you own a stand mixer?  I got one this summer, it's a very early birthday gift.  It's cornflower blue, and only this colour was on sale.  I never thought about making mashed potatoes in it, until I read the instruction manual.  Now I can't remember doing it any other way.  I would recommend when you are mashing new potatoes to give them a preliminary mash with a handheld potato masher, or one or two of these rascals, may or may not jump from the bowl to the floor.  Trust me on this one.  I use milk and a bit of butter in the mashed potatoes.  I leave the skins on.  Make 'em how you like 'em.

On go the potatoes . . .

Smooooth 'em out . .

Sprinkle with paprika, just for fun, and bake for 45 minutes or so, in a 400 degree (F) oven.  Now's the time to either clean everything up, or check on your Facebook friends and read celebrity gossip.  I, of course, chose to clean the kitchen, right!?!

Take it out of the oven and let it rest for a few minutes, then serve it up, and marvel at your culinary expertise. 

So how do you make your Shepherd's Pie?


  1. Mmmm.... Love shepherd's pie. Fun instructions. Mine's a little different and it tastes exactly like the one at McKibben's.
    If I run out of peas I use corn but since corn is a starch like potatoes I prefer the peas because we eat lots! I always double the recipe and put one in the freezer uncooked and bake when I need it for an hour. I always use mashed potatoes from a day or so ago. I look forward to reading a new post.

  2. Mmmm... that looks good! I like to sneak as many extra veggies into mine as possible, so I cook the meat with red peppers and mushrooms. I then use frozen corn, and instead of potatoes, I use mashed yams (like sweet potatoes, but with reddish skin) mixed with some sour cream. A favourite around here...

  3. The next time I make shepherd's pie I may top it with pureed cauliflower.

  4. Pureed cauliflower sounds intriguing! INvite me over when you do that. I couldn't get away with it with my picky eaters, who also don't like peas, btw. The heathens.

  5. Your Mum has gone to the dark side and uses corn and peas, now. I sometimes but President's Choice Blue Menu shepherd's pie with cauliflower topping and you don't really taste it. I've also topped mine with equal amounts of mashed potato and cauliflower. All yummy.