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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sheppard's Pie (Our version)

Everyone has their own take on this classic.  This is an easy weekday meal to prepare and there are usually leftovers that can be brought to the office (or school) for lunch the next day.

In France, this is called hachi parmentier and it is made with duck confit and buttery mashed potatoes (great as a weekend version when entertaining and really easy to make - I'll try to make it for the next post).

Traditionally, it is a layer of ground beef, corn and potato.  For our family, I separate the corn because I find it can overwhelm the other flavors.  By serving it this way, those who like it mixed together can easily do so and everyone is happy.

This is a homemade version of creamed corn using fresh corn (still in season) but it can easily be made with frozen corn or canned if you are really in a hurry.  The mashed potatoes are an equal combination of sweet potatoe and yellow flesh potatoes.  This adds a little sweetness and balances the dish out well.

You will need (for 4 portions)

Start by cooking the potatoes:

  • 4 medium yellow flesh potatoes, peeled and quartered (about 400g)
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut in pieces similar in size to the cut potatoes (about 400g)
  • 1/4 (60ml) cup of butter
  • 1/4 (60ml) cup of milk
  • salt and pepper
  1. Put both types of potatoes in a large pot of cold water over medium high heat;
  2. When water starts to boil, turn down the heat a little and cook the potatoes until tender;
  3. Strain the potatoes and return to the pot;
  4. Mash the potatoes with a potatoe masher and add the milk and butter;
  5. Mix well and season with salt and pepper to taste.
For the meat:  While the potatoes are cooking,  prepare the meat layer
  • 1 small onion finely diced (about 40g)
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) of oil
  • 1 lb (500g) of lean ground beef
  • 1 tsp of dehydrated veal stock diluted in 1/3 cup (80ml) of hot water (or homemade veal/beef stock if you have it - 1/3 cup (80ml))
  • 1 tbsp (15ml) of Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper
  • Butter and chopped parsley
  1. Put the oil (1 tbsp/ 15ml) in a pan over medium high heat;
  2. Add the ground beef (1 lb - 500g) and cook until the meat has coloured;
  3. Drain any fat and return the meat to the pan;
  4. Add the veal/beef stock (1/3 cup - 80ml)and let simmer until almost completely evaporated;
  5. Add the Worchestershire sauce and mix well;
  6. Season to taste;
  7. Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC)
  8. Place the meat layer evenly in a square 8"(20cm) in pan;
  9. Layer the potatoes over the meat;
  10. Dot the potatoes with a few small pieces of butter and bake in oven for 20 - 30 minutes (until the potatoes begin to colour);
  11. Sprinkle with some fresh chopped parsley and serve.

For the creamed corn:  
  • 3 ears of fresh corn, kernels sliced off the husks
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) of water
  • 1 tbsp (15ml) of butter
  • pinch of salt and sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) of cream

  • Place the corn, water (1/2 cup), butter (1tbsp), salt and sugar (pinch) in a pan over medium high heat and cover with a lid slightly ajar so that water can evaporate slowly;
  • Once on low boil, cook the corn for about 8 minutes (taste to see if it is cooked, it should still have a little crunch);
  • Put 1/4 cup (60 ml) of the cooked corn kernels in a blender with the cream;
  • Blend well and return this mixture to the remaining whole kernels in the pan;
  • Boil for 1 minute to reduce and season with salt;
Note:  if you want to layer the corn in the pie, it should be added over the meat before adding the potatoes (meat, corn, potatoes).  It is delicious served with a little fruit chutney.

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