Friday, 14 December 2012

Daring Cooks December 2012: Shepherd's Pie

Our Daring Cooks’ December 2012 Hostess is Andy of Today’s the Day and Today’s the Day I Cook! Andy is sharing with us a traditional French Canadian classic the Paté Chinois, also known as Shepherd’s pie for many of us, and if one dish says comfort food.. this one is it!

So I hate mince. Well, I will eat it but I wouldn't cook with it myself and can only eat small amounts in one sitting. This I suspect all harks back to my grandmother and her boiled mince and veg, yuck. So I am always looking for ways to make traditional meals, such as chilli, shepherds pie, bolognaise or moussaka using whole chunks of meat instead. One of the variation recipes that Andy showed us was a slow cooker Irish Shepherds Pie, which used chunks of meat, so I ran with that, but I didn't use a slow cooker and I changed the ingredients slightly too. I did have to ring my Mum a couple of times to see if she agreed with what I was doing and generally she did! It was really good, I've tried vegetarian Shepherds Pie before but not a meat version and this one was a winner. I served it with steamed kale and honey roast beetroot.

Irish Shepherds Pie
(Serves 6-8)

1 ¼ kg boneless lamb shoulder or leg, cut in 1 ½ inch cubes
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 parsnip, chopped
1/2 swede, chopped
2-3 tbsp plain flour
30g chopped parsley
1 bay leaf
1½ tsp salt
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ tsp ground pepper
1l stout or dark ale
100g frozen peas, thawed
1kg russet baking potatoes
30g butter
60ml milk
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 150C.

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a casserole dish and brown the lamb. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Put a little more oil in the pan and sweat the onion for a few minutes until translucent. Then add the parsnip, carrots and swede and fry for about 5 mins until softened.

Add the meat back to the pan and sprinkle over the flour. Stir the flour in well. Add the parsley, bay leaf, thyme and enough stout to cover the meat and veg to the pan and bring to the boil. Boil for about 5 mins.

Transfer to the oven and cook for 2 hours. Check after 1 hour to see that it hasn't dried out. If it looks a bit dry add more liquid, either more stout or some beef stock.

Meanwhile, make the mash potato. Boil the potatoes for 15-20 mins until soft and then drain and mash with the butter, milk and nutmeg.

Take the stew out of the oven and add the peas. Change the oven temperature to 200C . Then transfer the stew to an oven proof dish and spread the mash on top.

Bake in oven for about 15 mins, until potatoes are browned and stew is bubbling.


  1. I like the ground beef version but this with whole chunks of meat is much better. Just one question - what is a swede?

  2. Awesome job! I love all the great veggies you packed in there, and the use of lamb, too! Looks delicious!

  3. To Todd: in the US it's called a rutabaga. A British friend sent me a similar recipe and I puzzled over that word for a while, too.

  4. If you're into French Canadian comfort food, have you tried poutine? It's French fries with cheese curds covered with a spicy chicken gravy. There are variations, but that's the classic version. It sounds disgusting, but it's sooooo good. I had read about it and tried it on a visit to Montreal a couple of years ago. It's a good thing I don't live in Quebec or I would resemble a balloon.

  5. I'm with you on the mince business, generally speaking. Except maybe chile con carne and spaghetti. Your version looks delicious.

  6. I love the way you adapted the recipes to make your own version - and I bet it was delicious. That's the awesome thing about shepherd's pie - you can make it your own and it's likely to be fantastic! :)

  7. Tim, I've never tried poutine, I've heard a lot about it though and it'll be one of the things I search out if I ever get to Canada. You can get chips and gravy here but I suspect it is nowhere near as good.

    Todd, it is indeed a rutabaga, although I had to look it up! I've never heard the word before!

  8. Thanks for participating in the challenge. I'm glad you found a version that you enjoyed and I love your spin on it. Great job!