Shepherd’s pie is one of my favourite comfort foods. It’s a meat-based pie with a mashed potato topping instead of a crust. In Quebec, where I lived for a good part of my life, it starts with a bottom layer of ground beef and a healthy amount of creamed corn.
In Quebec French, the dish is called “pâté chinois” – literally “Chinese pie.” In Scotland, where it probably originated in the 18th century or so, the meat would have been chunks of mutton or lamb – otherwise it would be called “cottage pie.” No matter what you call it or what ingredients are used, it’s good, honest peasant food.
Shepherd’s Pie Recipe
This recipe is an adaptation of the shepherd’s pie that a friend’s mother used to make. The carrots give colour and extra nutrients to the dish and make it just a little sweet.
2 lbs ground beef
2 medium onions, chopped finely
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
4-6 carrots, sliced into discs and boiled until just barely tender*
5-6 potatoes, mashed with butter and milk
1 400 ml can (about 14 oz) creamed corn
1-1/2 cups frozen corn
a few pats of butter to dot the top
salt and pepper, or paprika to season the crust
* Save the water from boiling your carrots to make your own broth!
1) Brown the beef with the onion and Worcestershire sauce, breaking it up into fine bits.
2) Place the meat in the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ baking pan, pressing down lightly. If you plan on freezing this dish, use either a baking dish that has a snap-on lid, or a foil pan with a lid. Label the pan with the name of the dish, instructions, and the date. The pie should be eaten within 2-3 months.
3) Layer the carrots on top of the meat. (When you drain them, you can reserve the cooking liquid for making broth.)
4) Mix the two types of corn in a bowl and then spread the corn on top of the carrots.
5) Spread the mashed potatoes over the whole dish. Dust with a little salt and pepper, or some paprika. If you are preparing the casserole for eating right away, preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC, or gas mark 6) and dot the casserole with a little butter. If you aren’t going to serve right away, cover tightly and freeze or refrigerate.
6) Place the baking dish in a hot oven with a cookie sheet underneath to catch any drips. Bake until bubbling, about 40 minutes. Broil for a few minutes if necessary to brown. If the pie has been in the freezer, thaw for 1-2 days in the fridge before baking.
Serves six generously.
- Replace the ground beef with leftover lean meat, or buy ground turkey or chicken if that’s affordable where you live;
- Add a cruciferous vegetable like broccoli to boost the antioxidant content of this casserole;
- Opt for mashed sweet potato instead of regular mashed potatoes to boost the vitamin A content of your dinner;
- Replace the mashed potato with mashed cauliflower – this will reduce the overall carbs and calories and significantly boost the vitamin C content of your shepherd’s pie;
- For the feel of mashed potato with a huge fibre boost and added protein, cook up some giant Lima beans with a little garlic and mash them for your topping.
Nutrition and Corn
With all the flap over high fructose corn syrup and genetically modified corn, this vegetable isn’t exactly the first one that comes to mind when thinking of healthy foods. At more than 600 calories per cup, corn is also not a low-calorie vegetable. But if you enjoy eating corn, please don’t eliminate it completely from your diet. You just want to enjoy it in moderation and keep in mind the higher calorie count, compared to other vegetables.
Yellow corn is a source of lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids that are associated with eye health. The American Optometric Association says these antioxidants are linked to a reduced risk of some chronic eye diseases, including cataracts and macular degeneration.
You may have been told that corn is essentially an empty-calorie food, but this is simply not true. One cup of yellow corn supplies more iron than the same amount of steak and about two-thirds the protein – with only half the fat and no cholesterol. Corn is also a source of vitamin A. Plus it supplies roughly half the vitamin B6, magnesium, and fibre you need for a whole day.
So splurge a little from time to time! Buy your corn from a local farmer who grows organic or GMO-free corn, if you can. And try to balance the calorie count for the rest of your day when you indulge in corn. But don’t write it off completely. It is still part of a healthy, balanced diet.
Original content © 2009-2017 Kyla Matton Osborne, aka #RubyWriter
Graphics adapted from a photo by cyclonebill/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
This recipe was originally published by me on Bubblews, and was inspired by an earlier article I wrote for the now defunct Yahoo Voices site.
This article was published on my food blog, 24 Carrot Diet. If you are reading this content anywhere else, it has probably been stolen. Please report it to me so I can address any copyright infringements. Thank you!