December 4, 2017

A Twist on the Classic Shepherd's Pie

A favorite from our childhood days, now my kids relish this pie. Over time, I have experimented with different seasonings and ingredients, this version is a culmination of them all. The vegetarian version with mushrooms has been a hit among my friends. Leftovers taste even better!


For Meat Layer
Minced chicken / turkey - 1 lb.
(If using minced lamb or beef, marinate in 2-3 tbsp. of yogurt and 1 tbsp. steak seasoning for 1 hour in refrigerator)
Crimini mushrooms - 1 8oz box, sliced
(Vegetarian version - skip the meat and add 2-3 more boxes of crimini mushrooms)
Leeks - 1 large or 2 small
Garlic cloves - 3 large or 5 small
Chopped red onions - 1 1/2 cup
Vegetable oil - 2 tbsp.
Dry oregano - 1 tbsp.
Steak seasoning - 1 tbsp.
Red chili flakes - as per taste
Red wine vinegar - 2 tbsp.
Worcestershire sauce - 2 to 3 tbsp.
Mustard aioli - 1 tbsp.
(any brand will do, I used Trader Joe's)
Garam masala - 1 to 2 tbsp.
Grated nutmeg - 1 tsp.
Salt to taste

For Veggie Layer
English peas - 1 10oz pkt. (or 2 cups)
Carrots - 3 medium
Crushed black pepper - 1/2 tsp.
Salted butter - 1 tbsp.
Vegetable oil - 1 tbsp.

For Potato Layer
Yellow gold potatoes - 5 to 6 medium size (boiled and peeled)
Sour cream - 1/2 cup
Sharp cheddar cheese - 1/2 cup shredded
Herbs like fresh parsley or garlic chives - 2 tbsp. chopped
Salt to taste

Grease any pie dish of your choice with butter. I used a rectangular glass baking dish. Preheat the oven at 350 deg.

For Meat Layer
Slit the leeks in half and clean them. Slice into thin half rounds. Clean and slice the mushrooms. Chop the garlic.

Heat the oil in a skillet or a pan. At medium heat, sauté onions, leeks and mushrooms. Add dry oregano, salt and let them caramelize. Add chopped garlic, red chili flakes and steak seasoning and saute. Pour 1 tbsp. of red wine vinegar and scrape the caramelizing leeks from the bottom of the pan into the mushroom and mix.

Add the minced turkey, salt and the Worcestershire sauce. Mix well and sauté on medium fire. As the turkey cooks, keep sautéing. Add mustard aioli, garam masala and nutmeg. Mix well.

Add the remaining red wine vinegar to scrape the bits sticking to bottom of the pan into the meat mixture. Adjust salt as needed. Sauté until all liquid is evaporated. Switch off and let it cool for 15 minutes.

Scoop the meat mixture into the baking dish and press to form the base layer of the pie.

For Veggie Layer
While the meat is cooling, wash the peas and carrots. Slice the carrots into rounds.

Heat butter and oil in the pan after scooping out the meat. Add the peas and cook covered on low fire until tender. Add carrots, crushed pepper and salt to taste. Once cooked, spread on top of the meat mixture in the baking dish.

For Potato Layer
Put all the ingredients into a bowl. Mix with a large metal spoon to mash the potatoes coarsely into the cream. I like the potatoes on the chunkier side, so I leave a few pieces here and there.

Spread the potato mixture evenly on top of the veggie layer. Using a fork, create a cross-hatch pattern with small peaks.

Bake until golden for 30-40 minutes. Serve warm with French baguette slices and butter.

Note: Vegetarians can add sliced and diced portobello mushrooms instead of the meat. Use extra leeks with the mushrooms.