Shepherd’s Pie

Please excuse the ‘lousy’ photo.  I’ve gotten much at taking photos!!

My new recipe for Shepherd’s Pie was a big hit last night with my “Taste Testers”, who call themselves my “Guinea Pigs”, but they never refuse an invitation to come over to try something new!! And, knowing I was going to have guests arriving gave me a good reason to FINALLY put away the last of the Christmas platters and bowls etc. which had been sitting on my dining room table for two weeks!!

There’s nothing quite like good, old comfort food and, for me, Shepherd’s Pie is up there on the top of the list. This’ll warm the “cockles of your heart”, so to speak. (I just looked up what, exactly, is the true meaning of  “warming the cockles of your heart”.  And it means –  it makes you happy!)

Onions, red wine and just a bit of tomato paste, among other things, gives this Shepherd’s Pie a bit of a “flavor boost”.  On top of the beef/vegetable mixture goes creamy mashed potatoes – made with lots of butter and – surprise – an egg!   So, break out your potato peeler and your oven-proof skillet, and give this recipe a try.  I believe this will end up being one of your family’s favorites!

Oven at 375 F          Bakes for about 30 minutes

                 Oven-proof skillet  or  10″ x 13″ pan        Servings – Approx. 8

Ingredients

  • 9 cups cubed (cut into 1 1/2″ pieces) raw potatoes, peeled
  • 6 Tbs. butter
  • 1/2 – 1 cup milk
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 1 BIG onion, chopped – about 1 cup
  • about 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 lb. hamburg / minced beef
  • 1 Tbs. butter
  • 2 Tbs. flour
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube (I prefer Knorr)
  • 2 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper – or – to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peas – still frozen..
  • 1 can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 2 cups FRESH breadcrumbs
  • paprika

Place the peeled, cubed potatoes in a large saucepan and add just enough water to cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, cover and lower heat. Allow potatoes to simmer for about 30 minutes – or until potatoes are easily pierced with a sharp knife.

While potatoes are cooking, prepare the meat/vegetable layer. In a large frying pan, add 2 Tbs. olive oil and cook chopped onions over medium heat until they become translucent – about 8 minutes.

++ If you have a large – covered – frying pan which is oven-proof, you’ll be able to prepare AND bake in the same pan!!) 

Add the ground beef and continue cooking until the meat is no longer pink.  ++  As long as there’s not more than, perhaps, 2 Tbs. of grease in the pan after cooking the beef, just leave it in. Otherwise, scoop out the extra with a big spoon.

Add 1 Tbs. butter and 2 Tbs. flour to the onion/beef mixture. Cook, stirring, for another 2 minutes. ++ The addition of the butter and flour helps to thicken the sauce once you add the wine and water.

Add 1/4 cup red wine, 1 1/2 cups water, 1 chicken bouillon cube, 2 Tbs. tomato paste and 1/4 tsp. pepper. ++ You shouldn’t need salt, if you’ve used the Knorr cube, but taste it and see…. add some salt if you wish.

Now add 1 1/2 cups frozen peas and the drained can of whole kernel corn. Continue cooking – and stirring – for another two minutes or so, until the mixture has thickened up a bit. Turn off the heat under the frying pan – and turn on your oven to 375 F.

Sheperd's Pie - My Yellow Farmhouse.com

Now it’s time to mash up those cooked potatoes. I like to start with a potato masher, then give ’em “the big, creamy finish” with an electric mixer. So, mash those ‘spuds’ down ’til there’s no more chunks. Add 2 Tbs. butter, 1/2 cup milk, 1 egg, 3/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper and whip the potatoes with your electric mixer.

++  If the mashed potatoes don’t seem creamy enough, continue adding milk – up to another 1/2 cup – until the potatoes are nice and creamy. 

Spread the mashed potatoes – evenly – on top of the meat/veggie mixture.

FOR THE BREAD CRUMBS – In a medium skillet, over medium heat, melt 2 Tbs. butter (I know, I know… this is NOT diet food here….) and throw in 2 cups of fresh breadcrumbs.

++ I make a bunch of fresh breadcrumbs, then put them in a zip-lock baggy in the freezer. Voila – fresh bread crumbs whenever I need them!

Turn off the heat and stir until the breadcrumbs are evenly mixed with the melted butter. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the potato mixture, and sprinkle on a bit of paprika for color.   Bake at 375F for about 30 minutes.   Enjoy!!!

Shepherd's Pie - My Yellow Farmhouse.com

Grammy Brouillette’s French Canadian Meat Pie (Also known as Tourtière) – – Filling Can Be Used as a Stuffing

 Recipe makes TWO French Canadian Meat Pies  

OR

For French Canadian Meat Stuffing – Make half the recipe. 

OR

If you prefer having extra stuffing, prepare recipe as written. Warm in a covered casserole.

 Grammy Brouillette’s French Canadian Meat Pies  – Christmas 2016   According to my sons (and my twin brother) these were the best pies yet! 

This recipe is my mother’s mother’s and has been handed down for from mother to daughter for who-knows-how long. (My grandmother (Memere in French, but we called her Grammy) was born in Quebec in the late 1880’s. She and her family moved to Boston when she was young.  Of course our family thinks our handed-down recipe is ‘The Best French Canadian Meat Pie’.. but everyone believes their family recipe to be The Best!  Today most recipes call for a mixture of ground beef and pork.  In the Old Days, Tourtiere could be made using pork, beef, rabbit or other game, or, possibly, a mixture of different meats – whatever was available.

French Canadian Meat Pie – or Tourtiere – recipes can vary quite a bit from family to family – and each family believes theirs to be the best!!  I’ve found it extremely interesting just how many variations there are between different family recipes. My mother’s family uses ground pork, potatoes, onions – plus salt & pepper.  My husband’s family only uses hamburger, onions, salt & pepper and a bit of cloves.  And an aunt on my father’s side puts crushed cracker crumbs in her meat pies instead of potatoes.  I’ve found it doesn’t matter whose recipe you follow – to me, they’re all delicious!

 “à chacun son goût” – – ‘To each his own taste”

As far as seasonings go, except for salt & pepper, most of the flavor in Grammy Brouillette’s recipe comes from the ground pork, potato and onion mixture. My mother and my Grammy never added any spices, but I like to add a bit of poultry seasoning (Bell’s). Some meat pie recipes call for a bit of allspice, cloves or mace. Feel free to add/adjust seasonings to suit your own family’s tastes. And – if you’re lucky enough to live in Quebec – you can buy Meat Pie Seasoning!

Meat Pie is traditionally served on Christmas Eve (Réveillon) and New Year’s Eve. Our family still continues that time-honored tradition, and we look forward to it every year. I usually make four pies – two for Christmas Eve and one for each of my twin sons to take home. (And this year I’m going to ‘try’ to be organized and make the pies ahead and then freeze them.)

Joyeux Noel et une Bonne Année !! 

Oven at 400 F

Ingredients & Method

  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes  (About 2 1/2 cups)
  • 2 1/2 lbs. ground pork   ++ If you prefer, substitute ground beef for ground pork. Buy 80% lean.     ++  You also have the option to use half ground beef & half ground pork.
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/8 – 1/4 tsp. poultry seasoning  – I like Bell’s.   ++  If desired, add a bit of allspice .. or a bit of mace .. or a bit of ground cloves.
  • crust enough for TWO pies – – – – – –  2 top crusts  & 2 bottoms crusts
  • one beaten egg – to spread on the 2 top crusts

– – – –

In a medium saucepan, cook the potatoes in a few inches of water until fully cooked. Once cooked. drain and mash. (Don’t add any butter or milk !!) Set aside.

In a large frying pan, cook the ground pork and onions until the pork is no longer pink and the onions have become fully cooked – perhaps 10 minutes or so. While cooking the pork and onions, break up the pork so you have crumbles and not hunks. (If you don’t have a big enough frying pan, cook the pork and onions in two batches.)

Grammy Brouillette's French Canadian Meat Pie - My Yellow Farmhouse.com

Mix the cooked, mashed potatoes in with the pork/onion mixture. Add 1 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. At this point my mother used to, using a potato masher, “mash” down the mixture a bit to incorporate the potatoes into the pork/onion mixture.

Grammy Brouillett

If you wish, at this point, add 1/8 – 1/4 tsp. poultry seasoning (I like Bell’s)… or a bit of allspice .. or a bit of mace .. or a bit of ground cloves – or any combination you chose. (Feel free to adjust salt, pepper & spices to taste.)

How easy has this been – and you’re almost done!  Divide your pie filling equally between the TWO pie-crust lined pie plates. Cover each with the 2nd crust.

Crimp the edges of the pie crust with your fingers or with a fork.

++  Here’s a video which shows you how to ‘crimp’ a pie crust.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJRY1vdCMkQ

++  If you’re feeling really creative – here’s a video showing how to make ‘fancy’ crimps!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcQGja6jpbE

Spread SOME of the beaten egg onto each crust, using your fingers (my personal choice!) or with a bit of paper towel. (This isn’t necessary, but it does give the crust a lovely, golden look!!)

Bake at 400F for about 30 – 40 minutes. The crust should be a nice golden brown and the filling should be nice and hot.   Enjoy !

++ If planning to make pies a few days ahead – –  Bake pies for only 25 minutes at 400F. Allow pies to cool.  Cover with foil and refrigerate.  To Reheat Pre-Baked Pies – remove foil. Bake pies at 350F for 30 – 40 minutes, until thoroughly heated through.

How to Freeze Prepared Pies

Below are two different directions concerning ‘freezing Meat Pies’.  One set of directions comes from my Uncle George and the other comes from my Godmother, my Aunt Yvonne – both of whom ‘inherited’ the recipe from my grandmother.

You chose if you want to cook the pies & then freeze them – or freeze them without baking them.

++ A few tips from my Uncle George – How to Freeze UNBAKED Meat Pies ++

Based on my grandmother’s directions (according to my uncle) you do NOT have to bake the pies before you freeze them!!  ++ Cover the unbaked pies with foil and freeze them.  While still frozen (but with foil removed) bake the pies at 400F degree for 25 minutes.   Then lower heat to 350F and continue to bake pies until crusts are browned and pie(s) are heated through.

++  A few tips from my Aunt YvonneHow to Freeze PRE-BAKED Pies ++

++ If planning to freeze the pies, bake them for only 25 minutes at 400F.   Allow pies to cool, then cover with foil and place them in the freezer.

++ To Reheat – Allow pies to thaw in the refrigerator, then bake (with foil removed) at 350F for 30 – 40 minutes, until thoroughly heated through.

Enjoy – – Bon Appetit !!

Grammy Brouillette's French Canadian Meat Pie - My Yellow Farmhouse.com