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The humble potato is really so versatile

Sometimes our favourite meals are made out of necessity, because of available ingredients at the time.  Take the humble potato, for instance. So many fantastic dishes are made with potatoes as the main: perogies, potato pancakes, potato soup … just a few fantastic suppers that rely on the potato for sustenance and stick-to-your-ribs comfort.
This week, after chatting about different ways to treat the potato, shepherd’s pie came into the discussion.

What is a shepherd’s pie without a golden, creamy topping of mashed potatoes?

We then thought of other ingredients that make shepherd’s pie awesome: good quality beef or lamb, finely diced veggies and seasoning – we’re sure that most people have their own favourite combination.

A classic British dish, it is a perfect example of what we can make out of local meats and veggies, as well as a refresher on how to make the best mashed potatoes to finish the dish.

Shepherd’s Pie
After putting the potatoes on to boil, make the filling:

  • 1-1/2 lbs of ground meat
  • 1/2 cup each finely-diced onion, celery and carrot
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • A few good pinches of kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • Worcestershire sauce, a few good shakes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup red wine

Potato Mixture

  • 6 medium-sized Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup 35% cream, hot
  • 1/2 cup milk, hot
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, in cubes
  • Salt to taste (if necessary)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 whole egg, lightly beaten

Brown the meat well in a heavy pan in a little hot vegetable oil; drain excess fat;

Add vegetables and cook for a few minutes until soft;

Season and add Worcestershire, tomato and red wine; simmer until wine has almost reduced completely;

Add about 1/4 cup of water and simmer a couple minutes, just to deglaze the pan and bring all of the ingredients together;

Scrape out into your favourite pie plate or baking dish.

Finish making the potatoes and spread atop the meat mixture:

Peel potatoes and keep them whole, if not too big, or cut in half;

Just cover with cold water; add salt and bring to the boil; turn down to a simmer and cook until fork tender;
Drain; return to pot over a low heat to steam out any excess moisture;

Mash using a hand masher, potato ricer or food mill (our new favourite gadget), add hot cream and milk and fold in butter and cheese and egg;

Taste for seasoning; spread while hot over the meat, and make small ‘peaks’ to encourage browning;

Bake in a 375°F oven for about 30 minutes, until golden brown.

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