Friday, August 28, 2009

Careless Shepherd Pie

Photos by Cynthia
"A careless shepherd makes an excellent dinner for a wolf."
-Earl Derr Biggers
What is it that is making me crave the warm, satisfying foods of fall and winter all of a sudden, rather than light, cool summer foods? Maybe celebrating 90 days of the 2009 Coastal Humidity Festival is starting to become a little tiresome, and I'm looking forward to a crisp change in the weather.

In any event, as I recently looked in the fridge and thought of what dishes to assemble from all the leftovers, my thoughts kept going to classic comfort foods like pot pies and meatloaf (meatloaf? that sounds good..).

When I saw the extra uncooked ground lamb left from the recent lamb tourtiere I decided on a classic shepherd's pie.

Well, maybe not so classic. Being still fascinated (read: borderline obsessed) with exploring potato galettes, I decided to try using sweet potato galettes for the crust of the pie.
  1. I put a classic mirepoix of chopped onion, carrot and celery into a pan to sweat.
  2. I added some chopped parsnip and a bay leaf (I love parsnip. Don't you?).
  3. When the vegetables were soft and tender I added three chopped garlic cloves and some dried thyme.
  4. After about a minute I added a pound of ground lamb.
  5. As the lamb browned I deglazed the pan with about 1/4 cup of oatmeal stout. Guinness, porter or dark beer would work well here.
  6. I added about 1/4 cup of diced celeriac and fennel, previously roasted for a celery root and fennel chowder.
  7. I added about a cup of leftover stroganoff (sans noodles, of course), and a small handful of frozen baby peas.
  8. After a healthy splash of worcestershire, the seasonings were adjusted.
  9. I dusted the mixture lightly with flour and stirred it in.
  10. I folded in about two tablespoons of heavy cream and let the sauce thicken.
Here is where the shepherd got careless.

I thought about the sweet potato crusts the same way that I have been preparing galettes as a side dish. Essentially I prepared two galettes separately on the stove top, flipping them to brown both sides, and assembling the pie in a pan with the filling in between. It was virtually unmanageable to keep the potato layers stable with all the flipping, and after some time in the oven the top crust was an uneven blend of curling potato chips.

It was Cynthia's suggestion to flip the finished pie in the end, which provided a somewhat presentable finished dish.

When I try this again (and I will try this again), I'll approach the cooking of the galettes like a conventional pie crust: layer the potato coins in the baking pan and pre-cook in the oven. Add the filling, then position the potato slices for the top crust. Bake until top is browned, and then flip the finished pie before serving.

In the end, the wolf did enjoy an excellent dinner.


  1. I have never seen a shepherd's pie like this one, it is so beautiful and elegant, and sounds tasty too!

  2. That's a different twist on a shepherds pie. It's a great one to try. Looks yummy.

  3. Damn the season, I say. My fiance and I have a Fourth of July shepherd's pie tradition. The top of this looks bee-yootiful.