Saturday, February 18, 2012

Riffin' on the Classics, part 2

Hi all!

Picking up where we left off, today we're going to look at my take on Shepherd's Pie (a basic dish of layered ground beef, corn and mashed potatoes). First, let's examine the history behind this fairly common classic. Turns out, if wikipedia is to be trusted, that Shepherd's Pie traces its origins to the late 18th Century when potatoes were becoming a staple food in poorer parts of England and Scotland. What we commonly know as Shepherd's Pie here was (and still is) called Cottage Pie in the UK. Shepherd's Pie was similar, but used lamb or mutton instead of beef, which makes pretty obvious sense to me! And yet, the beef version is what we know as Shepherd's Pie here in North America (well Canada at least). Even more odd is the French Canadian name for it: Pâté chinois (Chinese pie). S'il y'a des Québecois/Québecoises qui peuvent me reconter l'histoire de ce nom, ça sera bien apprécié.

Shepherd's Pie is a fairly simple classic that pretty much screams 'comfort food'. The great thing is, no one ever said you have to follow the standard model of ground beef, corn and mashed potatoes. So, being the kind of guy who always likes shake things up, I went on my own path of Shepherdspie-y goodness (that's a word, right?) I used a chorizo-onion-garlic base instead of ground beef, I added olives to the "corn layer" and instead of mashed potatoes I used mashed sweet potatoes and topped it with a layer of breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. Also, instead of using just regular ketchup, I had the evil Ketchup of Doooooom as a condiment. What is the Ketchup of Doom? Well, I'll tell you!

Ketchup of Doom (spicy ketchup)

- 1 cup ketchup (I prefer organic or at least one with lower sodium)
- 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced, seeds included
- juice of 1/4 lime

- Mix all ingredients well, preferably in a near-empty ketchup bottle with a silly hand-drawn (and possibly misspelled) label:

I think the evil-looking "e" saves it...

OK, play time's over. Now we have to actually get into the making of this tasty dish.

Shepherd's Pie à la Nick


- 1 large sweet potato, cut into chunks
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 dry-cured chorizo sausage (I like it spicy, but that's a matter of taste), finely chopped
- 1 medium onion, minced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 5 Kalamata olives, pitted and thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated
- pinch dried rosemary and/or thyme


- Place a large pot of water on to boil. Once boiling, add sweet potato and oil until fork tender (about 20-30 minutes).
- Once cooked, drain the sweet potatoes in a strainer. Place in large bowl. Add milk and butter and mash until creamy. Set aside.
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a large skillet, heat olive oil on medium-high heat. Sauté chorizo, onions and garlic until onions are soft and nearly translucent (about 10 minutes)
- In a bowl, mix breadcrumbs, Parmesan and rosemary/thyme.
- Using a (nearly) square bake pan (like the one pictured below, I don't remember the precise measurements), layer the chorizo mix, followed by the corn, then olives. Spread the sweet potatoes out for the next layer. Top with breadcrumb mixture.
- Put in oven for about 20 minutes (until breadcrumbs are golden brown)
- Serve in a bowl or on a plate with your favourite condiment!

Baked and ready to go with some Ketchup of Doom and a cold beer...

...which later became a glass of Rioja... MAGIC!

So, that's another classic given a radical and delicious makeover. Enjoy!

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