December Daring Cook’s Challenge

December 17, 2012


For December, Andy from Today’s the Day and Today’s the Day I Cook, challenged us to make a traditional French Canadian classic- Paté Chinois. For most of us Americans this is known as Shepherd’s Pie and for the British is called Cottage Pie (unless minced lamb is used). Lots of variations were allowed, just as long as we prepared a layered dish topped with mashed potatoes.

When I was younger Shepherd’s Pie was always a simple affair: lightly seasoned ground beef topped with a can of corn and simple mashed potatoes (my Mom claims they were always real potatoes but I wouldn’t doubt it if they used instant every once in a while). All I really remember about the dish was that it took me a while to warm up to and once I started eating it, I always had to pile on the ketchup. It was always very dry- there was absolutely no sauce or gravy to the meat mixture at all. So at the prospect of this challenge I knew that I wanted to be sure to make a Shepherd’s Pie that didn’t require ketchup.

shepherds pie

Success!! This Shepherd’s Pie was awesome. I even used ground beef, which I never ever do- I’m really not a fan. The recipe calls for 85% lean, but I wouldn’t go near that with a 10-foot pole soooo I used 96%. I also opted out of using the beer since I am pregnant and thought it would be wasteful to buy a whole 6 pack for just 3/4 cup. But I bet Guinness would do well. Instead I used beef broth. Oh and I didn’t have any heavy cream, but I did have half-and-half. I thought the substitutions worked perfectly well since the results were great. The tomato paste and soy sauce increased the ‘savoriness’ of the dish, enhancing the meaty flavor. And since the recipe makes a nice sauce for the meat mixture there was no need for ketchup! A really wonderful recipe courtesy of the genius’ over at Cooks Country- thanks again guys!

4.0 from 1 reviews
  • For the Filling:
  • 2 Tb unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped fine
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped fine
  • 2 pounds 85% lean ground beef
  • Table salt and ground black pepper
  • 5 Tb all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tb tomato paste
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1¾ cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • ¾ cup beer
  • 2 Tb soy sauce
  • 2 tsp minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • For the Topping:
  • 2½ pounds russet potatoes. peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • Salt
  • 2 Tb unsalted butter, melted
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream, warmed
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  1. For the filling: Heat butter in large skillet over medium-high heat until foaming. Add onion and carrots and cook until soft, about 8 minutes. Add meat, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper and cook, breaking up meat into small pieces with wooden spoon, until browned, about 12 minutes. Add flour and tomato paste and cook until paste begins to darken, about 1 minute. Add cream and cook until it spatters, about 1 minute. Add broth, beer, soy sauce, and thyme and simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently, until mixture is thick but still saucy, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in peas, adjust seasonings, and transfer to broilersafe 2-quart casserole dish.
  2. For the topping: Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Bring potatoes, ½ teaspoon salt, and water to cover to boil in large saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain potatoes, return to saucepan, and mash potatoes with
  3. butter and cream until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Spread potatoes over filling, using spatula to smooth top (see photo at left). Brush with egg and drag fork across top to make ridges. Bake until filling is bubbling, about 15 minutes. Turn on broiler and cook until top is golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes. Serve.

adapted from Stella Singleton


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

andy December 17, 2012 at 4:58 pm

That’s very funny, I used to douse my mother’s version in ketchup too! The version I make now as an adult has much more flavour and gravy to it, though I sometimes add ketchup out of nostelgia!

Thanks for participating in the challenge and doing such a great job!


Memoria December 18, 2012 at 6:50 pm

I’ll never understand why most people from the States call this dish Shepherd’s Pie when shepherds tend to sheep aka lamb. Anyway, your Cottage Pie looks amazing and so flavorful!


Stella Singleton December 18, 2012 at 9:17 pm

I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe. It’s too hot in Phoenix to keep this in the meal rotation but it super fab to make when we get those rare chilly days. It’s also a great go-to recipe after a holiday dinner that results in lots of leftover mashed potatoes!


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