I have made shepherd’s pie dozens of times. In my early years of cooking…that would be two years ago now…I used boxed potatoes. That was partly to save time and partly because I didn’t want to go through the rigmarole of peeling and prepping potatoes.
Years later, I realize how simple prepping potatoes can be and I now make my own. Not only because I can, but also due to my newfound desire to reduce the amount of processed food I eat. This extends to canned goods and boxed goods…I try my best to make my own ingredients, rather than buying pre-made, pre-processed crap.
And so, my shepherd’s pie has gone through a few versions over the past little while. My “classic” version can be found earlier in this blog….“No, not Shep Pie….Shepherd’s Pie! Shep-HERD!”
Recently I decided to try to mix things up a bit. The result was…um…interesting 🙂
Typical beginning….sauteeing some onions….
I sautéed an onion in oil along with a couple of garlic cloves.
While the onions did their thing…which included simply smelling good (is there anything better than the smell of slow cooking onions??)…I peeled and chopped up my potatoes…..
Yep…sweet potatoes! 5 of them to be exact
That’s right…I decided to go with local Ontario sweet potatoes to see how they would play with the flavour of shepherd’s pie. I always slice them into 1/2″ rounds as I find they cook that much faster! Boiled them for barely half and hour and they were tender….
Added a dollop of butter and mashed them…very cathartic that is…mashing 😉
Once the onions were tender, I added the meat…this time, rather than my typical beef, I decided to try ground pork.
Added 2 lbs of ground beef to the mix!
Browned the meat completely. As it cooked, I added Italian Seasoning (a mix of thyme, oregano and basil), a splash of soya sauce and Worcestershire sauce, as well as a bit of cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. It was at that point that I realized a) I had gotten lean ground meat and was therefore left with a lot of fat and juice and b) my pan wasn’t deep enough to hold the onions and meat, as well as the vegetables I planned to add. So I used a slotted spoon to remove the meat/onion mix from the pan and put in into a deeper pot.
Then I added my chosen vegetables…pretty simple actually…chopped celery and carrot.
I also got it into my head that I would add some tomato sauce. I was thinking perhaps that would help to hold the base together as my shepherd’s pie always seems to fall apart when I serve it.
It didn’t work…which you’ll see at the end. Grrrrr.
Once the veggies were somewhat tender and all was mixed well, I created a base layer in my casserole dish for my shepherd’s pie.
Then I decided to be creative and added a layer of corn…which…um, yeah…it came from a can. After my rant earlier about canned goods, I use canned corn. But seriously, what were my options? Use a fork and pry kernels from a cob?
All that yummy goodness…topped with sweet potatoes! And parmesan cheese!! …Obviously that part is optional, unless like me, you’re partial to yummy cheese!
I cooked these the same way as the beef version…. 400 degree oven until potatoes start to brown (about 30 minutes). Broil for last few minutes if necessary to brown further.
As I already mentioned, my shepherd’s pie tends to fall apart when I cut portions.
Not sure what I’m missing in my recipes but I remember eating it growing up and having it served almost as a slice of pie…where both layers hold themselves together.
So, experimental success??
It was good. Not spectacular, but good. I admit that I much prefer a beef base than pork and the sweet potatoes added a bit too much “sweet” to the pie. But overall, a good experiment that tasted even better the following day!
Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 onion chopped
- 1-2 cloves garlic, diced
- 2 lbs ground pork
- splash of Worcestershire sauce
- splash of soy sauce
- Italian Seasoning (oregano, thyme, basil)
- dash of cayenne pepper
- 1-2 sticks of celery, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1/3 can tomato sauce
- 5 medium sweet potatoes
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 can corn kernels
- Parmesan cheese – optional
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- Slice 5 medium sized sweet potatoes into 1/2″ rounds and put them in a pot, covering them with water. Bring to a boil and allowing to continue until potatoes are tender…about 30 minutes.
- Once tender, add 1 tbsp of butter to the potatoes and mash them. Set aside.
- Sauté onions in a dollop of oil until tender over medium heat (10 mins).
- Add ground pork and continue to sauté over medium heat.
- Spice to taste…I used a splash of Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce as well as Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and a bit of cayenne.
- Once pork is almost completely browned, add your chosen vegetables. I chose celery and carrot.
- As the vegetables tenderize, add the tomato sauce.
- Place pork mixture in casserole dish.
- Next create a thin layer of corn.
- Distribute mashed potatoes on top. Rough up with a fork so that there are peaks that will brown nicely.
- OPTIONAL: Garnish with a bit of grated parmesan cheese.
- Cook in 400 degree oven until potatoes start to brown (about 30 minutes). Broil for last few minutes if necessary to brown further.