A foodie's quest to turn up the heat through strength and conditioning with whole food and a hungry mind.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

What’s For Dinner? Try A Pie!

Yep, that’s right, pie. Are you visioning a slice of pumpkin, blueberry, pecan or chocolate pie sitting on your dinner plate right now? Well, clear your vision of the sweet stuff and think of a savory meat pie filled with veggies and a mashed potato crust. Maybe you’re familiar with the simple Shepherd’s or Cottage Pie which consists of chopped meat, mixed veggies, and layered with mashed potatoes.

The Shepherd’s Pie got its name because the original recipe used minced mutton (adult sheep), which is commonly associated with the shepherds that herd the sheep. Cottage Pie traditionally contains other meats like poultry, beef, rabbits, etc, but Shepherd’s Pie is the dominate name used for either variation today. The recipe was created as a means to deal with the wealth of sheep in areas of England. Mashed potatoes were used as the layer (instead of pastry dough for Pot Pies) as a means to use leftovers.
Now that you have some history on this savory meat pie, would like some ideas on how to make it? The beauty of preparing a shepherd’s pie is its simplicity because you can use leftovers. So cook some extra ground beef, diced chicken, shredded turkey, or hearty beans (for the vegetarian) along with extra mashed potatoes to save and use when ready. There are many ways to make and enjoy a shepherd’s pie, and quality mashed potatoes can make or break the meal. I’ll start with a good and healthy mashed tater recipe I use.

Healthy Mashed Potato Recipe

Ingredients: Serves 4

- 2lbs Russet, Red, Sweet, or Gold potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled, cubed in 1 1/2 in chunks; use whatever you like best, they’re all good
- 1/4 Cup Reduced Sodium Chicken Stock or Broth
- 2 T Non-fat, Plain or Greek Yogurt
- 3 Garlic Cloves, minced; if you don’t have garlic, 3 teaspoons of garlic powder will work
- 2 t Paprika
- 1 t Cayenne Powder
- 2 T Dried Parsley
- Sea Salt and Pepper


1. Place potatoes in a large heavy pot and cover with cold salted water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, until tender (should slide off a fork when pierced), 10 to 15 minutes.

2. While potatoes are boiling, heat a small sauté pan and roast the minced garlic until slightly brown and fragrant.

3. Drain the potatoes and return to the pot off the heat. Mash potatoes with chicken broth and roasted garlic. Add more broth if needed to make desired consistency. Stir in yogurt, paprika, cayenne, parsley, and season with salt and pepper. Be creative here, I sometimes add cumin for a great smoky flavor or wasabi and ginger powder for some Asian flair.
So, you have some tasty mashed potatoes, what now? Use whatever meat and veggies you have leftover from a previous meal or just cook something fresh if you want. I’ll post what I typically use in my meat pie recipe, but like I said, change it up and use whatever’s on hand or just sounds good to you.

Shepherd’s Pie

Ingredients: Serves 4

- 1 pound cooked ground beef or mutton or diced, ground, or shredded turkey or poultry; 1 (15oz) can of beans for the vegetarians
- 1/2 large onion chopped
- 1 1/2 to 2 lbs mashed potatoes
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp of celery seeds
- 2 medium stalks of Celery, chopped
- 3/4 cups coarsely chopped carrots
- 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 t Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 1 T chopped rosemary
- 1 T Cumin powder
- 1 1/2 t Cayenne Powder
- 3/4 tsp of white pepper
- Salt and Pepper
- Parsley


1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
2. Heat a non-stick saucepan on medium-high heat and sauté the chopped onion and garlic
3. Add protein of choice, celery, carrots, peas, and stock.
4. Cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes.
5. Stir in the worcestershire sauce, herbs and spices. Add salt a pepper to taste.
6. Cover and cook the mixture for 10 to 15 minutes.
7. Reduce the heat to low.
8. Cook on low heat only until mixture has thickened.
9. Coat the interior of an 11" x 8" baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
10. Layer the pie base into the baking dish and top with mashed potatoes.
11. Place uncovered in pre-heated oven and bake for 30 minutes or until potatoes turn a light brown.
12. Garnish the top of the shepherd’s pie with parsley and paprika.
13. Serve and enjoy!
If using sweet potatoes, turkey goes very well as a protein choice. This is also a great idea for a Thanksgiving or Christmas meal which combines everything into one dish. If you can’t wait 30 minutes for your pie to cook in the oven, you can cook the mixture a little longer in the saucepan, add to baking dish, layer with mashed potatoes, and just put under broiler for 5 minutes to get a nice toast on top.

I love trying new combinations in an easy to follow recipe such as this one. Kelley always gets excited when I just mention the words “Shepherd’s Pie,” and I’m always happy to please! So whether you wind up with leftovers you need to use, or just feel like starting from scratch, give a pie for dinner a try….I think you’ll like the result. And remember, for a little extra spice, Just Add Cayenne! Nope, the corniness still hasn’t gotten old quite yet.

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