Shepherd’s pie goes by many names. In Ireland, it’s also commonly known as cottage pie. In my native, Quebec, it’s known as pâté chinois (Chinese pie, for some odd reason). Either way, it’s always essentially the same ingredients with the same outcome – a delicious, savory and hearty meal that is easy to make and customize to your own tastes.
Traditionally, the dish is made with beef or lamb but I have never purchased lamb and haven’t bought ground beef in almost 15 years. Still, my kids and I have always loved shepherd’s pie and have missed having it. We used to buy it frozen back home but, since moving to the States, it’s been harder to find.
A Little History
The term cottage pie goes back to 1791 when potatoes were first being introduced as an edible and affordable food choice for low-income people in Ireland. Old school recipes called for using leftover meat and was topped with mashed potato as a crust, of sorts. Shepherd’s pie began being used in 1877 and, despite the terms being used interchangeably, purists explain that the new name was adopted to denote when lamb was being used as the protein (since shepherds deal with sheep and not cattle). Makes sense to me!
My way of making this is a little different than the usual because it’s influenced by the French Canadian recipes and contains ground chicken instead of ground beef or lamb. Despite the modifications, I think it’s true to the original with a slightly healthier spin. I hope you will enjoy it as much as we do. It’s a perfect savory dish for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day!
Ingredients (serves 6)
- 6 -8 medium potatoes
- 2lbs ground chicken
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- 1 onion (diced)
- 1 TBSP of garlic
- 1 bag of frozen corn kernels
- 1 (8 oz) can of creamed corn
- Soy sauce
- Splash of Kitchen Bouquet’s Browning & Seasoning Sauce
- Salt and pepper
- Optional seasonings for meat: garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder
- Paprika for on top of mashed potatoes (optional)
- Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
Preheat oven to 350F.
Sauté onions and garlic in oil until softened. Add ground chicken and whichever seasonings you’ve chosen to add.
Cook thoroughly and then add dash of soy sauce and a splash of Kitchen Bouquet’s Browning & Seasoning Sauce. This really is to taste so you will have to play around with it but I usually just add enough to be able to see that the meat looks about as brown as ground beef. Taste as you go along since both sauces will add a salty flavor.
Once fully cooked, spread the meat along the bottom of a baking dish. Add the creamed corn and corn kernels. Finally, spread the mashed potatoes evenly on top. Some people, particularly in Quebec, enjoy sprinkling some paprika onto the potatoes before putting it in the oven. It’s entirely up to you (you can always add it to half of the pie and compare!).
Put the shepherd’s pie in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until the surface begins to look golden brown. If you want, pull the pie out five minutes before it’s done and sprinkle cheese on the potatoes. Allow the cheese to melt and brown a little before taking it out.
Allow 5-10 minutes for the pie to cool and then cut and serve!