When I was in third year, we were required to take a course in restaurant management as part of our Applied Human Nutrition program. This involved picking two specials for the day, plus a soup and dessert, and following the regular menu. And then we had to do all the advertising, schedule people for different jobs for the day, do the prep for it, and then manage the whole thing on the day. It was insane and it was exhausting but it was pretty cool. This is all at PJ’s at the University of Guelph. If you’re there, go check it out. Totally worth it.
The point of that little side bar was that one of the specials we made was shepherd’s pie. We went through several variations on this before settling on the version we used, which is not the one I used when I made this last week. Our first version has canned tomatoes and was seriously underseasoned. So obviously we froze the leftovers to eat later. Our second version still had the tomatoes, but we doubled the spices and herbs. We might have tripled it. It was explosive. That was also changed. But first we froze the leftovers. Our final version had no tomatoes, but we added peas (ew peas) to the corn and carrots and beef, and there was a gravy type sauce on the meat. We also used a sweet potato mash since we had to make it for a standard menu item anyway. And it was all great. And then for the rest of third year, every time I didn’t have time to make lunch or was running late, I would grab one of those frozen pies out of the freezer and take it to campus. And even being absurdly excessively seasoned, or absurdly underseasoned, they were always awesome. Because it’s shepherd’s pie and it’s always great.
For this version, I also used a sweet potato mash for topping. Using half sweet potatoes and half Yukon golds keeps the structural integrity of regular mashed potatoes, with the taste and colour of the sweet potatoes. I chose pork because right now, in my local grocery stores, lean ground pork is cheaper than any other ground meat. I also used frozen carrots and corn. There’s a common misconception that using frozen fruits and veggies is somehow less healthy than fresh. This is not the case, unless there’s been anything salty or sugary or fatty added to them as well. So use the frozen veggies if this is more convenient. And if you’re concerned about what’s in them, freeze them yourself.
This recipe makes 6 servings, and leftovers reheat well in the oven or microwave. Serve with a green or kale salad.
- 2 large sweet potatoes
- 2 large Yukon gold potatoes
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 small onion (roughly 1/4 cup chopped)
- 1 large clove of garlic
- 1 lb lean ground pork
- 2 cups frozen corn kernels, defrosted
- 1 1/2 cups frozen carrots, defrosted (diced or rounds or whatever makes you happy)
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp thyme
- 1/2 tsp sage
- 1 tsp basil
- 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Dice the potatoes and bring to a boil. Cook until soft enough to stick a fork through easily (roughly 30 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside.
- In the meantime, mince the garlic and dice the onion. Cook in a large non-stick skillet on medium heat for 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft and translucent.
- Add the pork and cook until it is completely brown. Add the corn and carrots, as well as the spices and worcestershire sauce.
- Cook for 10 minutes or until all veggies are heated through.
- Mash the potatoes with a masher or beaters. Add the sour cream and mash until everything is combined.
- Transfer the pork mixture to a medium casserole dish. Spread to make an even layer. Top with potato mash and it out.
- Bake for 20 minutes.