Chef Dad Makes Shepherd's Pie with Sweet Potato Crust - Sweet Potato Chronicles - Sweet Potato Chronicles

Chef Dad Makes Shepherd's Pie with Sweet Potato Crust

Drum roll, please! Another new colum­nist at SPC: Wel­come Paul Silva, aka Chef Dad. He's worked in some of Canada's top kitchens, such as Canoe, Jump and Fair­mont Royal York. He teaches at The Elliot House Restau­rant and Chef School. He's also dad to Yusef, almost three. We're so lucky to have him at Sweet Potato Chron­i­cles and I swear we didn't ask him to include our name­sake veg­etable in his debut post. He's got lots of great recipes lined up for us so watch this spot. Thanks Paul and over to you! — C.M.When my two– (soon to be three-) year old son, Yusef, was tran­si­tion­ing from baby mush to solid food, I strug­gled to fig­ure out what com­bined a bit of both. Shepherd’s Pie was some­thing I’d made for years, but never thought of cram­ming meat and veg­eta­bles into a wee one used to organic peas picked by pix­ies and pureed in a solid gold food proces­sor washed in vir­ginal spring soy water­falls (ok, so I was a bit over-wrought in the begin­ning about what I pre­pared for him).

The small twist in this Shepherd’s Pie is the top­ping – with the abun­dance of fall veg­eta­bles at our dis­posal right now, it’s a great way to inject new flavour and ele­vate it into some­thing that is usu­ally rel­e­gated to “slap-dash left­over fest” (not that there’s any­thing wrong with that, as Sein­feld would say). Bak­ing the sweet pota­toes gives it that silky tex­ture, and the egg helps to set and brown the crust.

Yusef loves the com­bi­na­tion of sweet and savoury, and while he can’t help with the cook­ing right now (I have him ear­marked for 50 lbs of potato peel­ing when he hits dou­ble dig­its in age), crack­ing eggs and wrap­ping things up in shiny alu­minum foil is some­thing that he can do, so there is hope for the day when he has to make me baby mush.

Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Crust
(Makes two 9×13×2 pans)

For the topping:

2 kg sweet pota­toes (about 3–4 large)
1 kg Yukon gold pota­toes
1 egg
pinch nut­meg
salt and pep­per, to taste

For the filling:

2 kg ground beef (or lamb or pork or com­bi­na­tion)
2 large car­rots, peeled and diced small
3 stalks cel­ery, diced small
200 grams white but­ton mush­rooms, diced small
2 white onions, peeled and diced small
1 red bell pep­per, diced small
1 green bell pep­per, diced small
3 cloves gar­lic, minced
200 ml tomato puree or sauce
2 ½ table­spoons cumin
2 tea­spoon paprika
¾ tea­spoon cin­na­mon
2 table­spoon Worces­ter­shire sauce
100 ml water or low sodium chicken or beef broth
6 table­spoon veg­etable oil
salt and pep­per, to taste

Top­ping Method

Pre­heat oven to 375 degrees

Wrap sweet pota­toes in alu­minum foil and prick with a fork sev­eral times. Place on bak­ing sheet lined with parch­ment paper or alu­minum foil and bake for approx. 1 hour– 1 ½ hours, or until ten­der. Let cool before han­dling.
Here they are in their space­suit blankies.

In the mean­time, peel and cut the pota­toes into 1 ½” cubes and place in cold, slightly salted water. Bring to a boil and sim­mer until pota­toes are cooked through, about 30 min­utes. Drain in colan­der and break up gen­tly with wooden spoon to allow steam to escape (this will keep the pota­toes from get­ting gluey when mashing).

Peel the sweet pota­toes (watch — they still might be hot) and place in a bowl. Add the pota­toes. Mash with hand masher (get those frus­tra­tions out!) and sea­son with salt, pep­per and nutmeg.

Add the egg and quickly incor­po­rate to avoid scram­bling the egg. Cover with plas­tic wrap until ready to use (do not let cool too much, or it will be dif­fi­cult to han­dle later).

Fill­ing Method

Com­bine the meat with 1 ½ tbsp cumin, 1 ½ tsp paprika and ½ tsp of the cinnamon.

Let sit for 10–30 minutes.

In a large sauté pan or pot, heat 1–2 tbsp of the veg­etable oil over high heat until shim­mer­ing. Add a quar­ter of the meat mix­ture and break up while brown­ing the meat. When it is cooked (about 2 — 3 min­utes), drain in a colan­der. This will elim­i­nate any excess fat and water from the meat. Wipe out the pot and repeat, until all the meat has been cooked and drained.

In a clean pot large enough to hold all the veg­eta­bles and meat, heat 3 tbsp of the veg­etable oil over high heat. Add the car­rots, cel­ery, mush­rooms, onions, pep­pers and gar­lic. Stir with wooden spoon until the veg­eta­bles are soft­ened, about 5 min­utes. Do not brown them.

Just look at all those won­der­ful veg­eta­bles, full of life-giving vit­a­mins and min­er­als that deft lit­tle fin­gers will find a way to pick out.

Add the tomato puree, water/stock, remain­ing cumin, cin­na­mon and paprika pow­ders and Worces­ter­shire sauce. Add meat and stir to com­bine every­thing. Bring to a boil and reduce to a sim­mer. Sim­mer for 15 min­utes, or until most of the liq­uid has evap­o­rated (you want to leave the mix­ture a lit­tle moist). Sea­son with salt and pepper.

To assem­ble:

Remove from heat and divide meat mix­ture into two 9×13×2 pans.

Using a pip­ing bag, pipe the top­ping mix­ture on top of the meat mix. Note: if you don’t have a pip­ing bag, feel free to use a spat­ula to spread out the potato mix. It will be a bit trick­ier, as it will want to stick to the meat, so it won’t nec­es­sar­ily be a tidy, but hey, it’s Shepherd’s Pie! No Picas­sos need apply).

Place in oven (still at 375F) and bake for 25–30 min­utes. The mix­ture should be bub­bling a bit, and the top­ping start­ing to lightly brown.

Remove from heat and slap any hands that try to take a big spoon­ful out of it before meal­time (unless it’s the chef – she/he are sim­ply “tasting”)

Chef Dad tip 'o the day: Buy a pack­age of cleaned gar­lic cloves (inex­pen­sive) and puree them with a lit­tle bit of veg­etable oil until smooth. Then put 1 to 2 table­spoons of the puree in small snack bags and freeze. When a recipe calls for gar­lic, just defrost for a sev­eral min­utes and use!


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