Food Talk: Shepherd’s Pie

The conversation about Shepherd’s Pie seemed to have appeared out of nowhere when we were at the Rose Garden at the Chicago Botanic Garden. It was one of those gorgeous days in September when the air was crisp and the sun was bright and warm—a sign of fall’s arrival. My friend Leena, her toddler, and I just had to take advantage of the beautiful weather and strolled around. The food talk went on for a while mainly because of the pretty distractions. We kept marveling at the beautiful flowers and sceneries, the very cool English Walled Garden, and the serene Japanese Garden. Before I knew it the image of the delicious dish haunted me for the rest of the day, into the next, until I decided to make one.

Maybe the food talk was inspired by the change in seasons, the chilly weather, or the butternut squash soup we had earlier that day at the garden’s café. No matter how the conversation came about, it was a great motivation to cook something I have never done before. One more thing to add to my recipe collection!

My version comes with a little curry and cayenne spice kick. This spice-infused meat and vegetable hot pie makes a great dinner choice during colder months.

Here’s how I prepare mine:

  • Boil three (peeled and quartered) smaller Yukon or Russet potatoes until fork tender
  • In a deep skillet add a tablespoon of canola oil and cook chopped garlic (three cloves) and onion (one) until they turn yellow
  • Brown half pound of ground beef or ground turkey in the skillet with the garlic and onion
  • Add a pinch of salt and pepper, one teaspoon of ginger powder, one teaspoon of curry powder, and one tablespoon of cayenne powder
  • Add a small bag of (thawed) frozen carrots and peas mix and chopped scallion to the meat
  • Turn the heat off
  • Mash the potatoes
  • Add one egg and two tablespoons of canola/vegetable oil to the mashed potatoes and mix well
  • Top the meat and vegetables with the mashed potatoes and place the pie into a 400F preheated oven for about 20 minutes. Broil to brown the potato if necessary.
Serve 4
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