Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Shepherd's Pie

The shepherd's pie is a variation of the commonly known Cottage pie, which refers to an English meat pie made with mince beef with a mashed potato crust. Shepherd's pie uses minced mutton instead of beef. In early cookery books, this dish was a means of using leftover roasted meat of any kind and topping it with an affordable vegetable - the potato.

I decided to re-invent this age-old recipe, taking out the unhealthy stuff and replacing it with the healthy ones and inject it with new refreshing flavors. In this recipe, I switched up the red meat with hearty mushrooms and gave the overall pie an earthy refreshing flavor with cumin, coriander and nutmeg.

Ingredients (makes one 2-liter / 2.5 qt. casserole dish):
1. 140g (or 5oz) shiitake mushrooms, sliced
2. 140g (5oz) white button mushrooms, sliced
3. 1 medium sweet yellow onion, sliced
4. 1 medium eggplant, sliced
5. 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into big cubes
6. 1 medium tomato on the vine, diced
7. ½ cup bread crumbs, dry roasted
8. 3 teaspoon tomato paste
9. ¾ cup water
10. 2 cloves garlic, mashed
11. 1 teaspoon ground coriander
12. ½ teaspoon ground cumin
13. ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
14. 1 teaspoon dried sweet basil
15. ½ teaspoon dried thyme
16. Chilli powder
17. Ground black pepper
18. Sea salt
19. 2 bay leaves

1. In a medium pot, bring a pot of water and peeled potatoes to boil. Cook potatoes till they soften enough to mash. Takes about 15 to 20 mins depending on the size of your cubes.
2. Preheat oven to 375F (190.5C).
3. While potatoes are cooking, lay sliced eggplant on an aluminium foil-lined sheet pan. Season with salt, pepper and chilli powder and bake in oven for 8 to 10 minutes.

4. While that is happening, heat up some water in a saucepan and sauté garlic and bay leaves for a minute or so until fragrant.
5. Add sliced onions, ¼ cup water, salt and pepper and cook covered 3 to 4 minutes.
6. Add sliced mushrooms and season with thyme, ground cumin, ground coriander, ground nutmeg, salt and pepper and cook covered for another 5 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
7. The potatoes should be ready by now. Dish it out into a mixing bowl and mash. Season with salt and pepper.
8. Check that the mushrooms have soften. If so, turn off heat and dish out into a bowl. If not, cook covered for another 2 to 3 minutes until mushrooms have soften. Then dish out into a bowl.
9. Using the same saucepan, heat up ¼ cup water with diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Once tomato paste has dissolved into the water, add dried basil and cook for 1-2 minutes. Turn off heat and leave sauce in the pan.
10. The eggplant should be ready by now. Remove from oven. Do not turn off oven.
11. In another pan, or shallow pot, roast bread crumbs over medium heat. Do not leave pot on the fire unattended. Shake/swirl bread crumbs in the pot constantly.
12. Pie is ready to be assembled.

Assembling pie:
1. Lay 1 layer of eggplant at the bottom of an 8-inch 2-liter casserole dish.
2. Spread ¼ of the tomato sauce on top of the eggplant.
3. Top with a layer of mushroom and onion stirfry.
4. Repeat steps 1 to 3 for another 2 times.
5. Top with mashed potatoes and bread crumbs.
6. Bake in oven for 30 mins and ready to serve!

Feel free to switch up or add other types of your favourite mushrooms such as brown crimini and portobello. I wouldn't use oyster mushrooms because of their over-powering flavor in a delicate dish such as this.

If you don't like the slightly tough skin of eggplant, feel free to peel it before slicing and baking it. It will not change the taste of the dish.

Nutritional value of this recipe
This pie serves about 4 people and the amount of calories per serving is about 210. This recipe boasts 9.6g of fiber and 7.4g of protein per serving. It is also a good source of Vitamin C (53%*) and iron (14%*).

* based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet 

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