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I need your help

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I'm participating to a contest against about 10 chefs. I need to create an outstanding "Shepherd's Pie" Steak-corn-potatoes.

I can use any ingredient I want. A have to create a dish with three levels of ingredients so it looks like a "Shepherd's Pie"

Do you have any ideas or suggestions?? thanx
post #2 of 12
Who are the judges and what are their preferences? What is your style of cooking, how do you like to cook? I'm curious to hear about what you want to do before I chime in.
"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
post #3 of 12
When you say Shepherds Pie are we talking U.S. version or the real version?:D

The real one is not steak and potatoes it is lamb and surely the rest of the chefs you are competing against know that.
post #4 of 12
The Shepherd's Pie ( Quebec Style ( Pate chinois ) is the basic, Meat, corn, potato. I think most Chefs will use Mashed potatoes for the topping. I would start thinking outside the box, use a thin sliced scalloped potato or even a sweet potato layered on top. I would work with the topping to see what works best. The Potato topping is the top presentation. I would look at making the meat layer using a good Italian sausage combo using a few ground meats. This is also something to work on for consistency and flavor. The vegetabe in the original dish is corn or creamed corn. I would look for color with Corn, Red peppers, green peepers, diced carrots, onions, whatever...I would make sure that when you take a bit, you get a bit of every layer. This should be your imagination at its best, if you have to use a recipe, its someone elses Idea.....................Take care and let use know how your imagination and creativity turned out..........................Bill
post #5 of 12
Paul Prudhomme has several interesting recipes for shepherd's pie using all sorts of odd things, including condensed milk. Might be worth reading and trying those to see some unusual approaches.
post #6 of 12
Ed's got something of a point. Traditionally, lamb makes shepherd's pie and beef makes cottage pie. If I were competing my strategy would be partly based on that.

One thing for sure, I'd use hand cut meat, rather than commercially ground. This being the 21st Century and all, assuming you're competing with actual professionals, I'd make a composed, slightly deconstructed pie by making corn cakes and potato cakes, and "sandwiching" the meat between them. One cake flat on the plate, covered by meat (and sauce), the other cake tilted on top to form something like this: /_

Another way to use the cake idea is to make a single corn/potato cake as a sort of variation on Amish hash browns. I made that the other day as a garnish for grilled steak and wouldn't recommend if it wasn't good. I used corn meal to bind the cakes rather than whole kernels of corn, but the kernels would probably work as well or better.

For the meat I'd use a mix of lamb and beef -- with both of the meats slighlty pre-cooked -- either over charcoal to get some char, or over smoke to get some (you'll never guess) smoke. Then I'd prepare roughly as for competition chili. That is, cutting the meat into small pieces and preparing a stew. Unlike chili I wouldn't base the sauce primarily on tomato, but more on stock and beer. I would use some tomato paste as structure though -- probably starting with a pincage or perhaps even a tomato roux.

But if I did any thickening, it would probably be one of two ways: At the end with arrowroot -- it's a one-off which won't need to be held long after thickening, so you don't have to worry about it breaking; and you get the best gloss with arrowroot. Or, I'd thicken at the very beggining by adding some torn up corn tortillas not long after the liquids came to temp. It's not only another way of working corn into the dish, but probably pretty sexy for Three Rivers or wherever the heck you are.

The reasoning behind the partly cooked meat is not only to introduce some char and smoke but to nod at the origins of a dish which was created using meat leftover from the Sunday joint.

The idea of using sausage as part of the meat melange is very sound. You can bring some mature, ripened flavor mixes with sausage as well as smoke -- if that's something you can't do to the meat yourself during or before the comp. Chipotle chilies, and pimenton ehumado (smoked paprika) are two other ways of getting smoke into a dish without resorting to the polar extremes of actually barbecuing or using liquid smoke. Home made smoked salt is another killer ingredient.

Bone Shantz,
post #7 of 12
Here in the UK, we make Shepherd's pie of minced or left-over lamb. This is my family's take on the dish.

Cook some minced lamb with onions, leeks and carrots and a good beef stock with some red wine and a couple of good dashes of Worcester Sauce. Traditionally, in Scotland we add swede turnip (?rutabaga in other climes) too. When cooked, thicken some of the gravy to keep the meat/veggie layer moist, but not too wet (the rest can be thickened, if required, and used as a pouring gravy when serving). Salt and pepper to taste, on both meat and potatoes layers.

Make enough mashed potatoes (or, as we like it, potatoes and swede), with a little single cream and lots of butter.

Put meat/veggie layer in bottom of a dish - cover with a layer of mash, and make as rustic or as smooth as you like and dot with a few small dots of butter. Either put dish in the oven until browned, or stick it under the grill (?I think broiler) until top is golden.

Here Cottage pie is the same dish, but cooked with minced beef!:D

Mind you, I've seen recipes which add sweetcorn or peas or aubergine or courgette or peppers to the dish...!
post #8 of 12
I think we were typing at the same time!
post #9 of 12

Do great minds think alike? Or, do stupid minds run in the same tiny circles?

post #10 of 12
I don't know about rutabaga for cakes (adds color, bottom, sweetness, and earthiness to mashed), but is an excellent suggestion for mashed if you go that way. Perhaps parsnip is better still. It would be a good addition to mashed or potato cake. In either case, the ratio should be about 4 of potato (by weight) to 1 of rutabaga or parsnip.

post #11 of 12
I'm not sure about your minds...but this thread is making me hungry. Your suggestions sound great!
post #12 of 12
All I know is when in Ireland in a pub downing a pint of Guiness Stout and you asked for a Sheps pie made with beef, they would escrort you out or have you committed..;):D:D

You and Ishbel are right.
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