Making Shepherd’s Pies / Paté Chinois / Cottage Pies — Photos

This week’s cooking project from my collection of recipes was a half-batch of my version of what in English-speaking Canada we call shepherd’s pies, while in French-speaking Canada, we call it paté chinois; in the UK, it would be properly considered a cottage pie.

I developed this version in the very early 1990’s after working in a summer camp kitchen, where we made camp-sized quantities of a basic version with cooked ground beef, cream-style corn, and mashed potatoes; I liked the dish but added onions, ketchup, peas, and carrots, and kept to the spirit of large quantities in order to cook for the freezer.

Note that in the text below, while there may appear to be a distinct sequence of separate steps to be taken one after the other, presented as such for the sake of the narrative, many steps were actually performed simultaneously and / or heavily overlapping with each other as given steps were finished and new steps begun. This was all the more the case given that I had performed a number of mise-en-place activities in advance: Ground beef was measured out and bagged separately, a week in advance on the day that I’d bought several packages of ground beef on sale, and before all of it was put in the freezer; potatoes were measured out, peeled, and cubed the night before the main cooking day; and carrots were prepared and sliced the night before the main cooking day.

Making the pies:

Last week, after stocking up on ground beef on sale, I set up my kitchen scale, putting a plate on the scale and setting the scale to zero:

Plate on kitchen scale and scale set to zero

I measured out two pounds of ground beef …

Two pounds of ground beef measured out

… and the ground beef was placed in a separate bag and placed in the freezer, ready for this week’s cooking project:

Measured out ground beef in a freezer bag

The night before I did the main cooking, I set a pot on the kitchen scale, and set the scale to zero:

Pot placed on kitchen scale and scale set to zero

Five pounds of potatoes were measured out:

Five pounds of potatoes measured out

The pot of potatoes was filled with water:

Pot of potatoes filled with water
Pot of potatoes filled with water

The potatoes were peeled:

Potatoes peeled

As the potatoes were peeled, they were placed back into the pot of water:

Peeled potatoes placed back in pot of water

The peeled potatoes were then individually taken out and placed on a cutting board:

Peeled potato taken out for slicing

The peeled potatoes were sliced lengthwise:

Sliced potato sliced lengthwise

… the potatoes were then cut into large cubes:

Potatoes cut into large cubes

… and the potato cubes were placed back into the pot of water as they were cut:

Potato cubes placed back in the pot of water

The water in the pot of potato cubes was drained:

Water in pot drained

Fresh water was put in the pot of potato cubes to rinse the potato cubes:

Rinse water put in pot of potato cubes

The rinse water was drained, and the pot filled again with fresh water, covering the potato cubes:

Third round of fresh water covering the potato cubes

On the main cooking day, the stove was turned on:

Stove turned on (dial on the left)

… the pot of potatoes was placed on the stove:

Pot of potatoes placed on stove

Salt was measured out:

Salt measured out

… and put into the pot of potatoes being brought to a boil:

Sat added to the pot of potatoes being brought to a boil

The potatoes were brought to a boil:

Potatoes brought to a boil

A timer was set to 20 minutes, the time the potatoes were boiled:

Potatoes boiled for 20 minutes

The night before I did the main cooking, carrots were taken out:

Carrots taken out

The carrots were cleaned and trimmed:

Carrots cleaned and trimmed

The carrots were run through a food processor with the slicing blade tool:

Carrots run through food processor with slicing tool
Sliced carrots

The sliced carrots were transferred to a pot:

Sliced carrots transferred to a pot
Sliced carrots transferred to a pot

Water was added to the pot of carrots, covering the carrots:

Water added to the pot of carrots
Water covering carrots in pot

On the main cooking day, a second burner on the stove was turned on:

Second burner on the stove turned on (dial on the right)

The carrots were put on the stove and brought to a boil:

Carrots brought to a boil

A timer was set to five minutes:

Sliced carrots boiled for five minutes

… and at this point I remembered to add salt to the pot of boiling carrots:

Salt added to pot of boiling carrots

After five minutes of boiling, the carrots were drained, and the pot was placed in the fridge to help cool down the carrots:

Carrots cooling in the fridge

On cooking day, onions were taken out:

Onions taken out

The onions were trimmed:

Onions trimmed

The onions were chopped coarsely:

Coarsely chopped onions

The onions were placed in an electric skillet:

Onions placed in electric skillet

The ground beef, which was measured out and frozen last week, and defrosted beginning the day before cooking day, was placed in the electric skillet with the chopped onions:

Ground beef placed in electric skillet with the onions

The electric skillet was turned on:

Electric skillet turned on

Salt was added to the beef and onions in the electric skillet:

Salt added to beef and onions
Salt added to beef and onions

The beef was broken up and mixed together with the onions and salt, while all the ingredients were frying:

Beef broken into smaller pieces and mixed with onions

Part way through the cooking of the beef and onions, ketchup was taken out …

Ketchup taken out

… and ketchup was added to the frying beef and onion mixture part way through:

Ketchup added to frying beef and onion mix

At this point, some oven proof baking pans were laid out:

Baking pans laid out

And once the beef, onion, and ketchup mixture was fully cooked …

Fully cooked beef, onion, and ketchup mixture

… the cooked beef, onion, and ketchup mixture was transferred to the various oven-proof baking pans:

Cooked beef, onion, and ketchup mixture transferred to the baking pans

The baking pans with cooked beef, onion, and ketchup mixture were put aside until later.

At this point, the potatoes had been boiling for twenty minutes, and the pot was drained:

Drained boiled potatoes

Margarine was taken out, and a dollop of margarine was scooped out with a spoon:

Dollop of margarine scooped out with a spoon

The margarine was added to the boiled potatoes:

Margarine added to the boiled potatoes

Salt was again measured out:

Salt measured out

And the salt was added to the boiled potatoes and margarine:

Salt added to boiled potatoes and margarine

Milk was measured out:

Milk measured out

And the milk was added to the boiled potatoes, margarine, and salt:

Milk added to boiled potatoes, margarine, and salt

The boiled potatoes, margarine, salt, and milk were mashed together with a hand masher:

Boiled potatoes, margarine, salt, and milk mashed together
Mashed potatoes

The mashed potatoes were put aside until later.

The night before, cans of cream style corn and a can opener were taken out:

Cream style corn and can opener taken out

On cooking day, the cream-style corn cans were opened, and the cream style corn was spread over the cooked beef, onion, and ketchup mixture in the baking pans:

Cream-style corn poured over the cooked beef, onion, and ketchup mixture

Frozen peas were taken out:

Frozen peas taken out

Frozen peas were sprinkled over the cream corn layer in the baking pans:

Frozen peas were sprinkled over the cream corn layer
Frozen peas were sprinkled over the cream corn layer in the baking pans

The pot of cooled carrots was taken out of the fridge, and the carrot slices were layered on top of the peas:

Carrots layered on top of the peas
Carrots layered on top of the peas
Carrots layered on top of the peas

The still warm mashed potatoes were spread on the top of the pies in the baking pans:

Mashed potatoes spread on the top of the ingredients in the baking pans
Mashed potatoes spread on the top of the ingredients in the baking pans

Freezer bags were labelled:

Freezer bags labelled

The shepherd’s pies were placed in the freezer bags, save one (top row, centre), which was covered in wax paper so that I could put it in the fridge for supper later in the day:

Casseroles placed in freezer bags

The shepherd’s pies destined for the freezer were placed in a freezer:

Casseroles placed in the freezer

Later on, when it was time to make supper, my countertop convection oven was set to 350F:

Countertop convection oven set to 350F

The shepherd’s pie which was put aside earlier was placed in the countertop convection oven:

Shepherd’s pies placed in the countertop convection oven

Once the shepherd’s pie was baked and the mashed potato top browned, the shepherd’s pie was taken out of the countertop convection oven:

Cooked shepherd’s pie taken out of countertop convection oven

And finally, the yummy shepherd’s pie was served and eaten!

Shepherd’s pie served on a plate

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