Not Commander Shepard’s Pi


Happy Pi Day!

Hey, I still have a half hour before the day is officially over, give me a break! That’s what I get for not planning ahead.

Anyway, I’d love to post about a sweet pie instead of a savory one, like I did last year with Yoder’s Peanut Butter Cream Pie. But I’ve been meaning to post this for a long time now, and what better day than today!?

This isn’t a weekly meal for us. It usually gets made when I’m bored of the regular menu and I have all the ingredients laying around. You know that situation. It’s like the cooking equivalent to the planets and stars aligning. Don’t get me wrong, this would make an awesome weekly Sunday dinner, but I just never plan for it.

I never even used to make Shepherd’s Pie. The first time I ever made it was after I watched Nadia G make it on Bitchin’ Kitchen. Unfortunately, I never had all the ingredients at the same time for her version, but I have to thank her and her Shepherd’s Pie recipe for giving me the inspiration to make mine!

And if you’ve never seen Bitchin’ Kitchen on the Cooking Channel: Seriously?! It’s the best cooking show you can watch. You’ll wonder what you’ve been doing with your life!

Now, I don’t usually show my nerdy side as much as I should, but I’ve posted a Shepherd’s Pie recipe on a blog before.

A video game blog.

Scratching your head? Wondering what a Shepherd’s Pie has to do with gaming?

Well, the good folks over at EZ-Mode Unlocked let me post on their blog when I have something to talk about in the gaming world. And at the time, Mass Effect 3 – the third installment of one of my favorite franchises – was released the day before the post was published. In case you don’t know, Mass Effect puts you in control of Commander Shepard. So the post paid homage to the game by being a borderline fanfic about a news report covering Commander Shepard’s favorite food. I had a lot of fun writing it, and if you like Mass Effect*, I urge you to check it out so you can know all about Commander Shepard’s Pie.

Shepherd’s Pie

        1 pound ~ Ground Beef
       1 ½ cups ~ Onion, diced
1 tablespoon ~ Garlic, chopped
   1 teaspoon ~ Salt
   1 teaspoon ~ Pepper
   1 teaspoon ~ Chili Powder
   1 teaspoon ~ Garlic Powder
             1 cup ~ Sweet Peas

Creamed Corn

Mashed Potatoes

        To Top ~ Shredded Cheese & Breadcrumbs


  • While this isn’t exactly Commander Shepard’s Pie, I’m sure he’ll like this one all the same.
  • This has 3 components to it: The meat bottom, the creamed corn center and the mashed potato top. This is easier if you do the mashed potatoes and creamed corn ahead of time. I did mine a couple of hours earlier and just reheated when it was time to put it together (easier to work with when it’s heated). It also makes it easier with cleanup after you’re in your food coma.
  • If you don’t have the time, no biggie. You can have all 3 going at the same time and be alright.
  • I’m using a 9 ½ round pie dish for this. So use whatever you have around that size.
  • If you go bigger than 9 inch pans, I would recommend using at least 1 ½ or maybe even 2 pounds of ground beef. 1 pound works fine now, but any bigger and you’ll be spreading it out too thin.
  • If you have diced carrots, feel free to throw them in there with the onions.

Shepherd’s Pie or Cottage Pie as it’s otherwise known as, has always been one of those thrown-together meals.

Ok… There’s been some debate over the name of this pie.

After talking in the comments with a fellow food blogger from Australia and hearing murmurs of a commenter on Google+ voicing the differences (yes, even while I’m on Lent and fasting on social networks, I hear things), it’s quite clear that I did not do as much research as I usually do.

Even while knowing the difference of a Shepherd’s Pie containing lamb and a Cottage Pie containing beef, I was still under the impression they were just  interchangeable names for a meat pie with a potato topping. I was also under the impression that the different classifications were just older terminologies used years ago when recipes were only found in books.

As it turns out, the different names are still very much used. More so outside of the U.S., but in it as well. I’m not sure if it’s the favor of ground beef over lamb that typically happens here, but I’m sure geography has a lot to do with how loosely these pies are classified. I’m not blind to the fact that, as a whole, we’re rather reckless with respecting traditions, names and others views when it comes to food.  So I’m certain this won’t be the last time something like it happens.

Doing more research now since I’m not rushing to get the post out, I found a few interesting things:

As I said, a Shepherd’s Pie consists of Lamb or Mutton – this comes from the theory that a Shepherd is only concerned with sheep and not cattle. While a Cottage Pie consists of Beef. These are facts that I knew but underestimated.

But, if you reeeeeeally want to get technical. This pie that I posted is neither Shepherd nor Cottage. It is, in fact, a Pâté chinois! – A French Canadian version of a Cottage Pie containing ground beef layered with creamed corn and topped with mashed potatoes.

So ha! No one called that one!

If you want to get even more technical, my version also has toasted breadcrumbs on top, so it can be classified as a Cumberland Pie, which is the same as a Cottage, but with a layer of breadcrumbs on top.

See! See where getting technical gets you! Down a rabbit hole.

What all of this leads back to is the fact that I didn’t do my research. I feel as if I’ve failed you, especially since I like to think of myself as someone who fills you with all sorts of useless information.

So for that, and my lazy classification, I apologize.

With all that said, I’m still calling it a Shepherd’s Pie. Hahaha. Why? Because like I said earlier, it’s Commander Shepard’s favorite. And when you’re traveling the vast reaches of space and saving the galaxy, no one cares about the technicalities of pie names 🙂

So don’t let the name stop you. If you’ve got something that you think may go good in there, don’t be scared. Carrots, Bacon, Lamb, Sausage, Beef, Red Wine, Cubed Steak, Fish (which is called a Fisherman’s Pie, but I’m not getting into that now), Beef Stock…. It’s hard to not come out a winner every time. So go crazy with the basics of this recipe.

Speaking of recipes, let’s get our 3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197169399375105820974944592307816
406282089986280348253421170679… on:

  • Grab your favorite pan and heat up some oil. Add the onions to the pan and saute until they start getting a little color. When they’re ready, add the chopped garlic and after about a minute, the ground beef. Cook the beef until there is no more pink. You’ll probably have to drain it a few times with all the water that’s going to be cooked out of it. After you drain it the first time, add all the spices and seasoning.
  • Next, the peas. I used frozen peas so I ran them under some water so they could defrost before I put them in. So if you’re using the same type, once defrosted, add the peas to the beef and incorporate them well.


  • From there, it’s all downhill. Take whatever dish or pan you’re using, and give it a coat of cooking spray just in case. Add the beef to the pan and even it out.


  • Then add the creamed corn on top of it and even it out as well.


  • Next, plop a few mountains of mashed potatoes on top and smoosh them around.


  • Magically, you should have something that looks just like a pie! Throw some shredded cheese on top and then some breadcrumbs on top of that and it’s ready to go in the oven for about 15 minutes until it’s nice and bubbly.


  • When you see it bubbling, turn on the broiler and let it sit in there for 2 or 3 more minutes. But watch it! The broiler is like your best friend in high school that you enjoyed hanging out with but always wound up taking your girlfriends from you.

Watch it…

And that’s it! Finally, Shepherd’s Pie is on here! And on Pi Day! That’s like, coming full circle!

…There’s a Pi joke in there somewhere, but I’m too lazy right now.

*If you like Mass Effect, then you like to game. And if you like to game, you need to get over to the EZ-Mode Unlocked forum and sign up! A lot of good folks over there. And they just celebrated their podcast’s 4 year anniversary! So congrats to them!

I’m partying at the Pi Day Pie Party at Crazy for Crust today. Come party with us!



  1. Wow… this is totally different to the Shepherd’s Pie that I grew up with. Love the addition of the homemade creamed corn… in Australia, creamed corn comes out of a can and it’s completely different… more like a corn version of mushy peas with added starch! I’m definitely going to try your recipe when the weather cools down. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you for checking it out!

      As I mentioned in the previous comment, the creamed corn adds such a creaminess to the pie. And it is so easy to make! If you’ve only had the canned kind that you described, you’re in for one heck of a treat. Like I said, I never had it growing up, heck, I never had Shepherd’s Pie growing up. I was fairly deprived when it came to southern comfort food.

      How was the Shepherd’s Pie you grew up with?

      1. Well, I’m an English ex-pat living in Australia so we always had the original English version. Traditionally, Shepherd’s pie is made with lamb mince (hence the ‘shepherd’ link) whereas Cottage pie is made with beef mince. The original Shepherd’s pie I grew up with had a seasoned lamb mince layer with onions, gravy and fresh herbs, topped with creamy mashed potato but no cheese. Our cottage pie had added peas and finely chopped carrots with the beef mince. I like yours though. It’s kind of a ‘fusion’ of the two with a Southern creamy corn layer. I am totally trying that creamed corn!

        1. Go for it! The creamed corn is calling your name!

          And that’s the second time I’ve heard the shepherd vs. cottage pie comparisons. I mentioned in the post that shepherd and cottage pies are one in the same – both being a meat pie with a potato topping. I was aware of the differences but I didn’t think they were still relevant today. Are they?

          1. Haha… well, they are in Commonwealth countries in terms of cookbook recipes. I’ve never seen a Shepherd’s pie recipe with beef here in Aus or the UK, it’s always called Cottage pie… though it’s possible that home cooks use both meats interchangeably. But in terms of American recipes, I have no idea. It’s possibly an obsolete concept by now (like English spelling and various terminology!)

            1. I think that’s how I viewed it. As an obsolete concept. Thinking that there are traditionalists who still classify the pies as such, but that the general population just sees them both as meat pies with potato topping.

              I’m going to do some research and adjust the post tomorrow. Thanks for bringing it to light!

              1. Aw, I didn’t really expect you to change your post at all… haha, I do like the fact that you’ve stuck to the name regardless! 🙂 Great research… and yep, I’ve never heard of a Pâté Chinois (Chinese pâté? Weird) so I’ve learnt something today!! Thanks!

                1. Yeah, I wanted to fix it. I feel better knowing the name is clarified. That way I don’t seem *that* uneducated to new readers of the post. Haha. And yeah, I don’t care what anyone says, I’ll always call it a Shepherd’s Pie over Pâté Chinois any day of the week!

    1. Coming from Florida, I still enjoy the snow whenever it falls, so I can’t say I feel too bad for your “blessings”, haha.

      And yes, comforting is the best way to describe this. If you make it, I hope the mashed potatoes don’t remind you too much about mother nature’s gifts!

      Thanks for stopping by!

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