Maison Publique Shepherd’s Pie

This is my version of shepherd’s pie. I thought it would be cool to make this dish into an actual pie, since the original can be a bit of a one-trick pony as far as texture is concerned. I decided to make mine with pork instead of the traditional beef just because I like pork more, but feel free to use beef or lamb. The addition of the sweetbreads, bacon and foie gras is really to gild the lily and push the dish into meat juggernaut mode.

– Chef Derek Dammann (Executive chef of Montreal’s Plateau gastropub Maison Publique, which he co-owns with Jamie Oliver).

Number of servings : 12 hungry people

Prep time: 6 hours

Cooking time: 1.5 hours

Type of meal : | Main Courses | Main Courses

Special diet :


For the pork shanks:
1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
2 bone-in pork shanks (about 2 ½ lb/1.25 kg)
4 cups (1 L) chicken stock
2 cups (500 mL) strained tomatoes (passata)
Reserved stems from summer savoury (see below)

For the pastry:
1 lb (500 g) cold, unsalted butter cut into 1-cm (0.5-inch) cubes
4 cups (1 L) all-purpose flour
4 tsp (20 mL) sea salt
1/2 cup (250 mL) chilled water (or as required)

For the pork filling:
2 tbsp (25 mL) unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup white mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 lb (500 g) ground pork
1 medium russet potato, peeled and coarsely grated
½ cup (125 mL) dry white wine
1 tsp (5 mL) chopped fresh summer savoury
½ tsp (2 mL) ground cinnamon
¼ tsp (1 mL) ground cloves
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
For the garnish:
¼ lb (125 g) raw foie gras, cut into pieces the size of loonies and kept cold
Sea salt, to taste
¼ lb (125 g) smoked bacon, diced
½ lb (250 g) raw veal sweetbreads, peeled and cut into pieces the size of loonies
2 shallots, finely diced
3 cups (750 mL) lightly packed baby spinach leaves
1 cup (250 mL) frozen corn kernels
1 cup (250 mL) frozen peas
¼ cup (50 mL) maple syrup
¼ lb (125 g) smoked ham, diced
2 tbsp (25 mL) sherry vinegar
2 tbsp (25 mL) lemon juice
2 tbsp (25 mL) finely chopped chives
Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 2 tsp/10 mL water)
For the mashed potatoes:
6 russet potatoes, peeled and cut lengthwise into quarters
½ cup (125 mL) warmed whole milk
¼ cup (50 mL) cubed unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ tsp (4 mL) sea salt
A pinch of white pepper
Half a pinch of nutmeg

Equipment: A piping bag with a large tip.


  1. To braise pork shanks: Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed sauté pan over medium-high heat; sear shanks on all sides until browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Add stock, passata, summer savoury stems, and enough water to cover shanks, if necessary. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer, turning once, until tender, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Transfer shanks to plate and let cool enough to handle. With fingers, or using fork, shred meat and set aside. Discard bones, gristle and any remaining cooking liquid.  
  2. To make pastry: Place the butter, flour and salt in food processor; pulse until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Transfer mixture to bowl and drizzle in water, mixing with your fingertips until it starts to come together. It is important at this point not to overwork the dough or it will be an elastic mess and lose its flaky texture. Bring the dough together into 4 discs; wrap each in plastic wrap and let rest in refrigerator. 
  3. To make pork filling: In a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, heat butter until it has melted and starts to foam. Add onion and garlic and sweat until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook until they give off a bit of liquid, then until that liquid has evaporated and the mix is sizzling again, about 3 minutes. Add pork and sauté, breaking up with spoon, until it’s cooked through and starts to take on a little colour (you don’t want it to brown completely, just to look a little tan), 4 or 5 minutes. Stir in grated potato; add wine and reduce by half, about 3 minutes. Stir in savoury, cinnamon, cloves, salt and pepper; let cool. Fold in shredded pork shank meat; set aside.
  4. To prepare garnish: Remove foie gras from fridge and season with sea salt. Heat a heavy-bottomed sauté pan over high heat and quickly brown the foie gras, turning once, for about 1 minute (you want to work quickly here so the foie doesn’t render out too much). Transfer to a small bowl and set aside. Return pan with residual foie gras fat to stovetop over medium-high heat; add bacon, allowing it to render out slightly. Season sweetbreads with sea salt; add to pan with bacon. Sauté until sweetbreads are golden brown on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes. Add shallots and cook until golden, about 2 minutes. Add spinach, corn, peas, maple syrup and smoked ham; cook, stirring occasionally, until spinach is wilted and liquid has evaporated, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in vinegar and lemon juice.  Fold in chives and cooked foie gras; set aside.
  5. Preheat oven to 400ºF (200ºC). On floured work surface, roll out two pieces of dough into 14-inch (35.6-cm) rounds. Transfer to two greased 9-inch (23-cm) round pie plates to fit base. Roll out remaining two pieces of dough to 10-inch (25.4-cm) rounds to fit the top, and set aside. Fill the pie shells with layer of meat mixture, pressing down so that it will make a nice tightly packed filling.
  6. Brush dough edges with egg wash and top with remaining circles of dough. Pinch the edges together to seal and crimp the edges to make a fluted rim. Brush egg wash over the top of the pies and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Using tip of sharp knife, cut a slit in the top of crust to make a vent. Bake in preheated 400°F (200°C) oven for 30 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350°F (180°C) and bake for another 45 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Transfer to rack for 15 minutes.
  7. To prepare mashed potatoes: Place potatoes in large pot of cold, salted water; bring to a low simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook until potatoes are knife tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and return potatoes to pot and let dry for 1 minute. Use a ricer or potato masher to mash potatoes. Fold in milk, butter, salt, white pepper and nutmeg just until combined. Cover and keep warm.
  8. To finish pie: With a sharp paring knife, cut the top off the pie, just shy of the crust edges, and carefully remove top crust. (If top crust is soft, you can cut it into sections for easier removal.) Invert and place crust on small baking sheet in preheated 350°F (180°C) oven; bake until underside is toasted and crisp, 12 to 15 minutes.
  9. Meanwhile, transfer mashed potatoes to piping bag; pipe into rosettes over exposed surface of the pies. Alternatively, use spoon to mound potatoes decoratively overtop. Gently brush with egg wash. Turn oven to broil. Watching closely, broil pies until tips of rosettes are golden brown, about 1 minute. Remove from oven and spoon garnish on top.
  10. To serve: Break the top crust into crispy shards and place them artistically on top of the mash and garnish. Fist pump as you bring your shepherd’s pies to the table, then sit back and watch your guests gently slip into a meat coma.

Note: Second pie can be frozen for later use.

Nutritional information: