My favourite time of year is summer when I get to go back home to Canada and bring field suppers to the farmers during harvest. I come from a family of farmers and today I’m bringing supper to my brother in law as he’s combining wheat!
My brother in law’s 3,000 acre grain farm in Saskatchewan has been in the family for over 100 years and they grow wheat, peas, lentils and canola.
The farming industry in Saskatchewan is more than just an occupation; it’s a way of life that spans generations. Known as the “Bread Basket” of Saskatchewan, farming plays a pivotal role in feeding not just its own population but also countless others across the globe. The grains, pulses, and oilseeds that emerge from its fields serve as the lifeblood of the nation’s agricultural economy, contributing significantly to Canada’s export revenues.
The sun is setting over the wide open Saskatchewan prairie and the whole farming community is gearing up for some serious hard work. After a long day in the field, my brother in law is definitely going to be ready for a hearty meal, so let’s get started on this shepherd’s pie!
What better way to feed the farmers than by raiding their own garden for supplies! Was able to grab some carrots, onions and some lovely potatoes. I was surprised to see the purple skin on the potatoes and was expecting the inside to be purple as well! These have a white flesh and are called Viking purple heirloom potatoes (really great for mashing).
Prep for the Shepherd’s Pie:
Once I got everything from the garden, I came back inside to prep. Chop up the carrots into small pieces, finely dice the onion, and then wash and peel the potatoes and get them boiling in some water.
We sauté the carrots and onion with a few cloves of garlic (minced) until slightly softened. I used some local beef and sausage and got that nice and browned in the pan as well.
This all gets deglazed with some white wine, then we add tomato paste, Worcestershire, and some beef stock and let it all come together. I really like letting this sit for about 20-25 minutes, because the liquid gets absorbed into the meat and the flavour really develops here. You could also add red wine if you prefer, but I like the lightness of the white wine in this otherwise hearty dish. Bring it to a bubble, reduce, and let this come together.
The potatoes are up next: once the potatoes are soft, we just add some melted butter and a bit of milk then mash these up so they’re nice and smooth. This is all going to be spread across the top of the meat mixture, then covered with some grated cheese and popped into the oven. Typically you don’t find cheese in a shepherd’s pie, but I love the nutty crispness you get on top after the cheese gets nice and golden brown from the oven. It almost reminds me of a lasagna!
Once the shepherd’s pie was ready to go, I hopped in the gator to go deliver it! Luckily I had some company for the trip over to the field – Rosie and Olaf raced me over there. One hand on the wheel and one hand on the shepherd’s pie in the front seat, I surprisingly made it over there without spilling.
We had the rest of the family join, set up an impromptu little table, had some wine in red solo cups, and dug right into the shepherd’s pie. Moments like this make me so happy. It wasn’t just about the food – it was about the company, the stories, and the shared experiences that came together to form these awesome memories.
As I was raiding their garden to grab ingredients for this shepherd’s pie, I couldn’t help but think of this awesome cycle: I’m grabbing food from the soil that this very farmer planted, to then feed this farmer who harvests the crops that then feed us.
It reinforced the notion that food isn’t just sustenance – it’s a conduit for creating memories, forging connections, and paying homage to the farmers who dedicate their lives to cultivating the land that feeds us all.