Champagne at the Table: Sichuan-Style Shepherd's Pie – fatcork
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Champagne at the Table: Sichuan-Style Shepherd's Pie

Welcome to Champagne at the Table, where we bring you monthly seasonal fair to pair with your fatcork bubbles. Whether you're sipping alongside a spicy curry or snacking on some coveted caviar, there's always a place for Champagne at the Table.

Vadin-Plateau Ovalie

Starring a distinct, understated elegance, this straw-colored Champagne will be one you come back to again and again. At first sip, complex aromas of gingerbread, tobacco and leather intrigue the senses. Earthy notes of chanterelle upfront give way to warming flavors of vanilla bean and toasted spices. Ovalie’s solid character is presented with beautiful structure and a rewarding balance of roundness and freshness. 

Yann Vadin, the 9th generation of his family to lead Vadin-Plateau, has become one of fatcork’s favorite producers. Vadin’s innovative spirit informs a beautiful collection of cuvées that highlight interesting grape varieties; specific plots of terroir; and unique, nuanced flavors. We think Vadin-Plateau’s Ovalie cuvée is particularly special. The name itself has a double meaning. While Ovalie pays homage to its unique process of vinification in concrete oval casks, it is also the French name for the ball used in rugby, a sport that Vadin played competitively during his years studying in Bordeaux. This playful duality paired with low dosage and maturity imbued by four years on the lees makes this food-friendly Champagne seriously fun to drink and a welcomed addition to any table. 

Sichuan-Style Shepherd's Pie

Fall is here, and we’re welcoming the opportunity to snuggle into quiet evenings at home featuring candles, cozy blankets, golden bubbles (of course) and bold, spicy flavors that warm our bodies and our hearts. We love Vadin-Plateau Ovalie’s dry, blend of chardonnay and pinot noir paired with the audacious flavors of Marion Grasby’s Sichuan-style shepherd's pie.  A Thai-Australian chef and food journalist, Grasby is known for her bold, brave dishes that brilliantly blend the cultures of her heritage, and this dish is no exception. Though it packs a flavorful punch, this easy-to-execute recipe uses many ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. Even with a quick trip to the grocery for gochujang, a spicy fermented chilli bean paste, this fiery, gingery spin on a cool-weather classic will give you that extra dose of hygge you’ve been waiting for all summer long. 

Paired with Vadin-Plateau Ovalie, the dish rises to new heights. Rich earth notes, courtesy of the Champagne, elevate the grassy and pastoral flavors of the ground lamb, while the cuvée’s chilly, effervescence is a welcome reprieve from mouth-warming, spicy chili bean. Ovalie’s fresh acidity is also a beautiful contrast to the pie’s browned, bubbly cheese. 

This dish was made for swapping: Switch out ground lamb for beef or turkey, or choose a gluten-free soy sauce for your friends with allergies or food intolerances. However you choose to prepare this recipe, be sure to put on your cozy pants and pop open that Ovalie—the perfect set-up for the ultimate night in.


  • 1.2kg (2.6 lb) potatoes, peeled 
  • 100g (3.5 oz) butter 
  • ½ cup coarsely grated cheese 
  • 1 egg yolk, whisked
For the Sichuan meat sauce:
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil 
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped 
  • 1 onion, finely chopped 
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped ginger 
  • ¼ cup gochujang paste (spicy fermented chili bean paste)
  • 800g (1.7 lb) ground lamb
  • 2 large tomatoes, finely chopped 
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce 
  • 2 tsp dark soy sauce 
  • 1 cup chicken stock 
  • 1 tsp sugar 
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 2 tbsp water 

  1. For the Sichuan meat sauce, heat the vegetable oil in a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, onion and ginger and stir-fry for a couple of minutes. Add the gochujang paste and stir-fry for another couple of minutes. Then, add the lamb and stir-fry until almost cooked. 
  2. Add the tomatoes, soy sauce, dark soy sauce, chicken stock and sugar. Stir until well combined. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. 
  3. In the meantime, cook the potatoes in boiling salted water for 10-12 minutes or until tender and cooked through. Drain and place in a large bowl with the butter. Season with extra salt. Mash until smooth. Then, stir through the cheese. 
  4. Preheat oven to 360° F
  5. Stir the cornflour mixture through the meat sauce. Simmer for another minute or until thickened slightly.  
  6. Spoon the meat sauce into a large 4-cup capacity casserole dish. Top with the cheesy mashed potato. Brush the potato with the egg yolk. 
  7. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes or until the potato tops are golden.

Bon appétite! 

Recipe via Marion's Kitchen

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