Need a seafood alternative to the traditional shepherd’s pie? This shrimp and crab fisherman’s pie is loaded with incredible flavors and lovely enough to serve as an alternative main dish to holiday meals!
Since childhood, I thought shepherd’s pie was one of the neatest dishes. Something about the combination of meat, vegetables, and mashed potatoes seemed so comforting and unique. It was also a dish I could convince my mother to experiment making at home, and she isn’t into complicated cooking at all! So when we were at the Food and Wine Festival at Disney World for the half marathon last year and we tried a seafood shepherd’s pie, I knew I had to make my own version at home.
Turns out, a seafood shepherd’s pie is called a fisherman’s pie, of course, and that Disney has the recipe from the Food & Wine festival on their website. So I took that version, added a few twists of my own, and created this! It’s definitely comfort food, so I waited to share it until cooler weather. It seems fitting to share now, a week before Thanksgiving, because not everyone eats turkey. I think this is a lovely alternative for your seafood-loving guests, or even a replacement if you’re looking for something non-traditional.
I use shrimp and crab in my fisherman’s pie recipe because they’re common in the mid-Atlantic and go well with the regional spice-of-choice, crab seasoning. I love to make dishes inspired by where we live at the moment, and a mid-Atlantic take on the seafood pie we tried at the Festival was a hit! Shrimp and crab are also easily found at any grocery store and are usually more cost-effective than lobster, making this a great choice for the holidays. Use raw shrimp (fresh or frozen) instead of cooked. The shrimp will cook during baking to a perfect texture. We definitely want to avoid over-cooking shrimp!
In my opinion, this is a dish best prepared in steps as it can be a bit time consuming to make the seafood portion and the mashed potatoes from scratch on the same day if you’ve got a lot going on in the kitchen. I served this as our main dish for Easter last year, but if I were serving for a larger holiday gathering, I would plan to make either the mashed potatoes or the filling a day in advance.
I hope you enjoy this recipe, and bookmark it for later if you aren’t planning to serve it next week. If you’re looking for another alternative Thanksgiving main dish, check out my vegetarian pumpkin lasagna from last year! Enjoy, darlings!
Shrimp and Crab Filling
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cups onion, chopped
- 2 cups celery, diced
- 1.5 lbs raw shrimp, remove tails and save for cooking - use a spice bag or tie in clean cheesecloth, chop the shrimp into bite sized pieces
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 tbsp cognac
- 3 cups stock, seafood or vegetable
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
- 1/2 tsp New Mexico chili powder
- 2 tsp crab seasoning, ex - Old Bay
- 1/4 tsp white pepper
- 1 tsp hot sauce
- 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 8 ounces cooked crab meat, shells removed
- 5-6 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 6-8 cups water
- 4 tbsp butter
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tsp crab seasoning, ex- Old Bay
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, white cheddar preferred
Start by making the crab and shrimp filling...
- Place the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan (with lid - but leave uncovered for now) over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook for about 5 minutes until tender. Add the garlic and cook an additional minute.
- Add the tomato paste and the shrimp tails in your spice bag or cheese cloth, and cook for 1-2 minutes. Then stir in the flour and cook constantly for another 2 minutes. Slowly pour in the stock and the cognac. Lower the heat to medium low and allow to simmer for 30 minutes. (See Notes for a preparation tip)
- Bring the heat back up to medium, stir in the whipping cream, and bring to a low boil for 15 minutes. Add the seasonings.
- Remove the shrimp tail bag and stir in the shrimp meat and crab. Cover and set aside.
To Make the Mashed Potatoes
- Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Add the cubed potatoes and cook 10-15 minutes until fork tender. Drain the water.
- Add the cream, butter, and crab seasoning to the cooked potatoes and mash until smooth.
To Assemble and Bake the Fisherman's Pie
- Preheat your oven to 350 F.
- Place the warm filling into a 3 quart baking dish and top with the mashed potatoes. You may choose to dollop and spread in an even layer or pipe as I did. Top the mashed potatoes with the shredded cheddar cheese.
- Bake 25-30 minutes until the cheese has melted and slightly browned along the edges. Serve warm.
If you are making this all in one day, a great time to get the mashed potatoes made is while your filling bisque is simmering. If you are separating the work into 2 days, Store the bisque in the refrigerator overnight and then re-warm before adding to your baking dish and topping with mashed potatoes.