Wednesday, March 24, 2010

shepherd's pie...(why is it called that?)

i could look into why this is called shepherd's pie. or not. let's go with not.

the craving hit for something comfort-foodish. combine that with the ongoing deficiency of vegetables in my world AND the fact that many of my pots were in the dishwasher. and now you have this post. few dishes were dirtied in the creation of this meal.

it's tasty, it's comforty, it only uses dirties three different containers (if you don't wash in between), and frankly, it's easy. on top of it, what better way to both practice your knife skills AND get all five servings of vegetables in one dish?!?

and yes, you can top it with tater tots instead of potatoes. ahhhh, tater tots. but alas, why screw up all that great vegetable-eating by slathering them in deep-fried anything? (let's not kid around, on another day, we're going with the tater tots...that day is not today.)

you can switch this up with different meats, different vegetables, and different toppings. it's great for getting rid of leftovers and frozen stuff! enough of that--here's the recipe:

shepherd's pie

2 baking potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp half-n-half
1-pound ground beef
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp dried minced onion
1-2 Tbsp steak seasoning (to taste) (i use this steak seasoning for all things beefy)
2 carrots, peeled, chopped
3 celery, chopped
1 cup green beans
1 cup corn (i used frozen sweet corn)
1 large tomato, chopped
3/4 cup beef broth
1 cup sour cream (i used tillamook fat free)
2 tsp flour
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400-degrees.

Put the chopped potatoes in a saucepan, cover with cold water, and set to simmer until potatoes are tender, approximately 20 minutes.

Brown the ground beef in a separate skillet, adding the onion and garlic approximately half-way through the cooking. If you used a higher fat beef, spoon out some of the fat (lower fat beef won't have more than a tablespoon or two of fat).

Once the beef is browned, add the carrots and allow to saute 5 minutes. Add celery and allow to saute another 3-5 minutes. If using frozen beans and corn, add them now and cover the pan, allowing them to thaw and steam a little, approximately 3 minutes. Add tomatoes.

Add broth and sour cream, stirring until the sour cream breaks up and incorporates to make a white sauce. Sprinkle flour over if the sauce needs some thickening. Allow to simmer 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat.

Among all that simmering, you can prepare the mashed potatoes. Once the potatoes are tender, drain out the water and put potatoes back in the hot saucepan. Add butter and allow to melt. Once melted, add half-n-half (milk would work too) while mashing with a fork until the potatoes are your desired consistency. For this recipe, I mashed to just a "rustic" level of mashing and less creamy than if I were serving them alongside something else.

Pour the beef mixture into a baking dish. I used a 9x11, but that almost went over the edge of the pan. A deep dish pie plate or 9x13 would suffice. (You could even split it among two smaller, 8-inch rounds and freeze one for later.)

Top the beef mixture with the potatoes. Bake for 20 minutes, to heat through. Allow to set 5-10 minutes to allow the sauce to filter back down and settle a bit.

mmmmm.....oh, by the way, a big thanks to the pioneer woman for tips on improving food pictures, even with my point-and-shoot digital camera. (sorry for the dark final product, i was losing daylight!) and this was on a relatively cloudy day--so for all you west-coasters, it is possible to use "natural light" when one hasn't seen the sun for a while.