Saturday, March 10, 2012

Who needs a recipe?

I had a hankering for Shepherd's Pie but couldn't find a recipe after looking through four of my cookbooks.  Then I thought I bet I can figure it out by myself -- who needs a recipe, right?

I love to use cookbooks and the Internet when trying new recipes but my favorite way to make our evening meal is by opening up the fridge and throwing something together and that's what I did tonight.  I was pretty successful, too.  Sure my pie could have used a little more Worcestershire sauce (we ran out), the carrots could have been cooked a little more, and the potatoes were a bit lumpy but there were no complaints from the peanut gallery.

I grind my own beef (I use chuck steak) and it's really low fat so I can skip the step of draining the meat after it is browned, but if you see grease in your pot make sure to drain it -- you don't want to end up with greasy shepherd's pie (yuck).  I baked the casserole in the Dutch oven since I was trying to keep the number of pots used to a minimum.  The potatoes weren't browning so I ended up setting the oven to broil and after five minutes, voila!

Shepherd's Pie
From Ann's Brain
Serves 6

2 lbs ground beef
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 large carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
2-3 large garlic cloves, minced
6 small Russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 tsp Thyme
1 Tbsp olive Oil
4 Tbsp butter, divided
1 cup beef stock
1/2 cup red wine
3 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce (I only had about 2 Tbsp)
2 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
Optional:  grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375.

Place diced potatoes in pot of cold water and bring to boil over medium heat.  Boil potatoes until tender.

While the potatoes are cooking, heat oil and 1 Tbsp of butter in Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add onion to Dutch oven and saute until soft (about 5-8 minutes).  Add garlic and thyme stirring until fragrant, and then add carrots and celery.  When vegetables are tender add ground beef and cook until meat is browned.  Drain grease from pot.

 Stir in flour and tomato paste, and cook for a couple minutes.  Add wine and beef stock and cook until liquid has almost evaporated.  Turn off heat, stir in green peas, and prepare mashed potatoes.  Warning:  The filling will look and smell so tasty you must work hard to resist spooning up a bowlful to wolf down.

Drain water from potatoes, add remaining butter, and mash potatoes until smooth.  You may need to add a bit of milk (I used soy milk) to help smooth out potatoes.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Add potatoes to top of filling, and smooth over entire surface.  Drag fork over potatoes to create ridges, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if desired.

Bake at 375 on center rack until casserole is bubbling (20 to 25 minutes).  Turn heat to broil and bake until potato crust is browned (about 5 minutes).