Friday, November 14, 2008

Shepherd's Pie, take 1.

Last night was my first chance to really make something new and interesting in my new kitchen. For the last few months I haven't really done much cooking-- really, it's been boxes of macaroni and cheese and ramen. And couscous with grilled chicken.

But newly inspired, I went out and got some ingredients to make a few things. A quiche, coming up (hopefully this weekend if I can find some darn pablano peppers), and a few types of cupcakes and cookies. I need a food processor. And a new digital camera. Currently I'm using someone else's and it's not doing so hot.

That said! Last night I gathered ingredients for a home cooked yummy meal, Shepherd's Pie. Now I've had the shepherd's pie at Cheesecake Factory and it's -amazing-. Seriously. At least the time I had it, it was.... I could taste all the fresh components in it, the herbs were seriously super fresh, like picked from the valley. I wanted to recreate a feeling like that, but with my own personal twist.

My shepherd's pie contains ground lamb, I went and grabbed a pound at my Whole Food's... now, in America usually it's ground beef, but upon research I've determined that beef + mashed potato crust = cottage pie. Lamb makes it shepherd's pie, it makes sense, considering the sheperd to his flock.

Basically shepherd's pie is a combination of leftover ingredients. It's meat, vegetables, gravy, with a mashed potato crust. My pie was all of the above, with twists on some recipes I glanced at. I used a variety of vegetables which I sauteed with the lamb and some herbs. I then let it all simmer in its own juicyness, and added Worcestershire sauce and diced tomato. After more simmering I added a squirt of ketchup to replace the 'tomato sauce' usually used... ketchup, to me, has that vinegary edge that just brings out so much flavour. It's not quite as fresh as a tomato sauce, of course, but I really have a love affair with it.

I then added some red wine to deepen the flavours, then some wheat flour to thicken the sauce into a gravy. The mashed potatoes I covered it with I wanted to be uber creamy, I added butter and milk and a little bit of Parmesan cheese to give them some of their own flavour, then topped the entire thing with some grated colbyjack. After I let it roast for awhile, I removed it and topped with some caramelized onions.

I was reading another foodblog which was talking about how caramelized onions bring forth the flavors of fall. I quite agree with that, I crave them in fall more than any other time... and shepherd's pie, being a fairly simple hearty treat, seems like it would go super well with it.

I plated it with some crusty spelt bread I toasted and smeared with garlic and sprinkled with salt.

The approximate recipe for this shepherd's pie, as I didn't really write it down (shame on me).

Shepherd's Pie I

2 medium white rose potatoes, cubed
2 medium red potatoes, cubed
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup milk (or until smooth)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 large, sweet onion, chopped
1/2 tomato. chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
1/8 cup frozen green beans
1/8 cup frozen green peas
1/8 cup frozen corn
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground lamb
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon wheat flour
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ketchup
1/8 cup red wine
1/8 cup grated cheese
caramelized onions

Oven at 400 Degrees Fahrenheit.

Boil the cubed potatoes until tender. Drain, then mash well, mixing in the butter, milk, Parmesan cheese, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Make sure to mix in enough milk to make the potatoes extremely creamy, and smooth enough to spread.

In a large skillet, drizzle some olive oil and two teaspoons of butter. Add all the vegetables but the tomatoes and start to cook. Add the ground lamb and herbs, and cook until the lamb is browned and it's juices have seeped. Add the Worcestershire sauce and tomatoes. Allow to simmer together for five minutes, then add the ketchup. Stir and fold to mix all together and allow to simmer until the tomatoes break down slightly. Add the red wine and continue to stir and simmer for another five minutes. Add the flour and whisk into the sauces, then remove from heat.

Pour the meat mixture into an oven safe casserole dish, spread to form an even surface. Top with the mashed potatoes, and spread evenly. Sprinkle with the grated cheese and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until brown. Broil for the last few minutes if necessary.

Remove from oven and topped with caramelized onions.


When I was out getting ingredients, I completely forgot to get herbs... I'm nearly out since moving into my new apartment and I have no rosemary, so it didn't have that fresh pop I was looking for. That being said, it was quite delicious. There's a few things I plan to change in this recipe, one including writing it down and using some more fresh ingredients, but it was really, really tasty as is. The wine gave it a super richness that was both delicate and bold.

Again, my apologies that I haven't uber photograpphed anything. I will. I promise. I will.

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