Monday, March 14, 2011

Shepherds Pi

      I'm the sort of person who celebrates St. Patrick's Day Ireland all year long and I jumped at the chance to do a few recipes for the holiday week. So, without further ado,

Welcome to Irish Week at Cooking on Skates!

      I'm going to start off with one of my favorites, Shepherds Pie. Technically it's not Irish, but a British dish. My Irish best friend told me so. I can't imagine why I would have been confused.

Anyway, Here are most of the ingredients you will need:

      Doesn't that look healthy!

      There are three things you need to do right away:
      First, put your potoatoes and some water in a large pot to boil. Add a little bit of oil to prevent the pot from boiling over. Potatoes have a lot of starch in them, so they like to do that.
      Second, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
      Third, fill a separate small saucepan with about 2 cups of water, put it on a back burner, and turn it to high heat.

      Now you can start cooking your hamburger. (Hey, Kelly did say she wanted something in the blog for her non-vegetarian friends!) I like to chop it while it's browning so it ends up in small bits. I figure that the more surface area that gets exposed, the more places the seasoning has to bind to.

      When the small saucepan of water is about to boil, add in the gravy mix(es) and whisk until they've dissolved. Boil the mixture for the amount of time listed on the package, or until the mixture is appropriately thick. I used two mixes that each called for 1 cup of water, but I always tend to end up with very thin gravy, so I only used 1.5 cups of water. I think it came out perfect, if perhaps a tiny bit thick. It's always easier to thin sauces and soups than it is to thicken them, so I err on the side of caution.

      When the gravy is ready, add it to the hamburger. Stir it in. Salt, pepper, or otherwise season to taste.

      Add in the carrots first, cook them for a while, then add in the peas. (Unless you're me. Then you just throw everything in at once and call it good. And completely forget to add the onion.)

      Test your potoatoes to see if they're ready to mash. If not, rotate them in the pan and cook them a bit longer. If you're me, mop up the stove because you always fill the pot too full and the pot went ahead and boiled over anyway. (Postmortem says: Use a bigger pot.)

      Fill a large baking dish with the meat and vegetable mixture and flatten it out as much as possible.

      About now the potatoes should finally be done! I always use red potatoes because I don't have to peel them first.

      Mash the potatoes and add in butter and milk until the consistency is creamy rather than flaky. Add in garlic, salt, and/or pepper to taste. I used about 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic from a jar, but I couldn't taste it in the potatoes at all. I'll probably use 1.5 Tbsp. next time.

      Top the meat and vegetable mixture with dollops of the potatoes, then smooth them out until no gaps remain.

Top it with cheese to garnish, then place in the oven.

      Color blindness math geek test: Do you see it yet?

      Note: If the top of the potato layer is level with the edge of the dish, or close to it, be sure to put some tinfoil on the rack below it. (Some years ago, I spent the better part of three days scrubbing out a brand new commercial baking oven because my particularly heedless boss had insisted that I cook uncovered bacon in it for several months. To this day I do what I can to ensure that I never have to scrub another oven.)

      Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. If you like your cheese garnish crispy, turn on the broiler for the last two or three minutes, but watch it carefully or it will burn.

Happy Pi Day everyone!

      On reflection, this dish would have been more appropriately served in a round pan. Too bad I don't have one that size.
      And yes, I did set this post to publish at 3/14 1:59. You're welcome.

Ingredient list for Shepherds Pi(e)

1 lb hamburger
8 oz peas
5 large carrots
1/2 onion
2 packages gravy mix
2-3 lb potatoes
~1 Tbsp. butter
~1/8 cup milk
cheese to garnish
salt, pepper, garlic, seasoning to taste


Unknown said...

Happy Pi Day! Shepherd's pie is pretty easy to make vegetarian for anyone who wants to. Just use a veggie broth-based gravy or mushroom gravy mix. And leave out the hamburger or replace it with mushrooms or a meat substitute. Yummy! Plus then it would be vegan if you left off the cheese, but I'd never do that. Haha!

Also, potato peeling haters, unite!

Thanks for this super-awesome guest post. :)

DeVeeM said...

I have to add this as a postscript, even though I didn't make it myself:
Chicken Pot Pi