Friday, August 7, 2009

Shepherd's Pie is epitome of comfort food

By Helen Klein

Comforting and flavorful, Shepherd’s Pie is exactly the kind of dish you want on a rainy day.

It’s also the perfect vehicle for utilizing leftovers, if you have a little of this and a little of that, but not enough of anything for it to stand on its own.

I recently riffed on my standard Shepherd’s Pie recipe -- a long-ago gift from a British friend, who made it for me in her tiny Rome kitchen -- and came up with a new version that was as palate-pleasing as the original.

It also had the virtue of freeing up corners of my fridge from the tiny little packets of leftovers that otherwise would have sunk into some sort of black hole, only to resurface at some later date as something that I would really rather not have found.

For this version, I utilized half a chicken breast (all that remained from a roast chicken consumed a couple of days earlier), half a grilled steak and half a hot Italian sausage that had been broiled, all of which I cut up into small pieces.

To up the ante of protein, I added some chickpeas to the mix, which also included sautéd vegetables -- in this case, Vidalia onion, baby carrots cut on the diagonal, broccoli florets and a couple of cloves of garlic, sliced, though you could add whatever cooked vegetables you have on hand that seem appealing.

Whatever veggies you choose, do try to mix colors -- each color group adds different nutrients, as well as contributing a level of complexity to the flavor of the final dish.

New-style Shepherd's Pie

With thanks to Chris Brown, who gave me her original recipe for Shepherd’s Pie

½ to 1 pound of cooked meat, cut into small pieces
1 cup chickpeas
2-3 cups mixed cooked vegetables -- the mix should include onions and/or garlic
½ to 1 cup stock
2 tsp. sweet paprika, preferably Hungarian
1 tsp. oregano
2 bay leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 to 3 cups freshly mashed potatoes (I like red potatoes, which I cook and mash with their skins on)
More paprika, to finish

Preheat oven to 350°F.Combine all the ingredients, except the mashed potatoes and the additional paprika, in an ovenproof baking dish, adding just enough liquid to allow the ingredients to stew together, without being watery.

Spread the mashed potatoes on top, to create an even crust between ½" and ¾" thick, smoothing with a flat spatula and making sure the potato topping comes all the way to the edge. Sprinkle the top of the potatoes with paprika.

Place casserole in the oven and bake for 20 to 30 minutes until heated through. Then, set oven on broil and continue to cook a few more minutes until browned.Remove from oven and cut shepherd’s pie into wedges.

Serves four to six.

If you want to try Chris’ original recipe for Shepherd’s Pie, as I have adapted it over the years, brown 1 pound of chopped beef in its own fat in a large frying pan. Remove meat from pan, and drain in a strainer set over a metal mixing bowl. While the meat is draining, sauté 2 medium onions, chopped, and 2 chopped carrots in 1-2 Tbl. of olive oil till golden. Add the meat back to the pan. Pour in a cup of white wine. Add 1 tsp. dried mustard, 1 tsp. dried thyme, ¼ tsp. celery seed, a bay leaf and salt and pepper to taste to the mix. Cover the pan and simmer the beef mixture for about half an hour, adding water as necessary, till the flavors are absorbed and blended. Adjust flavors as necessary. Then, turn the beef mixture into the casserole, cover with the mashed potatoes, sprinkle the top with paprika and broil till the top is browned.


Copyright © 2009 All rights reserved

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP