mastering a classic.

i have to spill the beans on a secret of mine - i have relied on flavour packets for way too long. you know the ones - meatloaf, superburger and the ultimate companion - shepard's pie. this beauty has help me out many a night when comfort food is in order but there are no braising meat (yeah like that has ever happened), no chicken to roast and no cubes of beef for stew (sometimes who wants to start making dinner at lunch? although i make a kick-ass cider beef stew.). it's these times when my hand digs through the spice and oil/vinegar cupboard (a little overflowing at times - i'm sorry i like flavour!) and like buried treasure, out comes this gem.

last week we were tempted for such a treat. into the cupboard i went only to come out empty handed. what?? so top of the grocery list went shep. pie. flav. pack. (my page is not so big). at the store i got to what i thought would be the flavour pack isle and looked and looked through what was there and hang on...it's not here. okay maybe it's over by the spices. nope. maybe in the baking. nope. some random stand? nope. now it seems to me that maybe here in quebec people don't eat this meal.....are you serious?! low and behold we lost.
maxi 1. jen 0.

i have tried to make this from scratch before and it had no flavour. i guess no msg, hahaha. and being as cheap as i am i didn't want to waste the ingredients on another try. i am that cheap. today though i decided to embrace my word for 2011 and go for it.

i went for it and i won. it was so good! i looked on food network.com and casually glanced at an alton brown version and made up my own from that. it is pretty tasty and i will definitely make it again. goodbye club house packet. you served us well, got us through alot of dinners but we have moved on to greener pastures. goodbye my old friend.

jen's wicked shepard's pie.
4 medium yukon gold potatoes. 
1 pound lean ground beef.
2 cloves of garlic, minced.
1 medium onion, medium to small diced (your preference).
2 tbsp flour.
1 cup beef broth (you can use chicken but why? you're cooking beef. never got that).
1 tsp worchester - i like this so i do a lot of splashes.
1 tsp fresh rosemary (1/2 tsp dry).
1 tsp fresh thyme (1/2 tsp dry).
1 to 1/12 cups frozen peas - put in how much you like! also this is where you can make it your own. try carrots, try corn, go crazy and used the mixed bag! tailor it to you!

pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. have an approx. 11x7 1/2 inch casserole dish on standby.

make mashed potatoes:
wash your potatoes to make sure all the dirt bits are off because nobody wants to eat that. cut into chunks, place in pot, cover with water and boil until tender when pierced with a fork. drain, return to pot, add favorite mash potato ingredients (milk, butter, sour cream etc. remember don't forget the salt and pepper!) i, myself, am a skim milk, salt & pepper gal. mash up your potatoes, cover and set aside.

meanwhile fry up your meat in a large skillet over medium high heat. now here is where there is some debate in my mind - since we will be draining this beef, do you put the onions and garlic in now and then potentially drain out all the flavour they have contributed and get them all oily in the process or do you do the beef first, drain and then add them risking overcooking the beef and not getting the maximum flavour? what a conundrum! this time i added them about halfway through cooking the beef and i drained the beef about 3/4 of the way through the cooking process. now sprinkle the beef mix with your flour and mix it up to cook your flour and thicken it up. add your herbs now and sautee for about 30 to a minute so they release all there earthy greatness. add your worchester and then your stock. finally add your peas or vegetable of choice. bring this to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 5 to 7 minutes or until it gets thick - there really should be no liquid left. (this time i added a dash of cayenne at this point for a bit of heat but it's up to you.) check seasoning now and correct if necessary.

once the the mix is to your satisfaction pour it straight into the dish. now bit by bit, using a spatula, spread the mashed potato over the layer of beef, covering completely. optional: sprinkle with paprika or cayenne powder.

place in pre-heated oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until the top is golden brown and you see little bubbles of brown gravy goodness planning their escape up the sides. pull out, let cool slightly and dig in!

No comments: