Monday, 26 December 2011

Sometimes I'm a Better Cook when I Just Thow Sh*t Together

Last week I made a Shepherd's Pie.  It kinda went like this:
Steve, "Where's the recipe for tonight's dinner?"
Me, "What recipe?  There is no recipe."
Steve, "I don't know how to make Shepherd's Pie.  I've never made it before."
Me, "Just get out the meat and start browning it, I'll throw some stuff in there, you'll love it.  I want to make some changes from the last time I made it anyways."  (And then Steve gave me this blank look as if to say 'when did we last have this--we've never had this?' and I have him that stony gaze that said 'I've made this half a dozen times over the last couple of years, bozo, why don't you remember this?')  I was hormonal and irrational so Steve just smiled to humour me.  And then we poured some wine and he started browning meat.  So here it is, our best Shepherd's Pie so far--man did it turn out good! (Despite my crazy and our wine-drinking-while-cooking habit)

Shepherd's Pie (turnip-topped)

I wanted to try something other than mashed cauliflower for a change.  We don't normally like turnips in our house, but after cooking a couple of other things with turnip that turned out good, I thought we'd try it here, too.  Turns out it is milder and slightly sweeter than cauliflower mash, and everyone actually liked it better.  I hope turnips are paleo-friendly because I'm really starting to like them.  I'm pretty sure Grok would have eaten his fair share of tubers back in his day...
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 4 cups turnip or 1/3 large rutabaga
  • handful carrots, celery
  • 1/4 Spanish onion
  • 1 tbs tomato paste
  • 1 tsp beef stock powder (or add your own, check labels)
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • seasonings of choice--I added rosemary and thyme, salt and pepper
  • 1/2 c flavoured cheese of choice (I used Havarti with herbs--that's what I had on hand)
  • 2 tbs butter
Preheat oven to 375 F.  Peel and cube turnip, put in pot and cover with water, boil until tender enough to mash (this takes a bit longer than potatoes do).  Meanwhile, in large skillet on med-high, fry beef, onions, carrots, celery and seasonings until meat is cooked through.  As soon as meat begins to brown, turn heat down to med-low and add tomato paste, beef stock powder and Worcestershire sauce.  Add only enough water to make a sauce about as thick as gravy.  You want it to coat the meat, but not be watery.  Letting it simmer a little at this point is only going to make it better, but is not necessary if you're in a rush.

Once soft enough to mash; drain turnip, return to pot and add butter and cheese.  Mash with an electric mixer if you have one--this stuff is hard to mash!  The mixer will make it much smoother.

Remove meat to a casserole dish; I used a deep oval but a 8x8 will work just fine.  Top with mashed turnip.  Bake in oven for around 30 minutes.  Everything is already cooked and hot, but I like to bake mine until the juices from the gravy bubble up over the mashed turnip around the edges, flavouring the mash.  Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
Here I am with my crappy food photography again.  It was delicious.  There were enough leftovers for the next day after my trail run.  It was just as awesome re-heated....  Maybe this coming year I will buy more photogenic dishes.  This stoneware comes out awful in photos!

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