Friday, 27 April 2012

Cookin' it old school

Do you have meals that you have been cooking for forever?  Ones that you don't even need the recipe for, you just know what to do?  Ones that are a part of the fabric of your family table?  I do.  I have a few of those meals, but none so iconic than Shepard's Pie.  Well, actually it is cottage pie because I don't really like ground lamb, or at least I didn't when I started cooking this, maybe I will now?  I digress.

 Anyways, when I was doing my weekly meal plan I asked the kids what they wanted this week and little L emphatically asked, could we have Shepard's Pie?  He's not aware of the meat politics and this pie, I roll with it.  So I said, you bet.

This is a meal I learned to make when I first got married 10 years ago.  One that was both yummy and comforting.  One that seemed like a new bride should know how to make.  Yes, I was a bit idillic back then.  Now, not so much, but it still is an old favourite that would fit well on any supper table.  Now, for those of you who don't like ground lamb or beef, you can use ground turkey, chicken, or veggie ground round, you can completely make it your own and perhaps even find a new name for it.  Whatever the case, it is a one dish meal, served with a good salad and fruit for desert, as we did, makes for a homey, lovely supper that everyone seems to love.  It was the quietest night we have had yet this week at the table, all I heard was the sound of chewing and little V's humming, which she does when she really loves what she is eating.  Plates left empty at the end of the meal, happy kids and yes, a happy wife, happy life.

The New Bride's Shepard's Pie

4-5 russet potatoes (you can substitute yams or yukon gold), peeled and quartered
milk and butter
a couple of good glugs of good olive oil
2 carrots diced
2 stalks celery diced
1 onion diced
1 cup of frozen peas
1lb ground beef (or use what you like)
1 Tbsp flour (arrowroot for those who need gluten free)
1 cup stock, chicken or veg
2 sprigs rosemary
a few sprigs of thyme
salt and pepper

First get your potatoes on the boil in salted water, you are going to mash them for the topping.
While that is happening, heat up your pan with your olive oil.  When heated, add the onion, carrots and celery.  Cook these slowly so that the flavours come together and caramelize.

Once they are soft and sweet, add your meat and mix it in well with your salt and pepper, browning it in the lovely vegetable mixture.  When all of that is well browned, add your peas, herbs, and sprinkle the flour over top.  This will all come together nicely, then add your stock, this makes the gravy.  Cook this down for a couple of minutes until most of the liquid has incorporated into the mixture and then put to the side.

If they weren't ready before, by now your potatoes should be soft, drain and mash with butter and milk.  Add a little salt if you need, but don't overdo it.

Put your meat mixture into a dish, I use a pie plate, you use whatever looks lovely to you and then spread the mashed potatoes over top.  Get the kids to make railroads in the potatoes and sprinkle with Paprika.  I wouldn't be a good Hungarian daughter if I didn't tell you to get a good, sweet, Hungarian variety, it does make a difference.  But if you don't have it, this will still taste super yummy.
Bake in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes.  I recommend putting a baking sheet under your dish so that when the good gravy bubbles up, it doesn't spill all over your oven.

This is good to eat if you are a Shepard, live in a cottage or if you are new bride.  It is also great for kids. Serve with a good green salad.

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