Saturday, January 29, 2011

Shepherd's Pie

Brian requested Shepherd's pie, and that's perfect, because I have tired vegetables in the freezer.

I don't recipe, of course, so here's what I threw together. 

[Edited to add: There's a Vegan Shepherd's Pie here.]

I found something magical in the freezer:

Ok, so it's probably 6 months old and covered in freezer burn, but it's gravy I don't have to make. You could substitute some delightful, fresh homemade gravy here, but I think of Shepherd's Pie as the food you make when stew would be good, but you don't want to put all that love into dinner. So frozen gravy it is.

Step one was to assess the veg situation. I had fresh carrots, fresh onions, fresh garlic, fresh mushrooms, and I had the freezer. See, in the summer, my posts will be all pretty, perky, brightly colored locally sourced veg... but in the winter, my food is all stuff that looked that way (pretty, perky, bright) six months ago when I obtained it. So perky is out. I swear, you can buy the sweetest, bestest, freshest corn out there, but let half a year go by and the best you can do with it is soup. Or Shepherd's Pie.

Oooh, ice crystals.

I also had frozen summer squash (yellow and zucchini) so I chopped some of that up and threw it in a pan with some melted butter and the aforementioned onions, carrots, garlic, mushrooms and corn.

Like an ass, I had frozen about a quart of sliced squash all in one ziploc, so it was a brick and I had to defrost the whole thing (PORTION BEFORE YOU FREEZE, AS THERE IS NO HOPE AFTERWARDS). So I tucked the rest into the fridge in hopes that I decide what to do with it tomorrow.

I love these things.. we call them bowl helmets. I get them on Etsy from SewMuchStyle. They're wipable on the inside, cute fabric on the outside and they have elastic to go over your bowls, saving endless rolls of plastic wrap. Best of all, the're super washable.

So anyhow, veg in a pan, little butter, get the carrots a lil soft, and overcook the mushrooms so Brian doesn't find them, and add in the beef. People do this with pieces of meat, but I prefer it with ground. And when I say "beef" I'm lying. I use bison.

I started on bison when I read somewhere about how much better it is for us than beef. Then I compared the labels (on what I actually purchase) and saw that really, the only advantage was in cholesterol, but I'll take it. So maybe there are really healthy cuts of bison out there, but not in my store. Anyhow, it's sweeter than beef, and drier, more likely to get crumbly. So it's good in pasta sauce, tacos, shepherd's pie, etc.

So brown the beef with your veg goodies - if it's a greasy meat, drain it, but you lose some of the vegtacular juices, and besides, you're making gravy at the same time. Dab with a towel if you see shininess. And then add gravy. Maybe that means a can, or a scary container from the freezer, or maybe it means add a bit of stock (veg or beef) and some worcestershire and some red wine. And maybe do the cornstarch in water trick to thicken a bit. Either way, add lots of black pepper.

This is the worcestershire I use:

mostly because I like my condiments to be vegan, because I don't want to get screwed if I'm cooking for a vegan friend and I have no way to season the seitan. I've been screwed more than once thinking I was making a vegan meal and finding out the hummus I was using wasn't. Damn it, Tribe Hummus. So now I make my own hummus and it's not an issue.

Ok, so everything is stewlike in a pan and we need some mashed potatoes. I had a potato crisis tonight - had a 2lb bag of golden potatoes, went to dump them in the boiling water and I think the bag might have touched the water. I feel like I smelled plastic. So I panicked and microwaved potatoes (10 mins) and it totally worked. I may never boil potatoes again.

I also tried to take a shortcut, since I just watched this video which clearly demonstrates dumping cooked potatoes in icewater and magically pulling off the skins with your hands. Maybe that works for a thick-skinned Idaho, but not these waxy mfs. So mine are skin-on. Rustic even. That's where the nutrients are anyhow.

I usually make my potatoes like this but with homemade veg broth to keep them vegan (and skinny doesn't hurt) but I only had a few cubes of frozen broth handy (and the rest frozen in big containers ala the damn zucchini) so I went half broth half milk. Two pounds of potatoes with skins just barely covered my "stew".

I threw it in the oven at 350 for 30 mins, but at the end it wasn't GBD [i can't find a link to Alton Brown using that to mean "golden brown and delicious" but he does] so I put it under the broiler for 4 minutes at the end. FOUR IS FAR TOO MANY. It's still good.

Yeah this was meat intensive, so tomorrow, I hope to be all about local Philadelphia tofu.

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