Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cooking, cooking, cooking... shepherd's pie down

I feel like I'm building an arsenal. You know, like a pile of munitions I will keep in my sandbagged foxhole. And when the enemy converges - pam! I will lob a shepherd's pie at them! What a happy thought...!

Anyway, I love my veggie friends muchly and will do my best, but there really is NOTHING like Sukkos shepherd's pie!

Jennifer's Amazing Sukkos Shepherd's Pie

Not really a recipe as such, but here is the secret: FRUIT. A whole buncha fruit!
And squash! Sweet plus meat = yum!
Also, you have to start from scratch! If you have no time, then skip this. Ted stayed home from work sick today (he really is sick and cough-y; it wasn't a ploy), but ended up hanging out with the kids at Mrs. ViKi. I don't feel guilty because it's easy to entertain them there. And I had lots of time here to make Shepherd's Pie. I don't know when I would have done it, otherwise.

First, bake the squash: cut it in half & seed, place in a big-enough pan, spray with Pam, sprinkle with salt & brown sugar, spray again. Toss in a 400 degree oven for 30-45 minutes until you can poke it with a fork. I now refuse to deal with squash until it's been baked... so crazy-hard trying to peel it otherwise!

Now, peel the potatoes. If they're organic, you could just scrub and leave the peels on. I did it once and we loved the texture. I used 12 potatoes today - I wanted a lot and they were smallish organic ones. (which I peeled)

Boil the potatoes - whole if they're small ones - until you can poke them with a fork. (yes, the same fork as the squash!)

Meanwhile, cut up two onions and fry gently until translucent.

Add meat to translucent onions. Today, I had 3 packages of ground dark-meat turkey. Turkey works well, so does beef. So does anything, really! Season meat well with salt & pepper.

Stir meat until no traces of pink remain, then skim off as much fat as you can. Don't worry - it's not being thrown away; you'll need it for mashing the potatoes.

Meanwhile, peel and cut up two apples. Any kind will work. I sometimes use mango instead. The fruit will mostly vanish, leaving only a faint taste.

When the squash is done, scrape it from the skin and mash it well. Make sure to add the brown-sugar juice from the centres!

Transfer meat, squished squash, cut-up fruit and 2 cups of frozen corn to a big pot, add a cup or two of water, and set on a low simmer for 15-20 minutes.

While all this is happening, your potatoes should have been ready a while ago.

Lift them out of the boiling water and mash them with the skimmed-off fat and liquid from the meat (you don't have to use all of it if it seems like there's too much). Add some of the water they cooked in to get them to the right consistency. They should be nice and smooth for spreading over the meat.

When the meat is finished cooking, spread it in a big pan. I chose too small a pan this morning and the juices goobered out everywhere. It should be big enough to accomodate meat plus topping, but not too big. You don't want a stingy meat layer, and you don't want to have to spread the potatoes impossibly thin.

Plop the potatoes over the meat and spread them out nicely with a fork. If there is an area with too much potato, scoop some up and plop it somewhere that doesn't have enough, until all the topping is distributed more or less evenly.

Smooth the potato topping with a fork to make a nice pattern on the top (or skip this for a more rustic look).

Slide the whole thing into the fridge until about 45 minutes to an hour before showtime. (up to two days - I hope, because it's for Friday, and it's only Wednesday now!)
Then, just before serving bake at 375 for 30-45 minutes and present it to your amazed guests!

I know, this looks like a lot of steps. It's not! Here's the simplified version:

1) Cook squash
2) Cook potatoes
3) Cook meat
4) Combine!

See? Nothing could be simpler.

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