Saturday, April 9, 2011

RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Shepherd's Pie

Classes and other sensible approaches to life. Molly Merritt of Local Feast is teaching a series of food workshops, some with wild edibles, some not. Her recipe for Shepherd's Pie is pre-fiddlehead and pre-ramp so no waiting for tender shoots....cook it up with stuff right out of today's larder.

We substituted some ground goat for beef or lamb....poignant in this dish snuggling with veggies under a potato blanket.

Cooking note: Varying from the recipe can be a good thing and sometimes a different thing. For the pan, a pedestrian glass baking dish, especially if worn and scratched in the corners is the very soul of Pot Lucks, Mother and the Catholic School steam-table. Why not a pretty, not scratched deep dutch oven with a nifty lid for storage?

Why not indeed?

The potato needs to spread out a bit to get nice and crisp and, well, cooked. Pack the potato in too tight and potato blanket becomes potato lava. But this a comfort food, sloppy comfort in the volcano version, but comforting in the way that deviating from the norm can sometimes be.

Shepherd’s pie with goat meat

This recipe uses a wider variety of vegetables than the traditional Shepherd’s pie, including rutabagas in the potato layer. Feel free to add in other vegetables as you desire. To make a vegetarian Shepherd’s pie, replace the meat with crumbled tofu or tempeh, and add an extra tbs. of olive oil and 1 tbs. soy sauce while browning.

For the meat layer:
1 tbs. olive oil
1 lb. ground beef or lamb or GOAT
1 medium onion
1 c. diced carrot
1 c. diced celery root
½ tsp. dried thyme
½ tsp. dried sage
½ tsp. salt
a few pinches black pepper

For the potato layer:
1 lb. potatoes
1 lb. rutabaga
2 tbs. butter
1 c. milk
1 tsp. salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and sauté the onion until translucent. Add the carrot and celery root and sauté 2-3 minutes. Add the herbs, salt and pepper and cook 2-3 minutes more. If your skillet is very large you can brown the meat (or tofu/tempeh) in the skillet with the vegetables, if its already quite full use a separate pan for browning then stir meat into the vegetable mixture.

Peel the rutabaga. You can also peel the potatoes or leave the skins on. Cut the rutabaga and potato into chunks and put them in a medium saucepan with water to cover. Bring to a boil and simmer until very soft, 15-20 minutes. Drain and mash with the butter, milk and salt.

Spread the meat mixture into the bottom of a 9 x 12 baking dish. Spoon the mashed potatoes on top and gently spread them over the meat layer. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until top is golden. Serves 6.

Courtesy of Molly Merritt's
Local Feast Cooking School