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Cowherd’s Pie

July 3, 2012

Cowherd's Pie
Based on that old English favorite, Shepherd’s Pie, this is a liberal re-interpretation of the idea, using whatever veggies you have to hand and a tomato based sauce.

Ingredients:

For mashed potato:

1 large Russet potato
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tbsp. (or so) 2% milk
½ tsp. crushed garlic
½ tsp. fresh ground black pepper
2 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary (halve that if dried)
Pinch sea salt

For pie sauce:

10-12 oz. lean ground hamburger (mince)
1 small onion chopped finely
4 cloves fresh garlic, crushed and chopped finely
1 large or 2 small carrots, peeled and cut into roundels
1 stick celery sliced into 1/8 inch pieces
7 oz. (half a can) stewed no added salt chopped tomatoes
1 squirt (2 tbsp. or so) tomato paste
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
Liberal dash Worcester(shire) sauce
2 bay leaves
Beef stock granules or a cube
Liberal dose of favorite herbs (I used Italian seasoning)
Now be creative and use the veggies that you have: I used 1 red and 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced, 2 small mushrooms, quartered and a zucchini, sliced. You could use frozen peas, frozen sweet corn, chunks of sweet potato, sliced and diced leeks, you get the idea?

Preparation:

In a large saucepan, add a tbsp. of olive oil and heat on low(-ish) with the chopped garlic. As the garlic starts to bubble, add the chopped onion and sauté, turning regularly, 4-5 minutes until the onion is soft (and not burned).

In the meantime, add 1-2 tbsp of olive oil to a large (as you can find) skillet and heat on medium. Add the hamburger and break it up as it begins to brown. Keep the hamburger broken up as we want to brown, rather than braise it. Keep moving it around until all of the moisture has boiled off and the hamburger is browned, about 5 minutes. Add to the onion/garlic mixture in the saucepan.

Whilst this is happening, heat a large saucepan with a couple of quarts of salted water until boiling. Peel the potato and cut into approximately 1 inch square pieces. Add to the boiling water, bring back to the boil and then simmer for about 12-14 minutes until the potato pieces are easily cut but not mushy or flaky. Drain, add 2 tbsp. of butter, ½ tsp. crushed garlic, 2 tbsp. milk, ground fresh black pepper to taste and chopped rosemary. Mash the potato (using a masher, not, repeat not, a food processor which makes the resulting pap taste and behave like wallpaper paste) until smooth. Set aside.

To the saucepan with the hamburger and onions, add the carrots, celery, bell peppers (if using), stewed tomatoes, tomato paste, herbs, bay leaves, beef stock cube or granules and about ½ cup of water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for maybe 10 minutes until the carrot and celery are ‘al dente’. Add the mushrooms and zucchini (if using, but if you are using any ‘soft’ vegetables, add them here to save them from going mushy). Add a splash or two of Worcester sauce, to taste, and simmer for a further 5 minutes or so until the ‘soft’ vegetables are cooked but still have a decent texture.

Discard the bay leaves and empty the sauce into a relatively high-sided dish, as in the photo above, and let cool for about 30 minutes. Then, with a spoon or fork, ‘dot’ the top of the sauce with small pieces of the mashed potato, until you are out of potato and the surface is covered. With a fork, smooth out the potato, and then prettify it with the fork’s tines.

What you do next with it is pretty much up to you. You could have folks spoon it onto a plate and zap it with a microwave for a couple of minutes, or put it in an oven at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes (with some grated sharp cheddar on top, yum) or divide it up into portions and freeze it for later, or a combination.

Feeds: 4 – 6 depending on appetite.

Booze pairing: a bottle of India Pale Ale

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Categories: recipes
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