Shepherd’s Pie

Since Sarah is always posting recipes, I decided to include one as well, which it just so happens I made last night.

Be forewarned: my recipes do not follow exact measurements. If this is troublesome for you … tough.

Also: I make this as a vegetarian recipe, but of course traditionally, it’s not. An easy modification.

You’ll need (to serve four):
Leeks (white and light green sections only), 3-4, chopped
Carrots, 1-2 cups, chopped
A turnip and/or parsnips, 1-2 cups, chopped
Protein if desired, 1-2 cups
Fresh thyme if possible, half a little package (strip off the leaves, discard the tougher stems) or 1-2 teaspoons dried
Worcestershire sauce 2-3 tablespoons
Tomato paste, 1-2 tablespoons
Red wine, 0.5-1 cup
Stock, 2 cups
Dried rosemary, 0.5-1 teaspoons
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Butter, 3-4 tablespoons
Flour, 1-2 tablespoons
Potatoes, 4-5 peeled (I like Yukon gold, but whatever you prefer is fine)
Cheddar cheese, 1 cup

Cut the bottoms and tops off the leeks, slice them in half longways, and then slice them into half-inch sections. Soak to get the dirt off: leeks are dirty little fuckers.

Peel and chop the root veggies into approximately 1-inch pieces.

Now, if you’re using actual animal meat, at this point, you should brown that, ground beef and/or lamb, or ground turkey, I’d imagine. (Or, heck, use chunks, whatever.) Cook through, set aside, drain the excess fat. If you’re going veggie, skip this.

Boil water. Add peeled potatoes, and boil until tender. Drain.

In your big ass skillet, melt your butter, and add the leeks and root veggies, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat until everything starts to soften and brown – deglaze the pan with the wine. Add the flour and whisk briskly until it dissolves. Add the stock (veggie if you’re veggie, beef if your doing beef/lamb, chicken if you’re doing turkey), the Worcestershire sauce (If you’re an actual honest vegetarian, Worcestershire sauce is off limits – it’s made with oysters; I’d add some horseradish in its place if I were you), the tomato paste, the thyme and rosemary. Simmer all together until the sauce thickens and reduces. Now, if you’re adding either some fake wheat gluten ground or some pre-cooked brown lentils as your protein, add those now. Or, now is when to add back in your cooked meat.

Preheat oven to 425.

In a baking pan, pour in the protein-veggie-gravy tastiness. Mash the cheddar cheese into your potatoes, and pipe or spread those onto the top of the casserole.

Bake for 20 minutes.

I like to serve this with Brussels sprouts. My easy Brussels sprouts recipe of deliciousness is as follows:

Brussels sprouts, a baggie full, stems trimmed off and cut in half
Shallots, 3-4 peeled and sliced
Butter, 3-4 tablespoons
Apple Cider Vinegar, 2 tablespoons
Salt and pepper to taste

Over medium heat, brown the halved sprouts and sliced shallots in butter until they get golden and roasty-looking. Cover to steam for a final two or three minutes. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and apple cider vinegar, stir.

I was thinking about making this a diabetic-friendly recipe, and I think it’s eminently doable. You can reduce or eliminate the flour in the sauce (cook the sauce down a bit longer, as Sarah mentioned in her beef stroganoff post) (or, the internet tells me arrowroot flour is a gluten-free thickener), and in lieu of potatoes, use mashed cauliflower (again as Sarah mentioned in the stroganoff post).

I was thinking also about how to make it vegan, and I think you could happily elect to replace the butter with a neutral-tasting oil like canola, but seriously, I cannot imagine this dish without the cheddar. Vegans, if you don’t need the cheese, more power to you, though.

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