Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Shepherd's Pie AKA Hunting Rancher's Pie

I was looking for something new to do with our ground beef (we have a lot in the freezer right now), and was paging through the new (Feb. 2010) Martha Stewart Living when I ran across her recipe for Shepherd's Pie. I was intrigued by the use of parsnips and yogurt in the mashed potato topping, but not by the ground turkey or the weird chili powder in the filling. (chili powder? in shepherd's pie??) Not that I've ever had shepherd's pie, but chili powder just doesn't sound right to me.

I pulled out my American Classics cookbook, written by the editors of Cook's Illustrated magazine. You know, the people who test the daylights out of recipes to come up with the "Best" way to make them? So they suggested using diced lamb shoulder chops for the best flavor, which is probably true, but I've got ground beef. If I remember today I'll check the freezer in town for some lamb to add to the beef.

Then I remembered Shell's Shepherd Pie recipe that she posted back in November. It looks quite similar to the American Classics recipe, except doesn't call for wine. I like wine. The measurements are almost identical, but Shell's also adds corn. I like corn, too.

So this is what I decided. I'm going to use ground beef, and maybe some lamb. I'm going to use the Martha's topping and Shell's/American Classic's filling, with wine and Shell's corn. I won't even have to go to the store for this!

I think it will be the Best of Three Worlds. I guess we'll see. It doesn't sound very fast, but I'm still making it on a weeknight.


I couldn't find lamb in the town freezer, but I did grab a package of ground elk. Should be interesting. And delicious!

Okay. Had there not been excitement on the way home and subsequent emailing and reporting, I would have started this dish much earlier. Oh well. You can't eat on time every night, right?

I didn't really end up following any of the three recipes, except for ingredient lists, so we'll see how this goes. It's such a mishmash of ingredients and techniques and amounts, I believe I've changed more than enough to take credit for it now! It is smelling and looking delicious...but dinner was served almost an hour late. I could have left it in the oven for 5 more minutes to get just a bit more golden, but we were hungry!

And it IS delicious! I really like how it turned out, and ate too much. Number One and H-Bomb liked it too. Sawed Off wasn't really into eating tonight, but I'm sure he would have liked it, if he had tasted it. I guess technically with the elk and beef it should be called more of a Hunter's Pie or a Ranching Hunter's Pie, a Hunting Rancher's Pie? What do you think?

Min's Shepherd Pie
Inspired by Martha Stewart, American Classics, Shell & Alton Brown!

For the topping:
1 1/2 pounds potatoes, cleaned and cut into 1-inch pieces (I don't peel potatoes)
3 parsnips (6 ounces), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup plain yogurt
salt and freshly ground pepper

For the filling:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground elk (or lamb)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 medium onions, chopped coarse
2 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup full-bodied red wine
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon thyme leaves (dried, or chopped if fresh)
1 teaspoon rosemary (dried, or chopped if fresh)
1 cup peas (I used canned, drained; if frozen, thaw first)
1 cup corn (I used canned, drained; if frozen, thaw)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Make the topping: Place potatoes and parsnips in a medium saucepan, cover with water by 2 inches, and bring to a simmer. Cook until fork tender, about 20 minutes. Drain, return to saucepan, add yogurt and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Mash and mix together; season with pepper.

Make the filling: Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add meat and start cooking. Add onions and carrots, cook until vegetables are softened and meat is browned. Add garlic, flour and tomato paste and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the broth, wine and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes until some of the liquid has been absorbed.

Remove from heat. Stir peas, corn, thyme and rosemary into meat mixture and check the seasonings. Pour the meat mixture evenly into a 2 1/2-quart casserole dish. With a large spoon, place the potato topping over the entire filling. Starting at the sides to ensure a tight seal, use a rubber spatula or a spoon to smooth out the potatoes and anchor them to the sides of the baking dish. (you should not see any filling).

Bake until the top turns golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes and serve.


A Year on the Grill said...

I have hunters in my family that I am sending this to. I get too many sausages, and not enough recipes made from the rewards of their efforts!

Min said...

Dave, sausage is great, but I know what you mean! We have some amazing venison recipes on here...look under "Meat & Game" or just search "venison" or "elk" in the box on the top left (blue stripe) of the blog.

Lele said...

Oh wow you definitely got the best of all worlds. I'm so intrigued on the yogurt topping and totally with ya on the root vegetables and love chili powder but not in freakin' shepherd's pie!

Min said...

I know, right? Chili powder just shouldn't be in there. Even though I do love it.
And I love this "pie" so much, and the recipe made so much, I'm serving it for the 3rd night in a row! Good thing the kids like it... =)
I love the topping with the parsnips + yogurt. So good.

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