Friday, September 6, 2013

Shepherd's Pie

My library books are due tomorrow.  While that normally wouldn't make a difference to a recipe blog, if you have recipes from library books to modify, it makes a big difference.

While I have enjoyed the two recipes I made from Greenspan's Around My French Table, it's not one that is going on my "to buy" list.  Too fancy and time intensive.

This recipe started out in the fancy and time intensive way.  However, I strayed a great deal from the traditional French Hachis Parmentier (fancy pants French way of saying Shepherd's Pie).  I'm including a quick method and a slower method along with a couple of other changes I want to try next time I make this.

This serves 4 - 6.  If you want to make this ahead of time, do all but the potatoes.  Cook and mash the potatoes immediately before it goes in the oven.

Shepherd's Pie
adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Around my French Table

Slow Version Meat
1 lb boneless beef chuck, cut into 1" cubes
1 small onion, sliced
2 carrots, sliced 1/4" thick
1 stalk celery, sliced 1/4"thick
2 garlic cloves, smashed
2 parsley sprigs
1 bay leaf
1 t salt
1/4 t whole black peppercorns
6 c water

1/2 lb ground beef
1 t tomato paste
1-2  c mushrooms, sliced

Fast Version Meat
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 small onion, diced
2 carrots, cut in half and sliced 1/4" thick
1 stalk celery, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 - 2 c mushrooms, sliced
1 t tomato paste
1- 3 c beef broth (you will use this as needed, amt will vary)
salt to taste
2 T parsley, chopped

The Topping (for both versions)
2 lbs potatoes, quartered (or cut into medium chunks)
1/2 c milk
1/4 c heavy cream (optional, can also just use an extra 1/4 c milk)
3 T butter, at room temperature
1/2 c Swiss type cheese (swiss, emmenthal, gruyere, comte, etc), shredded (optional)

For the slow version:
Put the beef chuck, onion, carrots, celery, cloves, parsley, bay leaf, salt, peppercorns, and water into a large soup pot and bring to a boil.  Skim off the foam that comes to the surface.  Lower the heat and simmer for 3 1/2 hours.  Strain the solids from the broth (meat and vegetables), reserving broth.  You won't use much of the broth, you reserve the extra broth for the next time you make the fast version of this.  Transfer the meat to a cutting board and chop into small pieces.  The meat will fall apart.  Set aside both the meat and the vegetables.

Put a large skillet over medium heat.  Brown the ground beef.  Add the mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms release their juices.  Stir in the tomato paste. Add the reserved vegetables and chopped beef.  Stir in a cup of the reserved broth and bring to boil.  You want the beef and vegetables to be moist, but not runny.  Season with salt and pepper.  Pour into a 2 qt oven casserole dish.  Set aside.

For the fast version:
In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef.  Add the onions, celery, and mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms release their juices and the onions have softened.  Add the garlic and saute another minute.  Stir in the carrots.  Add the tomato paste and 1 c beef broth.  Bring to a boil and simmer until the carrots are tender, adding more broth if the mixture gets dry.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir in the parsley.  Pour into a 2 qt casserole dish.  Set aside.

For the topping (both versions):

While the ground beef browns, put the potatoes in a medium pot and add just enough water cover potatoes.  Bring the covered pot to a boil and simmer until potatoes are fork tender, about 20 minutes.  Drain well.  As soon as you are able, peel the potatoes (potatoes should still be very, very hot).  Heat up milk/cream.  Mash potatoes (I use an electric mixer to do this, you can do it however you prefer).  Pour in milk/cream, add butter, and continue to mash.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Scoop the mashed potatoes over the meat and vegetables, spreading them evenly throughout the pan. Sprinkle grated cheese over top if desired.  If you want, you can also dot the top with small pieces of butter (use a total of 1 T butter).

Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until filling is bubbly and the potatoes are golden. (If you don't use butter or cheese, the potatoes won't be quite as golden).

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