My dad has witnessed many kitchen nightmares and on occasion, he’d share his experiences. Don’t get me wrong, I still eat out but I know a few things to look for in a clean restaurant and some foods one should avoid.
I’m sure you’ve heard this one but if you’re dining at a new place, have a quick look into the bathroom and see what the condition is like. The bathroom and kitchen are cleaned by the same staff. You do the math about how the state of the kitchen will be where you’re about to eat.
If you see it on special on an other day, chances are you’re getting a decent meal but then again…did you check the bathroom?
Here’s my take on Shepherd’s Pie. This time I was under close scrutiny from restaurant Nick (my dad) and in his senior years, he’s become quite fussy. Without a doubt, restaurant Nick has to be my toughest customer but he grudgingly approved of the meal.
Shepherd’s Pie is traditionally made with ground lamb but I’ve grown up eating it with ground beef. This dish is also known as Cottage Pie and after reading numerous recipes on both sides of the recipe ledger, I can only conclude that the same dish is called Cottage Pie in the UK and Shepherd’s Pie, ‘oer here in the Colonies.
Shepherd’s Pie is a layered, all-in-one meal. You get meat, veggies and starch (potato) – all in one serving. I found the dish quite easy to make, with the toughest part being the piping of the mash potato with the icing bag.
You can surely use a spatula but I find that this action can make your pie layers uneven. My only last note is to use at least 6 medium to large potatoes. The last thing you want is to find out you’re piping out the topping and you’ve run of of mashed potato.
6 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup half/half cream
1 Tbsp. butter
pinch of nutmeg
sweet paprika for topping
2 1/2 cups of frozen mixed vegetables (thawed)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1kg. lean ground beef
1 large onion, diced
1 large carrot, finely diced
1 stalk of celery, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
2 tsp. dry thyme
1 heaping Tbsp. of flour
1 cup of beef stock
1/2 cup mushroom stock (from a bouillon cube)
1 Tbsp. of Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
14″ X 12″ baking dish
- Get a pot of water boiling. Add salt to the water when it boils and add your potatoes. Cool until done. Make them into mashed potatoes, keep warm and reserve.
- Get a large skillet on medium heat and add your oil, onions, celery, carrots and bay leaves, some salt and saute for about 10 minutes.
- Add your garlic and ground beef and turn the heat to high and brown your meat while stirring. When your meat has browned, add your thyme, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste and stir for a couple of minutes.
- Now add your flour and stir it in to incorporate. Add your beef and mushroom stock and allow the beef mixture to simmer on medium heat until you get a thick, almost gravy-like sauce. Take off the heat, remove bay leaves and reserve.
- Preheat your oven to 375F.
- Assemble your Shepherd’s Pie by spreading out the meat mixture on the bottom, then layout your mixed vegetables in the middle and finally using a piping bag, top your Shepherd’s Pie with the mashed potatoes. Sprinkle the top with sweet paprika, which will give your topping a beautiful brown colour.
- Place in the oven on the middle-top rack and bake for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown.
- Let your pie rest for 20 minutes before serving.
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