Thursday, September 29, 2011

Shepherd's Pie with a Twist

To say that I enjoy the Food Network is an understatement. I love it. I watch it almost everyday. A few of my favorites are chefs are: Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa), Giada De Laurentiis (Everyday Italian), Melissa D'Arabian ($10 Dinners), and Aarti Sequeria (Aarti Party). One of the shows I watched this summer, was 'The Next Food Network Star'. Basically, chefs are competing for a chance to win their own cooking show on FN. On one episode, the contestants had a cupcake challenge, where quite a few tasty morsels were invented (I may be doing another post on one of the cupcakes, it involved strawberries and red wine). The chefs also had to appear on the Rachel Ray show and do a live cooking demo. One chef (Mary Beth Albright) made a Shepherd's Pie with a potato crust on the BOTTOM and a carrot puree over the TOP! What?! That's genius and really, really cool. So I set off to find the recipe. I searched the Internet high and low... and there was nothing. I checked Food Network's website, the chef's blog, website and Facebook page. Nada. But I didn't give up, I made up my own! Shepherd's Pie itself isn't complicated, so I looked up a recipe for carrot puree (find it here) and got started!



Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, and spray a 9X13 pan with non-stick cooking spray. Peel and quarter 1 1/3 pounds of russet potatoes Put 'em in a pot and cover 'em with an inch or two of cold water. Smash and peel 4 garlic cloves and throw those in the pot with 1/2 tsp salt. Bring to a boil and simmer over medium high heat for 20-25 minutes until cooked through. As soon as potatoes are done, drain them and add back to the pot. Add 1 TB of butter, 2 TB milk and some pepper then blend with hand mixer until smooth. Add more milk if needed. Spread potatoes into the bottom of your already-sprayed pan. Bake for 15 minutes or until potatoes are browned.












While potatoes are cooking. Peel and chop one pound of carrots. Simmer carrots, garlic, broth, and salt in a 1- to 2-quart heavy saucepan, covered, until carrots are very tender, 12 to 14 minutes. Puree mixture with cream and butter in a food processor until smooth.


While carrots are cooking, heat a non-stick pan over medium heat and spray with cooking spray. When pan is hot, add ground beef and break into smallish pieces (I LOVE to use this when I cook ground meats). While ground beef is cooking, chop a medium onion, 2 cloves garlic and 3 stalks of celery and add to the beef. When beef is browned and vegetables are tender, add 1/2 cup frozen peas, season with salt (I love to use Johnny's seasoning salt) and about 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce. Let cook for a few more minutes then set aside.


Once potatoes are browned, take them out of the oven and pour the ground beef mixture over the potatoes. Truth time... I tried to use a piping bag and a star tip to decorate the top of the casserole, buuuuut I didn't have enough puree. So it was spread over the top instead! Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, and voila! It was honestly quite delicious, but next time, I would add more ground beef, potatoes, and vegetables to the mix to bulk it up. The recipe below reflects those changes. Next time I might add some lentils to the ground beef mixture, that would bulk up the fiber and protein factors. Another thought I had was to mix the carrot puree into the mashed potatoes and put that mixture on top... The options are endless!!! If you try this recipe, I'd love to hear what you think.  

Shepherd's Pie with a Twist

For the potatoes:
2 Lbs (about 3 large) russet potatoes
3/4 tsp salt
5 garlic cloves
1 TB butter
3-5 TB milk
1/2 tsp each garlic powder and onion powder (optional)

For the carrot puree:
1 lb carrots halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 garlic cloves
2/3 cup stock of choice
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons half and half
1 TB butter

For the beef mixture:
1 1/2 Lb ground beef (could use lamb, turkey, chicken, etc)
1 onion
4 stalks celery
1 c green beans (or other vegetable you like)
1 c corn (or other vegetable you like)
2 cloves garlic
1 c peas
3 tsp Worcestershire sauce
seasoning salt

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, and spray a 9X13 pan with non-stick cooking spray. Peel and quarter potatoes. Put them in a pot and cover with an inch or two of cold water. Smash and peel  garlic cloves and throw those in the pot with 1/2 tsp salt. Bring to a boil and simmer over medium high heat for 20-25 minutes until cooked through. As soon as potatoes are done, drain them and add back to the pot. Add butter, 3 TB milk and some pepper as well as garlic and onion powders then blend with hand mixer until smooth. Add more milk if needed. Spread potatoes into the bottom of your already-sprayed pan. Bake for 15 minutes or until potatoes are browned.

2. While potatoes are cooking. Peel and chop one pound of carrots. Simmer carrots, garlic, broth, and salt in a 1- to 2-quart heavy saucepan, covered, until carrots are very tender, 12 to 14 minutes. Puree mixture with cream and butter in a food processor until smooth.

3. While carrots are cooking, heat a non-stick pan over medium heat and spray with cooking spray. When pan is hot, add ground beef and break into smallish pieces. While ground beef is cooking, chop onion, garlic and vegetables then add to the beef. When beef is browned and vegetables are tender, add peas, season with salt (I love to use Johnny's seasoning salt) and about 3 tsp Worcestershire sauce. Let cook for a few more minutes then set aside.

4. Once potatoes are browned, take them out of the oven and pour the ground beef mixture over the potatoes. Then spread the carrot puree over the beef. Bake for 20-25 minutes until heated through. Enjoy!
  

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