Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Irish Day My Way...
I’m not Irish and I’ve never been one to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in any way other than to have a few beers – although SOME people seem to think the beer I drink is merely light gold water. Coors Light, I love you. Anyhoo…..I have a friend who makes an ‘Irish meal’ each and every year (she’s not Irish either) for her family of three. She makes corned beef and cabbage….I could never…’cause I hate it. Quick story: my mom is a great cook, and I do mean great. The only things I never liked was tarragon chicken in white wine (because I hate tarragon and I hate alcohol/wine taste in my food) and corned beef, because, well, it was just weird! It ruined a perfectly good pat roast – which I adore. Plus…the one time she made corned beef , the leftovers went in the fridge and the odor/taste of it permeated the milk through the old-fashioned cardboard carton. I remember going to the kitchen to take a big ol’ swig of milk and ‘EWWWWWWWW!” All I got was a mouth full of liquid, white, corned beef! Freaked me out! So, no corned beef for me…..and I’ve tossed pastrami right along in there too ‘cause to me, birds of a feather, know what I’m sayin’? So anyway, I was feeling like I wasn’t fulfilling my duties as a mother by not getting into the spirit of the Irish on this day of green beer, so I decided to make an Irish dish my family would like. I thought of Colcannon – mashed taters with boiled, shredded cabbage, ham or bacon and onions – yum! But then I figured that boiled cabbage – mixed with tates or bacon or even chocolate for that matter! – was not on any teenaged girls list of ‘things I want to eat’. So, I decided on something else I’ve wanted to make lots of times but never had: Shepherd’s Pie….and am I glad I did. Hot, steamy, creamy, savory – and best of all cheap. Does it get any better? I didn’t follow a recipe…I’ve seen a million of them over the years – so I kinda knew what it was all about. I just tossed my own thoughts in the pot. You can to….as long as you have a meat concoction on the bottom and smashed tatoes on the top, it’s pretty much Shepherd’s Pie! Not up to it? Here’s what I did….
1 T olive oil
I small/medium onion, diced1 ½ pounds ground beef
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 T flour
1 small can tomato paste
2 packets brown gravy mix, whisked into 2 cups water
½ package frozen peas/carrots medley
½ package frozen corn
Additional water if needed
2 pouches instant mashed potatoes (I know, I know! Lazy! But hey…some weeknights call for ‘instant’ gratification!) – prepared according to package directions.
Optional – ½ cup shredded cheddar and ½ small can Durkee French Fried Onions
Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Cook onions in large frying pan in olive oil over medium high heat until they begin to turn translucent. Add ground beef and garlic, cooking and stirring until meat is crumbled and just cooked through. Sprinkle with the 2 T flour and mix in well. Add in tomato paste and combined well. Pour in the gravy mix that’s already been mixed with the water along with half of each bag of frozen veggies then bring to a boil. Mixture will thicken quickly. If it gets too thick (you don’t want ‘clay’ but you don’t want ‘soup’ either. You want loose-ish ‘chili’. Know what I mean? If your mixture is too thick, add in more water, about a ½ cup at a time, stirring well to incorporate (if too thin, add in a little more four, but I assure you, this will not be too thin). Once meat mixture is done, spoon it evenly into a 2 quart casserole dish. Next, spoon the potatoes on top of the meat mixture and spread them evenly all the way to the edges. Sprinkle with shredded cheddar and Durkees if desired. Bake for approx. 15-20 minutes or until top is golden brown and sides are bubbling. Enjoy!!!