Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Something I've Been Wanting To Try

Allow me to give you a little bit of backstory here, otherwise you won't fully understand where I'm coming from when I say that sometimes, I love "poor food".

See, I grew up in a mixed family with three older half-siblings and one younger brother from my mom's second marriage. We struggled financially for a long time, with both of my parents working two jobs a lot of the time. The thing is, I didn't think we were "poor" till about the time I got to high school and realized that a lot of my favorite foods were nothing like the foods my friends were used to. Kraft mac n' cheese mixed with tuna and canned peas? NOM!! But, to my friends, it was repulsive to even imagine eating that, but I noshed on this at least once a week. I actually remember times that my mom would cut in powdered milk mixture with our regular gallon of milk when it got too low, so that we'd have milk to last until payday.

One of my all-time favorite, stick-to-your-ribs meals was my mom's shephard's pie. It was a simple recipe of mashed potatoes and canned green beans layered with a ground beef & cream of mushroom soup mixture that she probably came up with one night when she was looking in our pantry, thinking to herself, "Dear God, how am I going to feed five kids with this?"

Fast forward about 15 or 20 years and you have me performing the same act in front of our barren pantry, two days away from payday. It was one of those blustery days, raining cats and dogs outside with a strong wind where I just wanted to curl up on the couch and watch Food Network all evening. My fiance looks at me with puppy-dog eyes that only said one thing, "Feed me." The light bulb went on, and instinctively I started peeling potatoes and chopping garlic to make my mom's shephard's pie.

-2 tbsp olive oil
-1lb lean ground turkey or beef
-1 medium onion, chopped
-4 to 6 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
-2 cloves of garlic, minced
-1/4 cup milk
-4 tbsp butter
-1 can of green beans,drained
-1 packet instant brown gravy
-Salt and pepper

Directions: Preheat oven to 350F. In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. add the onion and cook until the onion turns transparent, then add the ground turkey/beef. While that's cooking, place the potatoes in a medium-sized saucepan and pour in enough water to just cover the potatoes. Cook the potatoes on high heat until fork-tender, drain. By now, the meat should be cooked thoroughy; drain any extra liquid and set aside. To the potatoes, add the garlic, butter, milk and salt & pepper, then whip until you achieve your desired consistency (some people prefer their mashed potatoes to be lumpier than others. Me? I like 'em smooth, baby).

In a deep dish round pie pan or 9"x9" square pan, put in the green beans, then layer on the meat mixture and top with the mashed potatoes. Bake for approximately 20-30 minutes. While that's cooking, cook the brown gravy as instructed on the back of the packet. Once you plate the shepherd's pie, pour a generous amount of the brown gravy on top.

My thoughts: This recipe is slightly different than my mom's because I don't like mushrooms one bit (taste or consistency), so I decided to remove that element from the meat mixture and instead use a brown gravy on top. But, if you want to try it her way, by all means, give it a shot. :)
Future-husband LOVED it, he had two helpings, plus more for lunch the next day!
I know it's not the traditional pub version of shephard's pie, but in a pinch, it does the trick just fine and dandy. It may not photograph well, but what it lacks in beauty, it more than makes up for in taste. Plus, the fact that it's quick and easy makes it that much more enjoyable.


P.S. I'm still getting used to photographing for my blog now that I'm here in South Florida, so please bear with me! Thanks!