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Mama Deb
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Shepherd's Pie

We were invited to Shabbat dinner tonight, which meant I had to think about lunch. Normally, my Shabbat lunch is some version of Shabbat dinner, reheated in a halachically correct way, but no dinner makes that hard.

I could have made half a Shabbat dinner - chicken, kugel, veg - and served that as usual, but. No.

Instead, I made shepherd's pie - or my version of it. It's certainly not authentic, what with the general lack of lamb or mutton.

The filling:

1 pound of ground beef - I like using half chuck and half shoulder so I get a good balance of fat and lean.
One bermuda onion
One red pepper
Pepper, bay leaves, balsamic vinegar, water

I brown the ground beef with a touch of black pepper and put it in a strainer to get rid of any extra fat. Then I sauté the chopped onion and pepper until soft, adding salt, black pepper and vinegar, plus water to make sure it doesn't burn. When the vegetables are cooked and most of the liquid is gone, I combine the two.

The crust:

I cheat here. I take a pound or so of white skin potatoes, and cut them into eighths or so - very small. I do NOT peel them. Then I put them in a microwave safe bowl with about a cup of water plus some salt and pepper, cover them and microwave on HIGH for ten minutes. I let them cool a bit and then I mash them, adding water (preferably but not necessariy hot) if necessary, plus additional salt and pepper.

Notice - no margarine and no soy milk. Just water. This is actually the way I make my mashed potatoes normally, except I might add a couple cloves of garlic in with the potatoes. White skin potatoes cook up very creamy and I find I do not miss the fat at all.

I give the potatoes a final beating with a fork.

I put the meat/veggie mixture into a casserole and cover the top with the potatoes. Tomorrow, it goes into the oven I will leave on over night (except for the timer that will shut it off around midnight and on around 9AM) and will be warm for lunch.


Back when I ate meat I used to make shepherd's pie with ground turkey. (I usually used instant mashed potatoes, because I'm awful that way. But on Passover I used to mash them. And I used to use water of course. I was really fond of it. Yours sounds good.

I thought about turkey, but decided against it.

I don't use the instant stuff much, but that's because I microwave the potatoes.

Another lovely way to moisten mashed potatoes is to use a little low-fat, low-salt chicken stock. Homemade if you've got it, but store-bought works. It adds a lovely almost-buttery flavor. Especially nice when you're serving the potatoes with roast chicken!

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as kosher store-bought low sodium chicken stock. I've looked.

I've tried adding flavors (besides garlic) to the mashed potatoes, but I mostly serve them as a base for other foods anyway. The plain ones are also lovely with meatloaf.

I just found store-bought kosher chicken stock for the first time (never really looked for it until recently)...what would you consider "low sodium"? I can check the label of the one I just bought if you want :)

Your recipe sounds really yummy -- I'm not so great in the kitchen, so is this a recipe that is hard to mess up?

I have found low-sodium chicken stock, but my local stores no longer carry it. :(

This recipe requires a couple of basic kitchen skills - cutting up vegetables and using a sauté pan. If you can do that, you can make this recipe as written, although you might want to salt the meat - kosher meat is salty to start with, so I don't bother. Or you can add soy sauce or worcestershire sauce.

If you can't - if knives bother you, or you always burn what you fry, you can still do this. You just need to make a couple of adaptations, like buying frozen pre-cut-up onions and green peppers, and instant mashed potatoes. I do think that browning the beef is a necessary step, but you can do it over low heat and just stand there stirring (I listen to my mp3 player during these sorts of tasks) until it's brown. You can cook the veggies in the microwave if you want to - there won't be the same intensity of flavor, but it will be fine.

Is leaving the pie in the oven w/o heat for 8 hours really safe? What temperature is it reheated to?

I reheat dry food, so it (as well as everything else I reheat on Shabbat) spends the night in the fridge. We don't like the taste of food kept warm overnight - yes, that includes cholents, so I rarely make them.

My oven is kept at 200°F.

That makes sense - I was just worried that you were leaving it in the oven overnight. We also reheat dry food - we just don't turn the oven off.

We were advised by a stove repairman, after we replaced the igniter for a second time, to not let the stove be on overnight.

Also, it does save on gas.

The psak we got when we asked doesn't allow us to use a timer to turn an oven or hotplate on. It does allow us to turn it off. We know people who have received psaks that do allow it, so I'm not implying anything about your practice. So far we haven't had igniter trouble. We also haven't had problems with self-cleaning once a week, which I've also been told might be a bad idea.

It may be a different psak if there is actual food involved. This timer lives on our stove all the time, if that makes a difference. Even if we don't reheat food, it's there - it doesn't turn the oven on so we can reheat the food.

Honestly, we didn't think it was something to ask about.