I blame the Food network - or should I credit them? I think it is credit. I have always been hesitant to try different things because ....... hmmm, I wonder why that was? Fear of failure? never planning? Ignorance? Limited time? Fear of not liking it?- probably all of the above.
I tend to be a rule follower. So when faced with a recipe, I follow it to the letter. At one point, even going so far as to put ingredients I didn't like (like cilantro -Blah!) into the recipe and expecting to like the finished product. D'oh! So recently, I had two recipe breakthroughs. One was at Thanksgiving when I used a stuffing recipe for a starter but then changed it based on what I like and what I had available. I got more compliments on the stuffing this year than I ever did on my usual recipe. Unfortunately, I DIDN'T WRITE DOWN WHAT I DID! So stupid!
My second recipe was Shepherd's Pie. I tried to find a recipe that made sense, and that had ingredients that I remembered from my childhood. I searched the Internet, all my cookbooks, talked to folks at church - no luck. Then I stumbled on an Alton Brown recipe that seemed like I could change it to be even better than the meal I remembered. It worked. And I actually wrote down all the changes. I made it again last night - and it was good!
Now the only problem is it makes enough for 6 people (maybe even 8) and it is so good, I have to portion it out before we eat it all!
Preheat oven to 400° (If you have a glass dish, reduce the heat to 350 and add about 15 minutes)
2 T canola oil
2 carrots, peeled and diced small
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ lb hamburger (I used 80/20)
1 tsp Natures Seasonings
1 T Herb Ox Beef granules (Sodium free)
¼ cup flour
1 T tomato paste
1 to 2 Cups beef stock (I use Kitchen Basics)
2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp chopped thyme leaves
½ to 1 cup frozen corn
½ to 1 cup frozen peas
Potato Ingredients: (I cheat!)
2 - Bob Evans Original Mashed Potatoes, 24 oz - will need about 30-32 oz.
1 - egg yolk
Place the canola oil into a 12-inch saute pan and set over medium high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the carrots and saute just until they begin to take on color, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir to combine. Add the hamburger, seasoning and cook until browned and cooked through, approximately 3 minutes. Sprinkle the meat with the flour and toss to coat, continuing to cook for another minute. (If the hamburger is either very lean or very fatty, you will need to add either more or less flour. You want to absorb much of the fats with flour. Add the tomato paste, 1 cup beef stock, rosemary, thyme, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer slowly 10 to 12 minutes or until the sauce is thickened. You may need to add more beef stock to make a gravy like consistency. Add the corn and peas (amount according to your taste) to the hamburger mixture. Taste for spices and adjust if necessary. Spread evenly into an 11 by 7-inch glass baking dish.
Heat the potatoes in the microwave 3 minutes on high. (Vent as the directions suggest) Stir. You want them warm and easy to handle. Probably will need about ¼ - ½ of the second container. Mix in the egg yolk. Top the meat with the mashed potatoes, starting around the edges to create a seal to prevent the mixture from bubbling up and smooth with a rubber spatula.
Place on a parchment lined half sheet pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25 minutes or just until the potatoes begin to brown. Remove to a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.
Hope you love it too!