Tag Archives: Gravy

Shepherds Pie, American Style

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I call this recipe “Shepherds Pie, American Style” because I have read or heard much debate through the years about the authentic ingredients for shepherds, or cottage pie. While it is true that many might say “this is not Shepherds Pie if it contains no lamb!” I beg to differ. Oh yes, I am well aware that because it is made with beef as opposed to lamb that it should rightfully be called “Cottage Pie”. But that’s not what they called it when I learned to love it!

I apologize for bringing up my childhood twice in as many posts but is that not truly when many of our adult likes and dislikes are formed? When I was in elementary school one of my favorite, absolute favorite dishes on the cafeteria (or cafetorium) menu was named “Shepherd’s Pie” and this recipe is my rendition of that dish. This is how I remember it tasting and once again we’re talking comfort food, so this is how I prepare it.

Honestly, I won’t be insulted if you call it cottage pie; call it anything you like…what really matters to me is that it tastes good. After all if we were really going to get down to brass tacks then do you think that stuff they served at the “PTA Spaghetti Dinners” would pass as Spaghetti with a true Italian? Ha! I think not. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t gobble it up with enthusiasm each and every time I ate it. I hope you do the same with this recipe.

Notes: I use a fork to “rake” the top of the potatoes because I think it facilitates browning and creates a crispier crust. I do not use cheese because they didn’t use any when I was a kid. Please feel free to add anything you like to the recipe. (On that note, I think I will add a cup of chopped green onions to the potatoes the next time around.)

Shepherd’s Pie, American Style

1 Lb – Lean Ground Beef
1 Cup – Carrots, diced large
1 Cup – Celery, diced large
1 Cup – Onion, chopped
32 Oz – Lower Sodium Beef Broth
2-3 Tbsp – Red wine, chilled
2 Tbsp – HP (or A1) Steak sauce
2 Tbsp – Unbleached All Purpose Flour
1 Tbsp – Dried Thyme
1 Tbsp – Dried Tarragon
8 Oz – Frozen Sweet Peas
3 Lbs – Red Bliss Potatoes, cut in (roughly) 1 inch chunks
2 Cups – Low Fat Buttermilk, plus a little extra if needed
Kosher Salt & Fresh Ground Black Pepper, to taste
Olive Oil

In a large sauté pan over medium heat warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil until shimmering. Stir in carrots, celery, and onion along with ½ Tbsp each of thyme and tarragon. Cook stirring occasionally until the onions become translucent, about 10 minutes.

Add the ground beef to the pan and break it up with a fork while stirring to mix. Add the remainder of the thyme and tarragon along with about ¼ tablespoon of pepper and the steak sauce. Continue cooking and stirring occasionally until the beef has browned. When the beef has browned and cooked through, add the broth and simmer while you prepare the potatoes.

Place potatoes in a large pot with enough water to cover them by ½ inch. Add about 1/8 cup of kosher salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower heat to medium and cook until potatoes are fork-tender, about 20 minutes.

Pre-Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

When the beef & broth mixture has simmered at least 20 minutes, strain about 1 cup of the hot stock into a bowl. Add 2 -3 tablespoons of cold red wine and set aside to cool while you mash the potatoes.

When the potatoes are very tender carefully drain them in a colander or strainer allowing them to sit a few minutes to steam off excess moisture. Place hot potatoes in a large bowl and using a potato masher, dough cutter, or a large fork mash in about 1 cup of the buttermilk. Continue mashing until the liquid has been absorbed, then drizzle in the second cup of buttermilk while still mashing the potatoes. If the potatoes are still too dry drizzle in a little extra buttermilk, while mashing, until the mashed potatoes reach your desired consistency.

Whisk 2 Tbsp of flour into the reserved stock and wine mixture then stir this into the simmering beef mixture along with the frozen peas. Stir gently until everything is incorporated, heated through, and slightly thickened then spoon or pour the mixture into a 9” X 13” casserole. Using a spoon and your fingers if necessary spread the potatoes over the top of the beef mixture.

Before baking, smooth the top of the potatoes, then use the back of a fork to create parallel 1/8 inch deep “grooves” along the length of the entire dish to give the topping some texture. Place in the oven and bake 30 minutes. Carefully remove the dish from the oven and rest 10 minutes before serving.

Enjoy,

Randy

Turkey Croquettes with Pan Gravy

Making the salmon cakes last week brought another old favorite to mind, Turkey Croquettes. The original recipe called for making the gravy with cream of celery soup and although I was tempted I opted for cleaning this one up a little bit and making it fresh. The recipe looks involved but I would honestly consider it intermediate to easy. That reminds me that I have been meaning to mention one of my favorite kitchen tips.

Kitchen Tips: To boost your confidence a little it is always a good idea to read a recipe through start to finish at least once if not twice before you begin preparing it.

Speaking of cleaning it up a friend mentioned possibly converting this recipe into an Atkins Diet version and I think it would be fairly easy to do. For a lower carb gravy you could 1) use almond flour instead of whole wheat flour or 2) eliminate the flour altogether and simply thicken the gravy by boiling it a little longer and allowing the broth time to reduce.

For the croquettes my first thought was simply to eliminate the bread crumbs but that might result in too dense of a croquette. One of the things I really like about this recipe is the lightness of the final product so I think I would prefer to use a cup pork rind crumbs instead of completely doing away with the filler. I know that may sound like an odd substitution but I have tried it in other (low carb) recipes and it works quite well for this type of diet.

Notes: The easiest way that I have found to form these croquettes is to use the lid from a Ball mason jar as a ring mold. To do this, simply set the removable “top” of the mason jar lid aside and lay a sheet of plastic wrap over the ring shaped threaded part of the lid. Now, with the lid sitting top-down on a flat surface use a wooden spoon to press in just enough of the turkey mixture to fill the lid completely, flatten and level off the top, then turn the lid over to gently pop out your formed patty.

Turkey Croquettes with Pan Gravy

For the patties…

1.25 Lbs – Lean ground Turkey
1 Cup – Soft Whole Wheat bread crumbs
1 – Small onion, diced small
1 – Large branch of celery, diced small
1 – Small carrot, grated
1 – Small clove of garlic, finely minced
1 Tbsp – Tomato paste
1 Splash – Worcestershire sauce
1 Cup – Chicken stock, divided into ½ cups
1 – Egg, lightly beaten
½ Tsp – Dried tarragon
½ Tsp – Rubbed sage
Kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper
Olive oil

For the gravy…

2 Tbsp – Whole Wheat flour
2 Cups – Chicken stock
1 Tbsp – Plain yogurt

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat until shimmering. Sauté the onion, celery, and carrot for two minutes then add the tarragon, sage, and 1/2 teaspoon each of kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. Continue cooking stirring occasionally until the onions begin to turn translucent then stir in the tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce and cook 2 minutes more. Stir in ½ cup of chicken stock and allow the mixture to cook until most of the moisture has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the second ½ cup of chicken stock and the minced garlic, allow the mixture to come back to a boil then remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool for at least 5 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl gently break apart the ground turkey then fold in the bread crumbs, egg, and the onion mixture. Gently fold the mixture until all the ingredients are incorporated but not over-mixed. Form the mixture into 10 to 12 equally sized patties and placing them on a foil or wax paper lined cookie sheet as you go. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer for at least 10 – 15 minutes to firm up the patties before browning.

In the same pan, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and warm over medium heat until the oil is shimmering hot. Swirl the pan to evenly distribute the oil then gently place half of the patties (do not crowd) in the pan. Shake the pan a little to prevent sticking and brown 3 to 4 minutes on each side. When the patties are browned remove them from the pan and place on a cooling rack or paper towel to hold. Wipe the pan and repeat this process until all of the patties are browned. Do not wipe the pan after the last batch saving the oil and browned bits for the gravy.

After the last batch of patties are browned and removed from the pan add two tablespoons of whole wheat flour to the pan and stir to create a roux. There should be just enough oil and flour to create a smooth, almost liquid, paste; add a little more olive oil if the roux seems too dry. Cook, stirring until the flour begins to take on some color, about 5 minutes, then whisk in 1 cup of the broth. When the first cup of broth is incorporated, whisk in the second cup of broth and continue whisking slowly until the gravy begins to boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and check the gravy for seasoning. Add kosher salt & fresh ground pepper if needed.

Return the croquettes to the pan coating each one with the gravy, then simmer 10 minutes more. Serve croquettes over rice, egg noodles, or toast points as desired.

Enjoy!

Randy

Casserole of Chicken, Quinoa, & Brown Rice with Mushrooms

(or What to do with all that Chicken Stock – Part 1)

As a follow up to Singing The Praises Of Chicken Stock I wanted to post a series of recipes that use chicken stock (or broth) in various ways. At the risk of repeating myself, stock is a valuable ingredient in healthful cooking and a means of boosting the flavor in what otherwise might be a boring and uninteresting dish. My recipes will always call for stock because I like the flavor but you may certainly substitute broth if you like.

Second only to the chicken stock, the mushrooms create a lot of flavor in this recipe. To coax as much flavor as possible from them I start cooking the mushrooms in a hot, hot pan. Because of the high water content in mushrooms, they create a lot of liquid in the pan as they cook. With the pan very hot, this excess water cooks away quickly leaving the mushrooms to brown. On a lower temperature the mushroom would steam instead of browning…that’s not what I want in this recipe!

I know I have mentioned Seeds Of Change quinoa & whole grain brown rice in a previous post. I can’t recommend this product enough; if you come across it at Costco or otherwise please do give it a try. I use it here because it is convenient, healthy, and the spices blend perfectly with the other ingredients. Other starch suggestions for this recipe would be brown rice, couscous, or even orzo. Check for seasonings if you use a mix, I needed no additional salt with the quinoa.

This one is rich enough that the only side I served it with was a nice green salad and was plenty for two with leftovers.

Casserole of Chicken, Quinoa, & Brown Rice with Mushrooms

1 – Large Boneless Chicken Breast Half (about 12 oz.), halved lengthwise from the top and sliced very thin (as for a stir fry)
8 oz – Fresh Mushrooms, sliced
1 – Small Onion, chopped
2 – Celery branches, sliced (leaves add flavor…use them too!)
1 Clove – Garlic, minced
2 Sprigs – Fresh Thyme, left whole
2 Cups – Chicken Stock
2 Cups – Quinoa & Whole Grain Brown Rice, pre-cooked
2 Tbsp – Unbleached Flour
Olive Oil
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
About 1/4 Cup – Panko Breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a large (12”) skillet over medium high heat. When the oil just begins to smoke, carefully add the mushrooms and cook them stirring constantly much as you would a stir fry. When the mushrooms begin to release their liquid slow down a little on the stirring but keep them spread out so the liquid will evaporate quickly.

As the mushrooms dry and begin to brown, stir in the onions, celery, garlic, thyme, and ½ teaspoon of fresh ground pepper. Lower the heat to medium and continue cooking and stirring until the onions soften. (Note: The mushrooms should be getting nice and brown by now. Don’t worry if some of the vegetables stick a little bit…they will loosen when you add the stock.)

When the onions become tender and translucent stir in the chicken, separating the slices and blending them carefully into the mixture. Continue cooking and stirring gently for another 5 minutes then Stir in one tablespoon of the flour until well mixed. Stir in the second tablespoon of flour and cook, stirring gently, for one minute more. Stir in one cup of stock and cook until some thickening begins. Stir in the other cup of stock and cook until bubbling and thickened.

Remove the thyme sprigs and discard, then stir in the quinoa and gently mix until thoroughly incorporated. Pour all into a 9X9 casserole, sprinkle just enough breadcrumbs to cover evenly on top. Bake 25 minutes, allow a few minutes to rest and enjoy!

Randy

Mock Carbonnade a La Flamande

Dear friends of ours stayed at our house for a few days this past week and as dear friends will do, they left a few beers behind. As I surveyed the fridge situation on Sunday morning I was already thinking of beef, maybe a pot roast or a stew, and when I spotted the bottles of Shiner Bock my mind was made up…Carbonnade a La Flamande! At the market I found a sale on beef chuck mock tenderloins and decided this would be a fun challenge.

Carbonnade a La Flamande is a rich Belgian stew of beef, caramelized onions, and beer usually with a sweet and sour flavor not unlike a good sauerbraten. The irony was that I was using Shiner Bock instead of a deeply flavored Belgian ale as the base in a stew of “mock” tenderloin steaks. So while this is NOT a true Carbonnade a La Flamande, it does borrow some of the great character from one of my favorite Belgian dishes.

If you are not familiar with beef chuck mock tenderloins they are simply steaks cut from the chuck eye roast. They produce a mostly round steak that looks something like a tenderloin steak. Chuck is still chuck though and tender they are not, hence the “Mock” part of the name. This cut is flavorful but best suited to slow braising or long tenderizing marinades.

Other notes: Brown the steaks in a pan if you prefer, I kind of like the broiler for larger pieces of meat. A mostly whole star anise should do the trick but be sure to remove any pieces that break off during the cooking. I served these with whole wheat wide egg noodles and blanched then sautéed snap beans with garlic. Oh, and if you want to use a real Belgian ale I recommend Chimay Blue …just be sure to have another one on hand to enjoy with your steak!

Mock Carbonnade a La Flamande

5 to 7 – Beef Mock Tenderloin Steaks (About 2 Lbs)
3 – Medium Onions, Sliced
1 Tbsp – Tomato Paste
12 Oz – Medium Bodied Beer
1 Cup – Chicken Stock
1 Tbsp – Beef Soup Base (I used Demi-Glace Gold )
1 Star – Star Anise
1 Large Sprig – Fresh Thyme
1 Large Sprig – Fresh Rosemary
1 Tbsp – Red Wine Vinegar
Olive Oil
Kosher Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Warm a tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy stew pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Stir in tomato paste, star anise, onions, and a ¼ teaspoon of fresh ground pepper. As the onions begin to sizzle lower the temperature to medium low and continue cooking stirring often. Meanwhile, line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and coat with a thin film of oil (I used a spritz of Olive Oil Cooking Spray). Use a paper towel to pat the steaks dry and arrange them evenly on the cookie sheet. Brush or drizzle each steak with olive oil and season well on both sides with kosher salt and pepper. Continue cooking and stirring the onions 15 minutes or so until they begin to turn a deep golden color then stir in the thyme and rosemary…keep cooking and stirring the onions while you brown the steaks.

Set the oven (broiler) rack 3” below the element or flame. Place the steaks on the rack and turn the broiler on high. (Note: If your broiler is electric leave the door slightly ajar; if your broiler is gas fueled close the door.) Broil the steaks 4-6 minutes watching them closely until a nice brown crust has formed, carefully turn and broil 4 minutes more or until nicely browned.  Remove the steaks and set aside to rest while prepping your braise.

Reduce the oven heat to 300. Remove the star anise from the onions and discard. Stir beer, soup base, and chicken stock into the onions and raise the heat to medium high. Stir occasionally until the liquid just begins to boil, place the steaks into the pot, cover firmly and bake for 2 hours. After two hours remove from heat, leave covered, and set aside to rest.

Wait at least 20 minutes to remove the steaks to a serving platter; place the pot back on the burner over medium high heat. As the liquid comes to a boil reduce the heat to medium, stir in the vinegar and allow the gravy to cook until your desired thickness is reached.

Spoon the gravy over your steaks, serve and enjoy!