Sore Fingers and Stocked Freezers

The flip flops have been exchanged for Ugg boots, and cold weather is here to stay for the next several months.  As much as I’ve complained about the looming cold weather’s effects on my Summer garden, the dip in temperatures has given me an opportunity to practice one of my favorite Fall activities…..

Squirreling everything possible away like a crazy and deranged food hoarder!

Image result for hoarding squirrel

I have no idea why, but I love getting everything squared away for winter.  I guess it’s just nice to make the best use of everything.  Somewhere between Labor Day and Halloween I start to act like an old time-y prairie grandma, and I feel an overwhelming responsibility to “put everything up” for the winter…..and I don’t feel bad about that at all!

One of my least favorite tasks of pre-winter hoarding is sorting out all the herbs.  It’s easy, and so important because I do cook with them all winter long, but it does lead to cold, damp, and slightly sore fingers.  My preferred way of preserving my herbs is to freeze them.  It works quite well, and is faster than drying I think.  Plus, I have a secret tip that really saves a ton of prep work time when you need to use the herbs.

First, you’ll need to gather up all your herbs.  I had thyme, oregano, and cilantro that needed to be dealt with this year.  The cilantro was the easiest.  Just cut off near the soil, wash well, and freeze on a cookie sheet.  Once the cilantro is frozen, transfer to a freezer bag and try and remove as much air as possible.  Pull out as needed for Mexican nights or game day guacamole.  I find the beauty of freezing them is that they tend to behave very similar to fresh once you add them into recipes.

The thyme and oregano takes a bit more work, but it isn’t hard.  If you have a delicate, wispy thyme plant you might be able to get away with freezing everything whole.  I am apparently some sort of thyme miracle worker and managed to grow a small herb tree.  No one wants twigs in their tomato sauce, so I have to pluck all the leaves off the stalks.

I like to place a freezer bag into a quart sized, wide mouth canning jar, and then just strip the leaves off directly into the bag.  Pinch the base of each twig and gently pull towards the thinner end.  For large, multi branched stems you will need to probably pluck each stem singularly.  With a little practice and patience you should end up with a bunch of tiny thyme leaves in the bag and a garbage can full of naked….or nearly naked mini trees.  Close the bag, leaving some air in, and toss in the freezer.  Once the leaves have frozen, crumple them slightly to break them up and remove the air from the bag.

Follow the same process for the oregano as you do for the thyme.  Here comes the time saving secret!  Once the leaves have frozen…..give them a really good crumpling and crunching.  Ta da…..instant chopped oregano leaves!  Thyme is so small it doesn’t matter, but basil and oregano leaves can get quite large and in charge.  The post freeze crumple is much faster than chopping everything before freezing!

If you’re looking for a tasty and filling way to use up some of your frozen herbs, might I suggest Chicken Pot Pie Soup!  I made it this week and it was a massive success….AND I DON’T EVEN LKE POT PIES!

Soup is one of The Engineer’s favorites, and even though he would eat soup when it’s 100 degrees outside, I refuse to make it.  This chicken pot pie soup will certainly become a standard in our winter rotation, and it’s easy enough to whip up quickly on a school night!

Chicken Pot Pie Soup

  • 8 oz butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup flour
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp fresh frozen thyme
  • 2 tbsp fresh frozen oregano
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1 large potato, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 2 cups half and half or milk
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 3 cups rotisserie chicken meat, cubed
  • 1/4 pound deli ham. sliced
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a large stock pot, melt the butter over medium heat.  Once melted, add the garlic and onion, cooking until fragrant and translucent.  Slowly add in the flour, whisking vigorously to form a smooth rue.  Cook the flour for a few minutes being careful to stir so the mixture doesn’t burn.  We need to cook out the raw flour taste, so just keep an eye on it and let it go a bit golden brown. Whisk the chicken stock into the rue being sure to get out any lumps.  Add the potato, carrots, and spices and cook until the veggies are tender.

Once you potato and carrot are tender, add the peas, ham, chicken, and half and half.  Drop the temperature to simmer, and just let everything warm through.

IMG_0058

Serve up hearty bowls of this you’re sure to keep the chilly temps at bay.  For regular nights I would serve it up with a nice loaf of crusty bread for dipping.  Or, if you’re feeling extra fancy….or like me, you have some spare pie crust sitting in the freezer…..you can make some crust crisps to give it a more traditional “pot pie” feeling.

I just rolled my dough into a large rectangle, cut thin strips, and twisted into fun little pie sticks.  I topped with a bit of sea salt and baked at 375 for 20 minutes.  Some of them did come untwisted in the oven, but they were still flakey and delish!

img_0060.jpg

Herby, warm, and delicious!

Cleaning out the Freezer and Hauling in the Veggies

Hunting season has started in states all over the country, and you know what that means?!  You need to get all the old meat out of your freezer before you start adding fresh stock!  Annoyingly, The Engineer and I didn’t draw any deer tags this year.  Frankly we should probably be hoarding our meat for the upcoming winter, but I guess if we have to go vegetarian over the winter that’s what happens.

To go along with our meat, we suddenly had a small surplus of fresh tomatoes out of the garden.  Late summer is a strange time like that.  Surpluses of fresh veggies, fruits, and herbs are all at your disposal, but you freezer might be less with just huge roasts and some less than stellar cuts of meat.  Since discovering that my Kitchenaid is more than capable of grinding up a large elk roast, we’ve become less worried about using up all our pounds of burger meat….we just make more!

I decided it was time to whip up a new recipe, and I really couldn’t have been happier with how things turned out.  It seemed like it had been weeks since I’d spent anytime in the kitchen making dinner, so I decided to really do it up this week!  Due solely to the fact that I don’t every decide to do things until late, prepping dinner actually took 2 days!  Don’t panic, it’s not hard nor does it take that long….I just didn’t have a plan going into things!

STEP 1:  Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

I had probably around 2  or 2.5 pounds of large tomatoes out of the garden.  We have two heirloom varieties, Cherokee Black and Siberian Prince, and they seem to have suddenly kicked production into high gear.  I simply blanched the tomatoes whole until the skin started to split and then peel and rough chop.  I didn’t bother to deseed the tomatoes, I just tossed the rough chunks into a medium sauce pan.  If you don’t have access to fresh, garden tomatoes, start with a quart of canned tomatoes.

To my quart of tomatoes I added:

  • Half a yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped roughly
  • 2 tablespoons each fresh minced thyme and oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil….our basil plant had a rough go of things this summer 😦
  • Salt and Pepper

Cook on medium until just before boiling before dropping the temperature to low.  Let simmer for 20-30 minutes.  If you’re going to eat it immediately, you may want to let it simmer longer…..longer is always better!  I of course started this whole process around 9pm….so after it simmered I placed it into the fridge for use later!

STEP 2: Elk and Herb Meatballs

I didn’t have a plan for using my tomato sauce when I made it, I just didn’t want that many tomatoes to go bad before I had a chance to use them!  The next night I was sitting around thinking….and it occurred to me….we need meatballs!  After consulting a variety of cookbooks I had laying around I settled on a variation of  Anthony Bourdain’s recipe of meatball sandwich meatballs and Steven Rinella’s recipe for wild game meatballs.

Anthony recommends a blend a veal, pork, and beef….and while I’m sure that makes a delicious, more traditional Italian meatball….those aren’t the meats I have hanging out in my freezer.  Steven’s recipe calls for raw onions and milk soaked breadcrumbs in your meatballs, but Anthony says to sweat the onions and add dry crumbs…..so I sweated some onion and added crumbs and milk!

In a small pan heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat and add:

  • Half a yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped roughly
  • 2 tablespoons each fresh minced thyme and oregano

Sweat the onions, garlic, and herbs together until the onions to translucent and soft.  Set aside and allow to cool slightly.  You’re maybe sensing a theme here, but trust me you really can’t over do the Italian flavors!  See what I mean when I say if I had planned this out better…..just chop double once and you’ll be able to whip up meatballs and sauce together in no time flat.

In a large bowl add:

  • 1 pound ground elk
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 milk
  • Cooled onion and garlic mixture

Mix lightly until everything seemed combined and the herbs, onion, and garlic seem evenly sprinkled throughout.  Form into golfball sized balls and set on a lightly greased baking sheet.  I got 13 meatballs from the pound of meat.  Also, I know it’s probably slightly controversial…but I didn’t add any fat to my meat mixture.  I still think they turned out great, but I feel I’m making Italians grandmas the world over shudder in terror!

My next step might also be slightly controversial…..but just stick with me.  We weren’t going to eat the meatballs that night because once again in was much later than one should be making meatballs.  Third day simply had to be the charm for enjoying this meal so I decided I would toss the meatballs and sauce in the slow cooker so everything would be ready to enjoy right after work.  Sounds fine, but I was suddenly overcome with fear that my glorious, raw meatballs would dissolve in the crockpot and leave me with a delicious meat sauce.  Meat sauce after I had ‘slaved away’ making meatballs wasn’t something I was willing to risk…..so I broiled my meatballs!

IMG_1572-1

IT WORKED GREAT!

Simply turn your broiler on Low and give your meatballs 8-10 minutes for form a nice crust.  Turn them every couple minutes to prevent burning and provide an even caramelization.

I put a thin layer of sauce down in the bottom of my crockpot, layered in my meatballs, and then tossed the whole thing back in the fridge.  The next morning I topped them with the remaining sauce and set them to cook on low while I went to work.  8 hours later I came home to delicious smells and a crockpot full of happy meatballs and a sauce that had slow cooked to thick, robust perfection.

Serve with your favorite noodles, or in my case spaghetti squash from the garden, and enjoy.  I added cheese, a hefty slice of garlic bread, and a class of wine.  Perfect easy dinner to come home to, and I promise it won’t take you 3 days to get there!

IMG_9980

Enter a caption

Life’s a Garden…Eat It!

It’s that time of year again….time to plant some delicious veggies, water daily, and wait for the magic to happen!  This year was a much more enjoyable planting season since we didn’t have to dig out and dispose of sod first!  Plus, it’s much easier to break up soil that’s been tilled once already.

I decided that last year’s layout wasn’t a great use of space.  It just felt like we had a ton of open dirt.  I know you aren’t supposed to crowd plants, but I like the idea of knowing where my food comes from.  Doesn’t get much fresher than the backyard!  A little reorganization was due this year to really optimize our veggie producing potential.  Last year we grew-

  • 3 Spaghetti Squash Plants
  • 2 Rows of Green Beans
  • 1 Full Sized Tomato Plants — Cherokee Purple
  • 2 Cherry Tomato Pants — Indigo Rose Variety
  • 3 Pepper Plants — 2 Banana Peppers, Cajun Bell
  • 3 Kohlrabi
  • 2 Patio Pots of Herbs — Basil, Thyme, and Oregano
  • 1 Patio Pot of Lettuce Mix and Kale (Kept at an anti bunny nibbling height)

This year we have planted

  • 3 Spaghetti Squash Plants
  • 2 Rows of Green Beans (They are being eaten alive by bugs, we might not get beans)
  • 2 Full Sized Tomato Plants — Cherokee Purple and Siberian Prince
  • 2 Cherry Tomato Plants — Chocolate Sprinkle and Yellow Cherry
  • 2 Rows of Snap Peas
  • 4 Kohlrabi
  • 3 Peppers — Orange Bell, Giant Marconi, and Anaheim
  • A smattering of White Onions (In the direct sight line of the bunnies, so fingers crossed)
  • 2 Patio Pots of Herbs — Basil Blend, Thyme, Oregano, Cilantro
  • 1 Patio Pot of Lettuce Mix, Kale, and Arugula (Still at an anti-bunny height!)

We did do some rotating, tomatoes down to the side with the sprinkler system leak since they enjoy lots of water, and beans and peas over to the dryer side of the garden.  The only veggie that didn’t move locations are the squash.  Since the mowing is hired out by my HOA, if the squash head towards the rocks I can keep them from getting mowed to death by the high school boys the lawn company hires.

 

SO MANY PLANTS!

Ugh….I’m just so excited!  Also feeling slightly antsy.  I would really like to be able to walk out to the garden and pick fresh tomatoes and herbs for a caprese salad, but alas….we aren’t there yet.  The herbs have started growing enough that we can pluck some, so in the meantime we will just have to settle for store bought tomatoes to go with our fresh basil, thyme, and oregano.  In addition to the classic Italian trio, we also decided to try some Cilantro.  We make a ton of tacos and salsas, so it seemed like it would be a good addition to our fresh herb collection.  Our cilantro has since grown into a small tree…..so yesterday I decided to chop it off and whip up some taco deliciousness!  So good and so easy….which was ideal cuz I had furniture to refinish and naps to take yesterday!  Something about a cool breeze coming through the window just makes me wanna curl under a blanket and nap on the couch….so that’s what I did!  But, I’ll put my flung together recipe below….just in time for TACO TUESDAY!!!!!

IMG_9604.HEIC

Lime and Cilantro Pork Tacos

  • 1 lb Pork Roast
  • 1 Medium Onion, Sliced Thin
  • 1 Bottle Corona
  • 4 Garlic Cloves, Smashed
  • 2 Tablespoons Chili Powder and Cumin
  • 0.5-1 Tablespoon Cayenne Pepper (Spice to what you like!)
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Cilantro
  • Zest of 1 Lime
  • Juice of 2 Limes
  • Salt and Pepper

Create a bed on the bottom of your crock pot with the onion slices, add the pork, and then top with the spices, zest, juice, and beer.  Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours.  I flipped mine halfway through so the top half could get some loving, but only because I happened to be home….otherwise just let it go all day.

Shred and get ready to enjoy!  I like my tacos with some fresh onion, fresh cilantro, sour cream, avocado, and maybe another little squeeze of lime!  I will caution….these are saucy!  Next time I whip these up I might toss the meat into a skillet and cook it a little bit to try and thicken the sauce and crisp up the edges of the meat.  However, I will say, these are totally delicious right outta the crock pot, just make sure you eat over a plate!

Also, I grabbed myself a new iPhone 8 this weekend, so hopefully these pictures are looking premium!

 

Christmas Break Activities

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!  I’ve obviously been slacking a little bit this week on getting a blog posted, but better late than never I suppose.  The Engineer and I travelled all around and had several different Christmas dinners and festivities with our families.  I’m thankful that we had good weather all weekend, but I’m also glad that we finally got a nice snow right before Christmas.  It wasn’t feeling very festive looking out the window at mostly dead grass….

It was my intention last week to write a last update about my holiday prepping, but I didn’t quite get it done.  I did quick whip up something fun and tasty last Friday morning though….MARSHMALLOWS!  I didn’t even get a picture taken of my project, and I intended to get one when I got home from our Christmas’s travels, but the marshmallows didn’t manage to make the trip back home from Nebraska!  I’ve never made a candy for Christmas, but this was actually easy to accomplish.  The worst part is that it’s a bit of a sugary mess, but yea know…..that’s what makes them delicious!  Thanks Alton Brown for the recipe inspiration!  Good science will never fail you in the kitchen!!  I just made plain, vanilla flavored shmallows, but based on your projected used feel free to jazz them up with other flavors.  I really don’t think you can go wrong with these at all….I’ll link the recipe below!

(Side note—-I just used my meat thermometer to cook the sugar and it worked fine, but PLEASE make sure your meat thermometer is capable of going to 240 Fahrenheit!!)

While I was busy working on Christmas craft projects for gifts it occurred to me that I haven’t crafted anything fun for myself in quite awhile.  That’s this week’s plan of attack. The Engineer and I both took the whole week between the holidays off so we’ve been lounging, running errands, and doing some odds and ends that we just never seem to have time to get done….including my crafts!

First up on the crafts to do list this week is a snuggle mat for my Scout-a-Roo girl!  If you don’t know what a snuffle mat is, it’s basically a strategic tangle of fleece that is excellent for hiding treats.  To assemble a snuffle mat for the treat hunter in your life you need 4 supplies.

  • Rubber sink mat with grid holes
  • About 2 yards of fleece…..doesn’t need to be exact or pretty….get the cheap stuff
  • Scissors
  • TIME

You’ll cut the fleece into strips and then loop them through the grid…..that’s really all there is to it!  Based on the current progress I’ve made, I project using about half of the sink mat.  I left my fleece folded, just like it comes off the fabric bolt, and cut approximately 1 inch strips from the fold end through both layers.  I then cut each folded strip into 4 equal-ish length pieces.  Precision isn’t a required trait for this. Fill the grid horizontally and then go back through and fill in the grid vertically.  This will create a nice little puff mat for your pup-a-roo to dig and snort around in after crunches or other small snackies.  The Engineer and I are curled up on the couch watching hunting videos….and I’m slowly working my way through my massive pile of fleece strips!!

My “Just for Me” craft this week is going to be a new scarf!  I found a pattern on Knit Collage, ordered myself some expensive, fun yarns, and I’m getting ready to whip myself up something cozy to start the New Year!  I’ll update you on that next week once I get it done, but I’m pretty excited about it honestly.  With the recent temperature dip into the negatives around here, you simply can not go wrong with a new fluffy scarf!

 

Stags and Scotch

What do you get when you mix a lazy Saturday morning, venison sausage, a hungry me, and my over ambitious ideas?!?!?!!  

Scotch Eggs!!

I had never attempted a scotch egg before, but I have pounds and pounds of breakfast sausage from The Engineer’s deer and eggs are a constant staple in the fridge.  It seemed like a perfectly reasonable breakfast idea!  So, Friday night I googled a quick explanation from Gordon Ramsey and decided that fancy British breakfast was just the thing we needed Saturday morning.  This is exactly the sort of thing that happens when I watch cooking shows.  If Gordon can do it….I obviously can do it!  If I can’t do it as well as Gordon, I can certainly do it better than his stupid contestants on Hell’s Kitchen….but that is a different matter entirely.

If you wanna take a stab at making your own scotch eggs, here’s what I used to make my jazzed up, cheesy version.  They turned out crispy and delicious, although they are a bit of work, so they aren’t going to become an every weekend activity anytime soon even though The Engineer really liked them…

IMG_9200

Ingredients

  • 5 eggs plus one for an egg wash
  • 1 pound breakfast sausage of your choice
  • Flour for dredging
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2/3 cup shredded cheese
  • Any spices you like….get creative!!!
  • Olive oil for frying

First things first, you must boil the eggs.  Gordon recommend a 4 minute and 30 second dip into already boiling water.  I don’t love super runny eggs, so I opted for an almost 6 minute boil.  Apparently British eggs cook faster?!  My 6 minute eggs were still runnier than I would have liked, and it made them a bit hard to peel and wrap in sausage without breaking open and oozing yoke.  The Engineer likes runny eggs, and I don’t horribly mind them as long as I have plenty of stuff to wipe them up with so we made do.  Next time though….I’ll let them go a couple minutes more.  I was worried that cooking the sausage would cook the egg inside more, but I don’t think that is the case.  Be sure you just cook your eggs to as hard or soft of a boil as you’d like.

While your eggs are boiling it’s time to get creative with your meat!  Our sausage blend is a bit under-spiced so it takes some jazzing up.  If you have a better blend or are just feeling lazy feel free to leave your sausage as it comes.  There aren’t a lot of rules, so add what you’re feeling!  Gordon apparently adds blood sausage and shredded apple to his pork sausage base.  I added cheese!!  The Engineer loves cheese with his eggs and I figured this would be an easy place to add it……plus the following pyramid of spices

1 Tsp Cayenne Pepper

Salt and Pepper to Taste

1 Tablespoon each of Garlic and Onion Powder

2 Tablespoons each of fresh, frozen Thyme and Oregano from my garden

Get everything in your sausage all mixed up, and be sure to get your breading stations set up.  I added some salt and pepper to the flour mixture and a splash of water to the egg so it whipped up nicely.

Once your eggs are cooked, cool them down with some cold water and commence the peeling.  I find that peeling the eggs under a little running water really helps the shells come off easier.  I had one egg not survive the peeling intact, so I did end up just frying some of the sausage as patties…..but that’s our little secret so don’t tell anyone!  The recipe would have made 5 scotch eggs otherwise!

To prep your eggs, squash a “large golfball sized handful” of meat into a very thin patty.  I get that that isn’t a super exact amount….but I guess you’re looking for 5 even sized balls.  Try and keep it as round and thin as you can.  Carefully place your peeled egg in the middle and warp the sausage around it.  A couple times I had to grab a bit more meat mixture to bridge any holes, just make sure to get everything covered in the sausage layer.  I found the rolling and forming them in my hands the way you’d make a snowball was the most effective, although don’t squeeze too hard because if you break your eggs, and you like them a little runny, you’ll end up with exploding yoke everywhere.  Not only will this mean that someone will get a mystery scotch egg with no yolk, but it’s also hard to get everything stuck together with all the yolk oozing around!

Gently roll your delicious meat ball in the seasoned flour….transfer to the egg wash….and then finally roll in breadcrumbs.  If you’re ball has gotten a bit amorphous or wonky by this point don’t worry…..just pick it up carefully and reform it in your hands.  According to Gordon it is helpful to press in the breadcrumbs anyway so don’t worry too much about it.  It’ll be a bit messy….but the good things in life are usually messy anyway.

Scotch eggs are traditionally deep fried, but I don’t have a fryer and I didn’t feel like using that much oil just to fry up 4 egg balls in a large skillet.  So….I broke with tradition slightly and just added a generous drizzle of olive oil to my largest, deepest skillet and let it get hot.  Once hot, carefully place in the scotch eggs and cook until brown and crispy!!!  They get oh so deliciously crispy…..must be the cheese at work!  Once they are cooked on one side, grab carefully with tongs and flip over.  Once the top and bottom were golden and delicious, I set them on their sides and slowly worked them around until they were perfectly cooked little brown orbs of goodness.  You might think that a hefty drizzle in the bottom of the pan won’t be enough oil, but remember that sausage will loose grease as it cooks….use that to your advantage!  The cheese and the fact that you aren’t actually deep frying them does cause them to stick to the pan a tiny bit, so just be gentle when you’re working with them.

Serve piping hot with your choice of breakfast sides and of course some coffee…..mimosas if you have them!  If you like your eggs runny you’ll probably want some toast to help soak up all the deliciousness.  They are a bit heavy….in a good “old school, stick to your ribs, keep you full for a long time” sorta way…so I’d steer clear of anything like pancakes or hash browns.  I eat a ton, but even I think that’s too much to take on.  Some fruit, maybe some tea, and pleasant thoughts of the English countryside should be more than enough to start your day off on the proper foot!

IMG_9201

Glorious lil scotch eggs and some apple butter toast!

 

Paint and Pie

IT’S FINALLY FALL!

It seemed like cooler, sweater weather would never arrive, but I guess good things come to those who are patient!  With the changing of the seasons comes my deep burning desire to spend time cleaning, organizing, and crafting in my garage.  Things that have been laying around all summer I suddenly have a burning need to organize.

The first craft of the fall was trying out chalk paint on some metal decor.  A few months ago I purchased a metal candle holder from Hobby Lobby.  While I do like the original color of the candle holder, it wasn’t really the right shade of blue for my house.  What better to do than throw some chalk paint on it and see what happens?!

Overall, I would say the mini project went well.  The only thing I would change was maybe the amount of distressing I did before I waxed the piece.  The paint chips off rather easy, so in buffing in the dark wax, several extra chunks of paint went flying off.  I’m not sure that in this case the candle holder could be “over” distressed, and since I didn’t have a specific outcome in mind….all is good in the chalk painting hood!  If you were going for a lighter distressed look, I might actually skip the initial distressing step.  Apply your wax, and then if you feel like you need a little extra maybe distress with sandpaper as a final step.

Another glorious part of the shift in the weather is a change in nightly meal choices!  I’m not one of those people who can eat soup and casseroles with its 100 degrees outside, so as the temperatures have been cooling I’ve been ramping up the oven!  Last night I tried out a new recipe…..shepherd’s pie!  I had never had a shepherd’s pie before, but The Engineer has had them and was having a craving.  Coupled with the fact that we watched Gordon Ramsey make some on Kitchen Nightmare meant that I needed to try my hand.  All in all, I think it turned out pretty well!  Used up a bunch of leftover veggies, and anything with cheesy mashed potatoes is a good life decision!!

Shepherd’s Pie

  • 2 pounds ground meat
  • Onion, chopped
  • 3 large handfuls of baby carrots, chopped
  • 5-6 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1ish glass of red wine
  • 6 Tbs worcestershire sauce
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-12oz can of tomato paste
  • 3 cubes of chicken bouillon
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 6-12 oz of water
  • 3 Tbs thyme
  • 1/2 12oz bag of frozen corn
  • 1/2 12oz bag of frozen green beans
  • 1 cup of parmesan cheese
  • 2 pounds of potatoes, peeled
  • 5 Tbs butter
  • 1/2 cup of milk

While I do understand that this isn’t a traditional shepherd’s pie as it doesn’t contain lamb, I’m pretty confident that this recipe would work with any red meat.  The most important quality of the meat, according to Gordon, is that it’s well drained and free of grease.  Elk, for all intensive purposes, is basically grease free and I have a freezer full of it now, so that’s what I used.  If using any wild game meat, remember that you will probably need to add some olive oil to your pan before adding in the meat.  Brown the meat and toss in all the fresh veggies, onion, and the garlic.  Continue cooking until you’re sure the meat is completely cooked, and the onions have gone slightly translucent.

Dump in the worcestershire, tomato paste, wine, bouillon and water.  You could also use any stock you have laying around the house, I just had the cubes to use.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and the thyme.  I used several fresh sprigs from my garden, but dried would also work just fine.

4aba47382dee492d118c43f22a04abc2--food-network-humor-food-humor.jpg

When you use fresh herbs and your fancy starts showing!

Simmer your meat mixture until the carrots and celery become tender and the mixture thickens….about 45 mins.  Stir often so that the bottom of the mixture doesn’t scorch to the pan.  While that’s simmering, rough cube the potatoes and add them to a pan and boil until fork tender.  Drain and add to a mixing bowl with the butter, cheese, and milk. Basically, just make mashed potatoes the way you always would….only with the addition of cheese.  Maybe you make them with cheese all the time…..I don’t, so that was a little upgrade!

Add your frozen veggies and just let them warm up a couple minutes.  Pour the mixture into a 9×13 baking pan.  The entire mixture didn’t all fit in my pan, in hindsight it would have, but I made a small, additional baking dish and threw it into the freezer for later.  Top the mixture with the mashed potatoes and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.  If the top isn’t as brown as you’d like, turn the broiler on and babysit your pie carefully until the desired level of golden brown is achieved.  Dish up and enjoy your meat, potatoes, and veggies!!

IMG_9008

I raked my potatoes with a fork before baking and topped them with extra black pepper because it’s The Engineer’s favorite!

IMG_9012

PIE!