Before I even start, will all the pedantic assholes please raise your hands? Now, everyone who has a hand up, get fucked. I say this with all the love in my heart because I have learned that apparently you can’t call it Shepherd’s Pie unless it contains ground lamb. And guess what? There ain’t no fucking lamb in this motherfucker but I’m calling it shepherd’s pie. Just wait until you find out what else I put in it.
The rest of you, grab some table bubs, because where we’re going we don’t need any lamb. (And yes I can mash up quotes from two separate 80s movies in my blog. Come at me.)
So I made my shepherd’s pie with ground beef. If this displeases the fucking Queen of England, it’s cool. I’m pretty sure we fought some war in Vietnam or Iraq to be free of her bullshit anyway. Did we give up when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?! (Look! It’s not an 80’s movie reference!)
I started off by sweating some onions in some butter and olive oil mixed together, and then added some finely diced mushrooms, celery and garlic, cooking it all until it was soft. This was followed by a pound or so of lean ground sirloin (since there was a decent amount of fat in the pan already so I could make a roux, I didn’t want it to be too greasy.)
I then added a few tablespoons of flour and stirred it in so it wouldn’t clump when I added the liquid, which was about two cups of chicken stock (it came from Costco because I’m really lazy and don’t have the freezer space to make my own chicken stock).
Pop quiz: what is the best way to use the other half of the chicken stock carton when you only need to two cups of it?
Answer: you fucking spill the first two cups you poured out all over the counter top so that you have to move every single goddamn appliance off the counter top and soak it all up and then clean the counters and the bottoms of all the appliances including your fucking heavy as shit stand mixer. Isn’t it so plainly obvious? I can’t believe you’d even have to ask this question in the first place!
I also added a good glug or two of soy sauce and few squirts (god that sounds gross) of Worerchesterershire sauce to give it that fermented funk. (Plus the soy sauce and the mushrooms have things in them that when you pair the two of them together amplify each other to give you savory meat-y flavors.) When this started reducing and thickening I threw in most of a bag of frozen peas.
That’s what my intention was.
But my brain wasn’t braining like a brain should brain when I went to the store and got all the ingredients for this dish so I neglected to buy the frozen peas. Thankfully past-self Todd had a half-bag of frozen lima beans in the freezer so I used those instead. BRAINS.
While all this meat magic was happening, I was also boiling a few yukon gold potatoes until soft. I drained them and then mashed them with some milk, butter, salt and pepper, and then tempered in a beaten egg. I know, I know, “tempering” sounds so fucking French but like if you don’t do this you’re gonna get scrambled eggs in your mashed potatoes, which like, that’s a different meal. I took a small amount of hot potatoes and vigorously beat it into the beaten egg, allowing the temperature of the eggs to rise without creating curds. When the mixture was decently hot (like the bottom of the metal dish I was using to temper it was a little too hot to comfortably hold), I dumped the mixture in and gave it a good stir or two in order to incorporate it. This is sort of like a pancake batter though — you don’t want to overmix it or you’ll get stretchy starchy library paste-like potatoes and that’s also not for this meal (but for others!)
Once the taters and the meat were all cooked, I let the meat cool off a bit and put the potatoes in a zip-top back and snipped off a corner to make it so I could pipe the potatoes out over the meat mixture, and then smoothed it out so it was a solid covering. I baked this in a 400º oven until it was crusty on top, and then sprinkled it with a little Parmesan cheese and threw it under the broiler to get nice and brown.
The carrots are pretty straight forward and something that my partner would probably want me to make every night - thankfully they’re pretty straighforward. It’s a bit of butter and olive oil, and some crushed but not minced garlic. Let that get slowly brown over very low heat and when it starts to turn golden add a little bit of caraway and a little bit more of both cumin seed and aleppo chili powder. Let those toast a minute or two until they smell fabulous, and then add a bunch of carrots cut into equal size pieces along with a 1/4 of water and like a good squirt (there I go again) of honey. Bring this to a boil and let it reduce, stirring frequently, until the water and honey have reduced and become a glaze. Then when you get them out of the pot, you’d better rinse that glaze off the pot or like you’re gonna have the worst fucking time ever chipping the crusted dried sugar off the sides of it, cursing yourself until your hands are all wrinkled. But like, I’ve never done that obviously.
You might have noticed that I’ve been conspicuously quiet about the state of my children so far in this post? Well, thats because while I was making all of this I was also boiling a pot of water so that I could make them pasta. If you’ve been reading my older posts you’ll notice that I occasionally make reference to the fact that my children will throw up at the table right?
Unfortunately this isn’t hyperbole nor bragging. You see, every single time I make one of my kids try a bit of mashed potatoes they immediately let it sit right in the back of their mouths right on their gag reflexes and start to choke on it and end up vomiting on the table, totally ruining Thanksgiving and making sure that we won’t ever have those guests over again. (Well, to be fair, that was COVID’s fault this year.) So if you think I’m letting either my kids even look at mashed potatoes you’ve got another fucking thing coming. I might be a moron but I’m no idiot.