Monday, October 29, 2012

Shepherd’s Pie

I have a certain fondness for shepherds. I once flew so low over Scotland that I spied one running his sheep on the emerald grasses bordering the seas west of Scotland. It gave me a thrill. Peeking through a farmer’s fence, I once watched a ewe drop a lamb sticky with birthing fluid. Within minutes of her licking the baby clean, it  rose on wobbly stick legs. Another thrill. I was once wildly in love with a shepherd, but it was not to be. Rin-Tin-Tin had already been taken. 

Just as shepherds hold a warm place in my heart, Shepherd’s Pie holds a warm place in my stomach.With its mashed potatoes, vegetables, hot gravy, and meat (Oops! I’ve just given you the recipe!), it’s the ultimate comfort food. Whether you make this easy dish with cooked leftover roast beef, pork, lamb, or poultry, the method remain the same. The meat can be ground or chunked as you desire. For dinner last night, I made my pies with chicken. Here’s how!

Shepherd’s Pie:

3 large russet potatoes, peeled and chunked
2 whole garlic cloves, peeled
¼ c. butter or margarine
2-to-3 tbsp. milk
1-½ c. thick chicken gravy (see Note
4 boned and skinned chicken thighs, in chunks (about 1-½ c.)
1-½ c. frozen mixed vegetables
Paprika, as garnish

Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. Bring potatoes and garlic to a boil in lightly salted water. Reduce heat, simmering 15-to-20 min. Drain and mash potatoes with garlic. Stir in butter and milk. Mash should be thick, rather than soft. Set aside and keep warm. Stir gravy in saucepan over medium heat. Add raw chicken chunks, heating through until no pink remains, about 10 min. 

Divide frozen vegetables equally between two individual casserole dishes. Pour hot gravy with chicken chunks over vegetables, filling casserole ⅔ full. Spread with mashed potatoes to edge of casseroles. Sprinkle potatoes liberally with paprika. Place casserole dishes on baking sheet to catch oozing gravy. Bake 30 min., or until gravy bubbles under potatoes. Let stand 10 min. at room temperature before serving. Serves 2.

Note: This dish is an excellent use for leftover gravy.

Bring potatoes and garlic to a boil; reduce heat to simmer
Mash with butter and milk. Set aside and keep warm.

Save and freeze trimmed chicken skin and bone for the stock pot 

Four trimmed thighs yield about 1-1/2 c. chicken chunks

Add chicken to gravy, cooking about 10 min.

Use individual casserole dishes

Ladle hot gravy and chicken chunks over mixed vegetables

Spread with potatoes. Sprinkle with paprika before baking.

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