Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Madame Shepherd's Pie

Shepard's Pie, traditionally minced beef with veggies ,baked with a mashed potato topping, is a popular dish hailing from Great Britain and likewise, here in America.  I first tried this on a trip to England with my  advanced and high school Science teacher , Shirley Cothran.  We spent 2 weeks traveling and touring the country and it's adorable  little towns, Westminster Abbey, Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway''s home, where we sat and swung in a cozy wooden swing,  in it's beautiful garden, Windsor Castle, the Tower of London, where we experienced some of the Medieval torture devices, Jack the Ripper's Ghost Walk, tracing the steps of the infamous forerunner for serial killers, to the unforgettable Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in London,  which was absolutely amazing.
These memoirs are just a few of the many fantastical memories made when I was 15 years old.  The excursion was a most exciting and memorable one.  The rain was hit and miss and we were lucky that it was the driest period England had experienced in ten years! Whoohoo!  Ironically, a wedding party trashed one of the hotels in which we were scheduled to stay , bumping us up to a 5 star hotel at the last minute for 2 days!  Thanks Wedding Wrecking Crew!:)
The idea for this version of Shepard's Pie came about by happenstance.  I had prepared a birthday dinner the night prior for my nephew Justin, featuring  two of his favorite foods,  ribs and homemade mashed potatoes.There were some potatoes leftover, though not enough for reasonable side portions, and the wheels began to turn. I had approximately one pound of ground beef on hand as well as this huge boneless skinless chicken breast weighing about 3/4 lb., which I cut into bite sized pieces. I knew that singularly, one of the proteins would not accommodate dinner, but together, they could provide for a substantial and filling dish.  The recipe was a big hit and the name is derived from the marrying of the chicken to the beef in taste-bud matrimony, in a romantic one dish meal.
1 lb. ground beef
3/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 pkg. onion soup mix
2 c. water or beef stock
1 tbsp. corn starch
2 small carrots, sliced, about 1/2 c.
1/2 c. sweet corn kernels
1/2 c. frozen peas
2 c. prepared mashed potatoes
1/4 c. evaporated milk
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 c. shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
Olive oil for drizzling
Preheat oven to 375*F.
In a large saute pan over medium high heat, brown ground beef and remove with a slotted spoon.
 Set Aside.
In the same rendered fat, brown the chicken pieces in batches, adding it to the vessel with the beef .
After all the chicken has been browned, pour excess fat from pan and re-add meats.
Add garlic, onion soup mix , stock and corn starch and bring up to a boil.
Remove from heat and stir in all vegetables, except mashed potatoes.
Pour into an oven safe vessel at least 2 inches deep.
In a separate bowl, combine potatoes, evaporated milk, Parmesan and eggs.  Blend well.
Pour and spread potato mixture over meat filling and cover tightly with foil.
Bake until potatoes have set, about 30 minutes, and toothpick inserted comes out clean of potato topping.
 Remove foil and sprinkle with Cheddar and turn oven to  broil.
Broil until cheese melts and top browns slightly.
Garnish with Fresh cracked pepper, Parmesan, olive oil and fresh chopped parsley if desired.
Let stand for about 10 minutes before serving. Serves 8-10.

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