Friday, August 12, 2011

Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie

As you may well know, we got a "cool" front here in the Great Plains!  That means the temperature today is slightly under 100 degrees and everyone is celebrating.  It's a strange, strange world we are coming to.  Anyway, Shepherd's pie is just about Hubby's favorite dish and I figured I owed him since he was so sweet about the "burgers" I served earlier this week.  And since it was non-scorching outside, I decided to go ahead with this "heat up your kitchen" dish.  Yep, you know you're an Okie when even slightly cooler weather makes you start thinking of warm and hearty dinners!

This week, I had sweet potatoes but no regular ones.  Generally I do a combo but considering sweet potatoes are the most nutrient rich food in the grocery store (according to Rachael Ray), it can't hurt to do all sweet!

For the potatoes:

2 medium sweet potatoes, washed, roughly peeled, and cut into 1 inch-ish cubes
3-4 green onions, sliced
1/2 C low-fat cream cheese
1/2 C low-fat milk
Parmiggiano-reggiano, grated
Salt and pepper to taste
Garam Masala (I have a fellow blogger friend who has reminded me of the magic of this seasoning blend, magic with sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and other orange veggies).

Boil potatoes in enough water to cover until fork-tender (about 10-15 minutes).  Drain and put back into the hot pot.  Add all other ingredients and mash with a potato masher until well mixed.  If you tip a little too much milk in (like me), turn the burner back on low for a few minutes until you dry out the potatoes to your desired consistency.  Save some parm for the top, it browns very nicely.

Meat 'n gravy:

1 lb ground beef (or lamb if you want to be authentic, but it's quite a bit fattier)
1-2 T extra virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 8oz package white mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 T flour
1-2 C beef stock
Handful of frozen peas
Pepper and fresh rosemary to taste

Brown 1 lb ground beef in large skillet.  Use local, grass-fed beef if you can.  Trust me, there is a difference.  No yucky grey stuff, no pink slime, just yummy "real" meat that looks, smells, and tastes better.  Okay, sorry for the soapbox!  Anyway...cook beef until browned, try to not turn or stir it too much until it gets a nice browned crust on it; it will deepen the flavor of the whole dish.  Remove meet to drain on paper towels.  Add olive oil to skillet, then add mushrooms and onions.  Cook until brown, then add garlic.  Give another stir or two and then add the flour.  Cook flour in for a couple of minutes (it gets pretty goopy at this point), then add stock, stirring well to incorporate flour into liquid and pulling up brown "crust" from the bottom of the pan.  Start with less and then add more until you get the desired  gravy-ish consistency.  Turn heat to medium-low and let cook for a few minutes as sauce thickens.  Season with pepper and rosemary or herbs de provence.  Turn off heat add the ground beef back in, along with a couple of handfuls of peas.

Stir well, then pour into a deep casserole or baking pan.  Top with an even layer of potato mixture, add extra cheese (sharp Irish cheddar would be delicious), bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until browned and set.  Enjoy!

I had the best of intentions of taking a picture of the finished product when it came out of the oven, but somehow it didn't happen.  I blame it on the two concentration-zappers living in my house!  Oh well, it's really not the best-lookin' meal anyway.  Just trust me, it's tasty!

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