Thursday, May 14, 2009

Waste Not - Want Not

What's that saying? Couples that play together stay together? Yah, I think that's it. And I have to agree with it. The hubby and I have lots of hobbies together. We play tennis, we target shoot, we travel, we scuba dive, we shop for old vinyl records, the list goes on and on. But unfortunately we only get to do these things once a week or month or sometimes year. That's when food comes to the rescue. I mean, lets face it. We eat every day...multiple times a day. What better way to spend quality time together than over a glass of wine and a medium rare piece of meat! Lots of our quality time together is spent hanging around the kitchen, mixing cocktails, listening to old records(breaking out in dance every once in a while) and cooking together. Or sometimes it's at the farmer's market on a Saturday afternoon, just strolling through the rows and rows of fresh, exciting food, and filling our baskets until they overflow. Unfortunately, sometimes our eyes are bigger than our stomachs(yes, we have some gigantic eyes) and we purchase enough food to feed a small army. Then 5 days later when I get the itch to go spend some more dough at the farmer's market I look at the fridge and notice a few stragglers...some left-over elk steaks(last week the hubby went on a bit of a wild-game kick) that don't look nearly as yummy as they did a few days prior, or that lonely bunch of broccoli that's seen better days. We've all been here, and unfortunately sometimes it's just easier to throw those leftovers and stragglers away and start fresh. But don't. Next time you're face to face with this situation take the opportunity to get the most out of your buck, feel good about eating everything on the proverbial plate and try something new. Here's the first of my new monthly installments........Waste Not - Want Not

I have a dozens, maybe even hundreds of Waste Not - Want Not recipes that I've come up with over the years. Most of them are just normal dishes created out of leftover proteins or vegetables. I probably make my "fill in the blank meat" and black bean burritos 2 or 3 times a month because they're just so darn tasty, quick as can be to make AND you can use up just about any meat you've got lying around. But yesterday as I reached for the flour tortillas all I saw was an empty space. We were out. "Ugggg" I said to myself, "This leftover elk isn't going south of the border tonight". Instead I glanced at a container of fresh English peas and light bulb! Shepherd's Pie.I know, a piping hot mound of stewed beef and mashed potatoes doesn't exactly scream "spring", but the fresh, buttery English peas bring enough sunshine to the party.

Shepherd's Pie

1/2 - 3/4 pound of leftover red meat(elk, beef, venison, lamb, etc.) cut into small squares(I'll never make Shepherd's Pie with ground meat again...the small cubes are the way to go...if you don't have leftover meat just dice up some fresh stuff)

1 tbs. olive oil

1 tbs. butter

1 carrot diced

1/2 onion diced

1 stalk celery diced

1 parsnip diced

2 cloves garlic finely chopped

1/4 cup red wine

3/4 to 1 cup chicken/vegetable/beef broth(whatever you've got...or water if you don't have broth)

3 - 4 tbs. flour

1 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary

1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme

1 tbs. onion powder

1/2 tsp. black pepper

salt to taste at end


4 medium sized potatoes, peeled and cubed

1/2 cup swiss cheese

1 tbs. butter

1/4 - 1/2 cup milk


Melt the butter and oil in a large, high sided skillet, add the carrots, celery, onion, parsnip and garlic and sweat on med/low heat until somewhat soft(7 - 10 mins). Add the diced meat, thyme, rosemary, black pepper, onion powder, then sprinkle the whole shebang with flour. Stir until everything is coated and cook for 1 min to brown the flour slightly. Then add the broth and red wine, scrape any bits off the bottom of the pan, stir thoroughly to be sure there are no lumps of flour, then turn the heat down to a barely there simmer and cook for about 45 mins to an hour(taste the meat at intervals to gauge tenderness...if you pull the meat prior to 30 or 45 mins it will inevitably be tougher than you'd like). You want the meat to become tender and the sauce to thicken. If it becomes too thick too early just add more broth/water.

When you have about 30 mins of cooking time left start boiling the potatoes(and pre-heat your oven to 400). Once they're fork tender, drain and add butter and milk and mash. Once you've got somewhat firm mashed potatoes, add the cheese. You want these potatoes to be thicker than your normal mashed taters. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

When both components are ready layer the meat mixture in a buttered casserole dish and gently spread the mashed potatoes over the meat until covered completely. Bake at 400 for about 10 - 15 mins then place under the broiler for 2 or 3 mins until the potatoes become golden brown. Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 mins minimum before serving. It's hot!! Enjoy with a side of buttered peas....or just an ice cold Guinness. I know this recipe seems labor intensive and long...but my husband and I ate 4 servings worth and we weren't even that's that good.

1 comment:

  1. Im a vodka girl..maybe Ill give gin a try again.. I live 30 minutes North of Philly Figtreeapps