Tonight we tried Sweet Potato-Topped Shepherd's Pie from Rachael Ray Magazine October 2010. This was a little soupy, but quite delicious. Maybe I would leave out the milk and butter if I made it again, to try to thicken up the sweet potato "crust" that, in my attempt, just sort of mixed itself into the beef / veggie / gravy part. It was a pleasant surprise, because shepherd's pie in my experience has always been too dry. With some fresh rolls it would have been awesome tonight. My two-year old ate a little of it, in between tantrums, with saltines for dipping, and the baby ate some of it, in between tantrums, that was spoon-fed to her. She only has two teeth so we tend to stick to the pureed and soft stuff for her anyway.
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
3 sweet potatoes
1 cup frozen peas
a chopped onion
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 cup beef broth
3/4 cup dark beer
butter and flour
8 oz mushrooms
You start by prepping the sweet potatoes, which was a giant pain in the ass. I do NOT peel vegetables, but my husband wasn't home yet so I had to. Before tonight, I was a sweet potato virgin, never having prepared them before in my life, so I was rather disgusted when they started bleeding a sticky white stuff (ew) which literally made my fingers stick together like superglue. I washed my hands, scrubbed them with a Scotch Brite pad, and now they seem to be relatively back to normal. I did Google this phenomenon, to make sure I wasn't ingesting a large amount of poison, and it's just the starches; totally normal. Put the potatoes in a large pot, cover them with water, and boil for 20 minutes. When they're soft, drain them, and mash 'em up. The recipe calls for milk and butter, but like I said, it was a little runny, so you may want to try it without.
Saute the mushrooms in a large pot for 6 or 7 minutes, then add the beef and brown it. Add the onions and garlic, then sage, salt, and pepper. In a small sauce pot, melt 2 tbsps butter and whisk in 2 tbsp flour. This is called a roux (roo) ; it's used to make gravy. Whisk the beer into the roux (try to get it completely combined), cook for a minute, then add the beef broth and whisk some more. Add the peas to the beef, then add the gravy. Pour the whole thing into a casserole dish and top with the sweet potatoes. Broil until it looks yummy!
You may want to crank the AC down a few degrees before attempting this recipe. With all the pots on the stove, I broke a sweat! After doing it once, though, I know you could do it in advance. You can prepare the sweet potato and store it, and then prepare the beef and store it, and then combine the two together to put it the oven when you're ready to eat. I wouldn't do it more than a few hours ahead (maybe at naptime?) but your kitchen won't get so hot all at once if you do it that way, and if you're entertaining, it will give you the time to be a good hostess.
Tonight I have two discs of Glee calling my name, so that's how we'll be celebrating our "living-together anniversary."
Happy Parenting! Have another martini ;)