So, St. Pattie’s Day is here. Now, more than likely, you’re going to go out and eat and drink green beer. However, there’s something else to consider. You can stay in the comfort of your home and watch the tourney on your HDTV, get a case of beer and a little green food coloring AND score an easy victory with your lady. You can have it all: women, beer, food, AND the game. And you don’t even have to find a designated driver. An easy win.
What’s the easy win? YOU, yes you, can prepare a specialty Irish dish for the occasion that is filling and full of manly meat and taters. Your lady will be so appreciative, she won’t mind that you watch 12 hours of basketball. If you clean up after yourself, she might have a few green beers and join you. For advanced students, they have a wonderful Corned Beef and Cabbage recipe at Home Ec 101. However, if you’ve fallen under my wing, you’re one of those guys they aim Hardee’s breakfast commercials at. My nemesis, Mack Vader, will mock the simplicity of your training, but you must ignore him if you are to become a Man of the House. Strong with the force, you are.
The meal we are making this weekend is comfort food: Shepherd’s Pie. It’s not REALLY a pie, it’s meat and potatoes. But, it’s one of those dishes that looks harder to make than it is. You could make it harder by cooking everything from scratch, but why?
Bring a little TV into the kitchen so you don’t miss any of the games. Or bring your laptop in and take advantage of March Madness On Demand. I usually bring my laptop to the kitchen, because I get a good amount of recipes from allrecipes.com, and it’s easier to do a virtual search than a real one.
Now, you’ll find that many recipes are made for the Martha Stewart types. Do not be intimidated. I’ll teach you the easy substitutions. For our purposes here, instead of mashing fresh potatoes, we’re going to use instant. I’m assuming that if you are or were at one time a bachelor, you know how to make instant mashed potatoes (along with mac and cheese and ramein noodles). Instead of fresh chopped onion, use the frozen chopped onions. Instead of fresh cloves of garlic, use minced garlic from the spice section of the grocery.
Follow the directions on the instant mashed potatoes to make around six cups. Remember, to do this, you’ll need the instant taters, some milk, salt and butter. Once this is complete, set it aside for the moment. Here are the other ingredients you are going to need:
2c chopped cooked beef (most of the time I just use a lb of ground beef)
2 tblsp vegetable oil
1 cup frozen chopped onions*
1/4 tsp minced garlic
3 large eggs
2 tblsp chopped parsley (from the spice rack)
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp melted butter**
A 10 inch pie plate. Don’t exaggerate. It’s only 10 inches.
UPDATE: 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables.
*If you’re hoping that cooking this great meal will help you get lucky later, make it 2/3 cup of onion.
**Melt the butter in the microwave – it takes about 20 to 30 seconds. Don’t overdo it, though.
If you do like me and use ground beef, browning it is easy. Separate the hamburger in a way that allows you to sprinkle the beef into a large skillet. Do not put hunks into the skillet. Heat at medium heat (remember, high heat, for frying, sucks). Stir the beef about 80% of the time with a rubber spatula. You’ll know when all the beef is browned. Use the force. Now, you’ve got to drain the beef.
This is problematic, because it’s too hot to drain into the trash, and you NEVER drain meat down the sink. If you’ve got a pretty large jar to use, put a funneling-type strainer on top of it and pour carefully. If not, here’s a quick solution I discovered years ago. On your counter, pull out about two feet of aluminum foil, twice. Slightly overlap the two pieces of foil. Cover this with at least two layers of paper towel. Slowly spread the beef out over the paper towels. Take another paper towel and pat the top of the beef layer. Grab either side of the foil, lift either end, and shake the beef slightly back into the pan. The drippings will stay behind in the paper towels. You have defeated the forces of evil!
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Take a basting brush and “paint” butter all over the pie plate. Spoon 2 and a half cups of taters into the pie plate. Layer in 2 cups of the meat. You’ll have some left over, put it in a container and set in the fridge and we’ll use it later for chili; or, you could just be a pig and eat it plain while the pie cooks – it’s up to you.
UPDATE: Amy has informed me that the recipe needs mixed vegetables. Since this meal is not the greatest nutritionally, let’s throw in some frozen mixed vegatables. They’re the kind used for vegetable soup. Layer about a cup over the meat. Now, you’ve got nutrition!
In a small skillet, heat the oil on medium heat. Throw in the garlic and onions, cook and stir until tender. This is going to smell wonderful. This is the step where your lady comes into the room to see what you’re doing.
In a mixing bowl, mix the onion/garlic mixture with the eggs (remember, I’ve taught you how to break them), parsley, pepper and salt. Mix it well then pour it into the pie over the meat. Cover with the remaining taters, using a spoon to smooth it out like you would spackling. Actually, leave a few ridges in the top, it looks cool. Use your brush to brush the remaining butter onto the taters.
Bake the pie for 30 minutes until the top is slightly golden. I know it’s tough, but take it out (turn off the oven!) and leave it alone for ten minutes. Serve with green beer!
You’ve already got the TV or laptop in the kitchen. After dinner, clean up after yourself before plopping down on the couch. Like I said, the goal is to have it all: food, beer, the game, and a thankful woman who has been drinking beer. The perfect storm.