Please, allow me to kick off this blog on a cozy note. Also, please allow me to use my kitchen torch on EVERYTHING moving forward, because I genuinely can't stop. Okay, not sincerely, but I got one for Christmas, and truly, people, it is changing my life. In my current state, I will torch anything you give me. Be it a brulee, ahi, a choice kobe beef, jk no one is giving me items to torch, but where they, I would SO be at the ready *ignites torch*.
I digress...Let's talk carbs. Shepherd's pie is one of those dishes that, frankly, has been done time and again, and it can be really...beige. Both in color and personality. With that in mind, and I decided to dress up this easy AF peasant dish. How do you dress up something that involves ground meat and a casserole dish? Copious herbs, a red wine reduction, and mushrooms add lots of depth of flavor, in addition to being the Bourguignon (ISH) portion to the program. It's heavy on the veg, with the addition of spinach, because, vitamins with the carbs, ya'll! Finally, and let's be real, most importantly, a white cheddar Yukon gold mash gets piped on top, then torched, if you're feelin' sassy. Let's get into it.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, and make your mashed potatoes. My mom always taught me to do these first anytime I needed them for something, because they are the easiest to reheat right before dinner. Additionally, in this scenario, because I'm ultimately going to be putting these mashed potatoes into a piping bag, I don't want them to be insanely hot, nor do they need to be, since everything goes into the oven. Peel your potatoes, cut them into quarters, cover them with cold water, and add salt once brought to a boil. At the same time, heat your 2 cups whole milk in a small saucepan. Boil the potatoes until they are fork tender, then, drain them, and add back to the original pot. I love using a ricer for my mashed potatoes, because A) it's probably the least labor intensive, and B) because you truly can't replicate the creamy texture it gives you without any possibility of them becoming glue-y (aka potato tragedy). However, if you don't have a ricer, a good, old fashioned hand masher (technical term?) works perfectly well, AND you can work those tri's and bi's. Wink.
Add your butter, garlic, a round of s & p, and a splash of the hot milk to your mash. This is where some eye-balling comes in. You don't want an extremely heavy mash, but you want it to be substantial enough to pipe on top of your pie, so just add your milk gradually, a little at a time, until you've reached your desired consistency. The recipe also calls for a little more milk than you would need, in case you need some to liven up your potatoes, consistency-wise before adding them to your piping bag. Add your grated cheddar, and chopped thyme, and test for seasoning. Make sure to remove your milk from the heat, cover your potatoes, and let's make that filling!
In a cast iron skillet, or Dutch oven, heat a very scant amount of olive oil medium heat, add your spinach, and cook just until wilted. Season at the end with salt and pepper, and set atop a bed of paper towels to drain the liquid. In that same pan, add about a tablespoon each of butter and olive oil, and heat over medium-high heat. Add your mushrooms, and saute until they have a nice golden brown. Season at the end with salt and pepper, remove from pan, and set aside. Next, add more butter and olive oil to your pan, still on medium-high and add your diced carrots, celery, shallot and saute until softened, adding your garlic at the very end. Then, turn up your heat, and add your ground sirloin, breaking it up in the pan, but making sure not to move it around too much. You want it to get a nice sear, rather than steam.
After your beef has browned, de-glaze your pan with the red wine, lower your heat to medium, add a splash of beef stock, your chopped rosemary and thyme, season with salt, and let reduce by roughly a third. Remove the pan from the heat, and add the reserved spinach and mushrooms back to your mixture, and test once more for seasoning. Add the entire mixture to a lightly buttered 9" x 13" baking dish.
At this point, you'll want to do a casual check-in on your mash, just like, feelings-wise...jk, we're looking for texture. If your mash seems a bit too thick, add some of the reserved milk. If you're good to go, add to your piping bag. Side note: If you don't have a piping bag, don't fret! You can snip the corner of a plastic freezer bag, or simply spread it on with a wooden spoon. It's shepherd's pie. There's no need to get fancy here, I just simply wanted a reason to bust out the kitchen torch, and I probably got way-haaay too much satisfaction out of singeing those sweet, sweet Yukon gold mountain peaks.
After you've piped on your mashed potato sitch, place it in a 375 degree oven for 10 minutes, just to ensure everything is fully piping hot all the way through. If you have a kitchen torch, lightly torch your potatoes when they come out of the oven. If not, place under the broiler for 10-12 minutes, and you should still achieve a nicely browned situation. Garnish with chives, and hope your dinner guests are minimal because you'll really want seconds.
This dish is so comforting, and something about the additions of the red wine and mushrooms make it feel slightly more special than your average bear, one casserole dish dinner. Not sooo special though, that you feel like you can't eat it in your PJ's whilst watching The Bachelor. Which, by the way, can we talk about how many times I face palm myself watching this season? That Krystal...she's triflein'. No? Not why you're here? We'll stick to shepherd's pie for now, but please oh please, if you're going to be here, make room in your hearts for future reality TV tidbits.
Beef Bourguignon (ISH) Shepherd's Pie
Cook time: 1 hr.
Beef Bourguignon (ISH) Filling
1 pound ground top sirloin
1 container crimini or white button mushrooms
3 carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1 large bunch spinach
1 large shallot (2 if small), minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
Splash beef stock
4 rosemary sprigs, chopped
6 thyme sprigs, chopped
1 1/2 cups red wine you enjoy drinking
Salt and pepper to taste
White Cheddar Yukon Gold Mash
8 Yukon Gold Potatoes
2 cups whole milk
1 large clove garlic, grated
1 cup grated white cheddar cheese
1 stick butter
2 tbs. chopped fresh thyme
Fresh chives to garnish
Salt and pepper to taste