There are few things in this world more pleasant than opening the oven and being enveloped in a cloud of garlic-gas. (Unless you’re my mother, in which case that is apparently a very unpleasant thing.)
I had a pound of ground beef – a Tube o’ Meat, as it were – wasting away in my freezer. I bought it planning to… I’m not sure what I was planning, other than to up my intake of iron for a change.
Anyway, I decided it was time to cook it tonight, so I did. I got it good and thoroughly browned in my trusty non-stick skillet, then sectioned off enough for two small shepherd’s pies and the rest went into a nice big pot for some slow-cooked spaghetti sauce.
The shepherds pie is very loosely based on a recipe from one of my ancient Betty Crocker’s New [haha] Dinner for Two books and some of the recipes from foodnetwork.com:
Preheat oven to 350 F.
1 tbs (-ish) butter
1/2 lb (-ish) ground beef
ground black pepper
marsala cooking wine
Optional seasonings: marjoram, oregano, whatever makes you happy
Cut potato into several chunks and boil until very soft. Drain off the water, mash the potato with butter and a dash of heavy cream until very smooth. Mix in white pepper and garlic powder to taste.
Brown ground beef. Add garlic, onions, and peas. Drown in beef broth and Worcestershire sauce with a splash of marsala cooking wine. Season to taste with liberal quantities of ground black pepper and your standard Italian herbs. Keep cooking a few more minutes, until the liquid ingredients have boiled down a little.
Line bottom of baking dish(es) with ground beef mixture.
Daub mashed potatoes over the top. Don’t smooth out all the little peaks on top – that’s the part that browns! Pour a little more beef broth over it to be sure nothing dries out.
Bake for 30 minutes or until potatoes begin to brown.
Handle with extreme care when removing from the oven and let it cool!
I like using the little baking dishes because I can eat one pie tonight and slap a cover over the second, refrigerate, and reheat for a second meal later in the week.
Now for that spaghetti sauce:
(same idea as the lasagna sauce, just with beef)
1/2 lb (ish) ground beef
1 large can diced tomatoes
marsala cooking wine
half the contents of your spice cabinet (within reason)
Brown the beef. Add liberal quantities of cooking wine, garlic, onion, and all your favorite spices. This particular batch contains the following:
crushed red pepper
Oh yeah, and – uh – some diced tomatoes. Y’know… for a splash of color.
Let simmer on very low heat for as long as you can, stirring occasionally just to be sure nothing is burning to the bottom. If it starts drying out, add beef broth (or more cooking wine). Throw in an additional can of tomato paste for thicker sauce.