The Shepherd’s Pie Disaster

Tonight’s meal is Shepherd’s Pie, compliments of by way of Pinterest.

I didn’t figure I’d end up blogging this one, because I pulled the recipe from my “Tried it and liked it” board on Pinterest, and usually if I’ve cooked something before it goes pretty smoothly the second time around. Well, it would appear that my pinning finger got a little trigger happy somewhere along the line, because I most definitely had NOT made this particular recipe before. I know this because it requires you to make a roux, and I’ve made a roux exactly one other time in my life. I don’t even remember what recipe it was for, but I do remember that I had to Google it.

I digress.

I work in the beauty industry, and my husband teaches fifth grade. On Wednesday nights I work in the evenings, so I like to have something ready for my husband to eat when he gets home after work. Now, my husband is perfectly capable of cooking himself a meal, but given that he works 40+ hours a week enriching young minds and I work 30 hours a week making people look pretty, I take it upon myself to prepare meals ahead of time so that he can relax at the end of the day. So I’m always looking for meals that I can bake ahead of time or dump in the crock pot before I leave for work around 1. Shepherd’s pie sounded like a great way to go!

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat and add ground beef, onion and garlic.

I’m making this in my cast iron skillet, which I LOVE. I can make the whole thing in this pan, and then throw it in the oven. Once I get the beef browning, I grab a bag of frozen, chopped onion out of the freezer (another AMAZING investment- I’ll seriously never chop an onion again- look for it in your local Kroger store for $1 a bag) and add the onion and garlic. The beef takes longer to brown than it should, and I begin to wonder if there’s something up with this particular burner. It would definitely explain why the green beans I cooked yesterday were still crunchy after 10 minutes of sautéing.

While I’m cooking the beef mixture, I chop up a large potato and get it boiling. It seems like when I have made shepherd’s pie in the past (again, not this recipe), I’ve ended up too with much (many?) mashed potatoes, so I decided to cook up just one to get a better potato:everything else ratio. (Spoiler alert- I should have used two potatoes.)

Once the beef has cooked through, I pour the beef/onion/garlic mix into a mixing bowl and use the cast iron to make the roux (both of my skillets are in the dishwasher from last night’s one-pan-chicken fiasco).

In another skillet or pan, melt putter and add flour. Cook roux for two minutes.

Heh heh heh, “putter”. Typos are fun.

To my utter delight and surprise, the roux mixes perfectly and, after adding the milk, the gravy thickens up beautifully. Things like this don’t happen to me. Last time we had biscuits and gravy for brinner (any other brinner fans in the house??), I ended up calling it biscuits and spicy milk, because after 30 minutes of stirring on various heat settings, the gravy never thickened. Physics breaks when I’m behind the stove.

I mix the beef and veggies into the gravy, and it looks and smells amazing! Now for the final step- topping with mashed potatoes. I had since drained and mashed the potato with butter and milk and let it cool. Now on this particular recipe, the writer had used a frosting-piping-thing (do those have a technical term?) to pipe the potatoes onto the pie in fluffy little peaks. I was super excited about this, because I happen to have a frosting-piping-thing! I scoop the potatoes in to the bag, apply the star tip, and begin piping my little potato mountains. They look beautiful, but I realize immediately that I have not made nearly enough potatoes! I frantically set the piping bag (piping bag! Is that what it’s called??) down and scrape out the pan to get every last ounce of potatoes out. I pick up the piping bag, and potatoes fly everywhere.

I’d set the piping bag on the hot burner. The bag is melting.

I scramble to collect all the potatoes clumps off of the stove and back into the pan, and, despite my better judgement and shoving aside thoughts of carcinagous plastic in my food, proceed to then haphazardly scatter them across the top of the pie. So much for pretty little potato peaks.

Fiascos aside, it didn’t look half bad after baking, and my husband confirmed via text just a few minutes ago that it tastes great. We’ll count it as a win!

RIP, piping bag.

Observations for next time:

Make more potatoes.

Buy a new piping bag.

Pay more attention to potentially hot surfaces.


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