Sunday, March 08, 2015

Battle of the Shepherd's Pie



While searching for dinner recipes a couple of  weeks ago, I found two shepherd's pie recipes and they both looked so good I couldn't choose between them, so I decided to have a shepherd's pie tasting weekend and make one pie each night and ask my family for their opinions.  Boy, do we know how to have fun.

One dish meals are my jam and Shepherd's pie, in one form or another has been one of my dinner staples for years.  Back when we were poor hippie vegetarians, I made Mollie Katzen's version at least three times a month.  (Eggplant, mushrooms and other vegetables, with yogurt mixed into the mashed potato crust.)  Shepherd's pie is a great thrifty meal, since you can make use of whatever you happen to have on hand.  Traditional shepherd's pie is made with lamb, but I don't think I have ever used lamb.

Food in my Beard's chicken tikka masala sheperd's pie was the contender on Saturday night.  Made with boneless chicken thighs cooked in crushed tomatoes, garlic, ginger, jalapenos and Indian spices.  The crust is a combination of mashed potatoes and mashed roasted cauliflower. It was delicious.  The recipe calls for five jalapenos, so I worried it would be unbearably spicy, but the bit of Greek yogurt stirred into the dish cuts the heat just enough.  The chicken was tender and the cauliflower, which was roasted in a hot oven before before being mashed with the potatoes added an earthy, smoky flavor.

The "meat" of this pie


With the crust added


Mel's Kitchen Cafe's Shepherd's pie was Sunday's dinner.  It's made with ground beef and vegetables in a broth-based sauce.  The mashed potato topping has a lot of cheese and there's an egg yolk stirred in for extra richness. "Rich" is an apt word for this pie.  Jon and the kids preferred this one to the chicken pie, but I preferred the chicken one because it seemed healthier (higher quality vegetables and no cheese) and had a more interesting flavor.  Not to say that Mel's recipe is bad!  It was tasty, satisfying, and a bit decadent.

Before the crust is added




With the crust
Do you ever ask your family to participate in taste tests?

11 comments:

  1. Here's an unsavory confession: my favorite version of shepherd's pie involves velveeta mixed in with the meat and vegetables. Do I hear the sound of retching from the audience?

    I just did a blind taste test on two kind of vanilla yogurt: Stoneyfield and Dannon. I am addicted to the Stoneyfield one and it's amazing that both yogurts are made in the same plant and taste so different.

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    1. I'm not ashamed to admit that I love velveeta!

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  2. My family is forced to participate. It's that or cereal for dinner.

    I made a shepard's pie with lamb for Pat's birthday this year - it was a huge hit, as everyone else in my house are lamb fans (I am not, so we rarely eat it). The chicken pie looks like a very interesting variation - I suspect it would go over well here.

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    1. I love lamb. There's a lamb version in My Irish Table, which I have checked out from the library right now. The only thing that holds me back is that lamb is so expensive.

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  3. I'm a little wary of the very spicy version, but I've learned to try anything! I might make the beef one with shredded beef as I am not much of a ground beef fan. I do like the idea of potatoes and cauliflower for the crust. Thanks for the reviews!

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    1. The cauliflower was really yummy. I love roasted cauliflower.

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  4. My husband will eat anything as long as it doesn't contain anything in the onion family or sweet peppers, since he's allergic to those. (My daughter rarely seems to eat things I cook, but I have to admit I don't cook all that often anymore.)

    That first pie, with the chicken, sounds wonderful. The combination of flavor sounds delicious, and I love cauliflower (especially roasted) in anything. I do not like ground beef, unless it's in my recipe for meatloaf or a hamburger. If I ever happened to have shredded beef, I'd try it with that, but it's unlikely that will happen :-)

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    1. There are onions in the chicken version, but you could just eliminate them.

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  5. the humble cauliflower seems to be having a bit of a kitchen renaissance!!

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  6. Now I am hungry! Both of those look scrumptious.

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  7. Oh my. You DO know how to have fun! They both sound fantastic.

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