Thursday, January 14, 2010

Shepherd's Pie (yes, more pie)

Hello, lover.

I'm talking to the potatoes.

So, I've been thinking about my stomach a lot lately. It's large. It is. I know this because every time I go in for a physical my doctor discretely hands me print-outs for the Mediterranean diet and sometimes Weight Watchers. I'm your classic "apple" all belly and butt. My husband seems not to care, and I don't really care, except that it's January and every time I turn on Regis and Kelly they've got some new diet guru on and since I only watch Regis and Kelly when I'm upstairs getting into, or getting out of, the shower, I'm often a bit vulnerable.

So, a couple of days ago this guy named Jorge Cruse is on and he's talking about "belly fat," and I hear him and I think, "hey! I've got some of that!" and I decide to actually stand in front of the little tv in our bedroom and listen for once, and the guy sounds good. He's a little bouncy - a Tiggerish kind of guy - but I like what he's saying. Like it enough anyway to go over to my local Borders and read his book up in the cafe while sipping a mocha latte and nibbling on a bit of a muffin.

I took notes.

And what I came away with is that Jorge believes belly fat is caused by excess insulin as opposed to the amount of calories you take in. He's all about cutting the sugar, and switching out the carbs for the ones with whole grains, etc., yadda yadda yadda. And then I get to the good part: he's also all about cream and butter. Not eliminating them, USING them - without guilt. Without counting them. And I almost choke on my muffin because if you told me to give up ice cream, or candy, or even (gasp) cheese cake, I'd be like, okay... (swallow)... I can maybe do that. But the moment you say no more Irish butter (which is what my physician was seriously implying) - I say $%$#@ that! The butter stays. Don't mess with my Kerrygold.

So I took enough notes to understand that it's all about keeping the sugar down and the carbs to a certain minimum and if you want to know more, you can google the guy. I'm going to think about it for a few more days, and I might go visit his book at Border's again, and if my Library gets it in the next month or so, I may even actually borrow it --

However, in the mean time, I think Jorge might like this dinner I made tonight - which was shepherd's pie made with buffalo meat. Buffalo is a naturally lean meat, which is better for you (and more interesting tasting) than your basic hamburger. (I know - classic shepherd's pie involves lamb, but ground lamb involves the extra step of asking a butcher to grind it and I think we all know how I feel about taking the extra step.) The big news with this recipe is that there's both butter and cream in those potatoes... it is not for the faint of heart. So for all you last-decade calorie counters out there, this recipe is probably not for you -- but for anyone who is (shakily) interested in banishing sugar for a while in favor of good old, all American FAT -- I say: enjoy!

(Buffalo) Shepherd's Pie
1 lb ground buffalo meat
a swirl of olive oil
1 leek, sliced in half length-wise, then roughly chopped (then rinsed to get out the grit)
1 celery stalk
sea or kosher salt to taste
pepper to taste
1TBLSP Worcestershire sauce
1TBLSP heavy cream
2 cups of frozen peas (or spinach, or one of those veggie mixes with the peas and carrots and corn all cut up in the nice uniform dices)

3 or 4 large potatoes, or 5 or six small red ones, peeled and cut into chunks
large pinch of Kosher or sea salt
3/4 stick of unsalted butter
1 TBLSP of heavy cream
about 1/2 cup (more or less) of 2%milk (Jorge would NOT like the milk, there's a lot of sugar grams in milk - which I did not know until I looked.)
more salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375.

Brown the meat in an oven proof hot skillet swirled with olive oil. When the meat is mostly brown, but not too cooked, take it out and pour off all but about a TBLSP of the fat. Put the skillet back over a medium flame and then add the leeks and celery and a pinch of salt. Cook until they are slightly softened, then throw the meat back in the pan, along with the rest of the filling ingredients. Stir everything around to distribute, and give it a quick taste, adjusting the seasoning if necessary.

While the meat was browning, you should have been boiling those potatoes. Put the potatoes in a big pot, cover them with cold water and a large pinch of salt, bring them to a boil and cook until you can easily pierce them with a knife. Drain, return potatoes to pot. Add butter and mash. Add cream and mash. Add milk, just enough for the potatoes to get creamy.

Now, scoop out those potatoes spread them over the meat mixture and stick the whole thing in the oven for about 20-30 minutes, depending on how hot your oven is. (Mine needs adjusting, so it took the full 30) or until the peaks of your potatoes are golden. Let the dish rest for 7 to 10 minutes before serving.

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