Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Recipe in Progress: Southern Style Shepherds’ Pie

Even before the price of food starting going up, I saved money by packing leftovers for my lunch instead of going out on most days. I only went out for lunch as a treat like once a month. I would plan weeknight dinners that worked well as leftovers. After dinner, I would pack the leftovers into lunch size portable containers and put them in the fridge. All I had to do the next morning was grab the container and go. With just a little planning - it was a snap.

Shepherds’ Pie is one such dish because it is fairly easy to make if you are able to use an oven-proof sauce pan and then move the sauce pan directly from the stove top to under the broiler. The dish is also very kid friendly, and it is versatile, using up any kind of frozen or leftover vegetables readily available. I came up with this sweeter version to shake it up a bit.

Caveat 1: I wanted to call this Southern Shepherds’ Pie, but I can’t claim any authenticity, since I grew up in the Mid-Atlantic, and now live in New England. Consequently, I added “Southern Style” so no one can accuse me of being a poser.

Caveat 2: Overall this turned out good, but based on my husband’s feedback, I’m going to tweak it, and may post a revised version later.

The Recipe:
1 lb. of ground beef
1 tbs. of canola oil
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped green pepper
1/3 cup chopped carrot
1 (15.5 oz.) can of sloppy joe mix, such as Manwich - I used el cheapo brand
1 (29 oz.) can of sweet potatoes - I used Princella
3 tbs. of butter
¼ - ½ cup of skim milk
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese

In a large sauce pan, preferably one that is oven-proof, brown the ground beef over medium high heat, drain in a colander, and set aside. In the same sauce pan, add the canola oil and then the onion, green pepper and carrot. Sauté the vegetables until tender, and then add the drained ground beef back to the pan.

Add the sloppy joe sauce to the beef and vegetable mixture and reduce the heat to low. While the sloppy joe beef mixture is warming, drain the canned sweet potatoes, and put in a large mixing bowl and add the butter. Mix the sweet potatoes and butter with electric beaters. Then while mixing, gradually, add the milk a couple of tablespoons at a time until you reach the desired consistency.

If your sauce pan is oven-proof, top the sloppy joe beef mixture with the mashed sweet potatoes, right in the same sauce pan you used to cook the sloppy joe mixture. Otherwise, move the sloppy joe mixture to an oven-proof casserole dish, and then top with the mashed sweet potatoes. Top the mashed sweet potatoes with the shredded cheddar cheese.

Place the sauce pan or casserole dish under the broiler for just a minute or two until the cheese is melted. Be careful since the cheese will melt quickly under the broiler.

Let sit for one minute and then serve.

Serves: 4-6 (This made enough for my husband, toddler, and me for two meals: dinner and lunch the next day. My toddler doesn’t eat much, and my husband eats huge quantities of food.)


The Reviews:

Name: Rob
Relation: My husband
Age: Early 30’s
Comments: Overall this was very good, but he felt the mashed sweet potatoes were too soft and recommended omitting the milk next time. He also suggested adding brown sugar to the mashed sweet potatoes, which I had considered but deliberately omitted because I thought the sloppy joe sauce combined with brown sugar would make the dish too sweet.

Name: Fiona
Relation: My daughter
Age: 17 mos.
Comments: Mmmmmmm!

The Cost: $7.24 - estimated*

How did I keep the cost so low? By using mostly el cheapo brands, and buying 75% lean beef that was on sale because the sell-by date was the following day. Some of you may have higher standards, but for what it’s worth, it tasted good and my family is still alive to tell about it. I froze the stuff immediately, and thawed it in the refrigerator the day before I used it.

*When possible, I tried to calculate the costs, but I felt a little silly determining how much 3 tbs. of butter and a ½ cup of milk costs, and in truth, I don’t measure exactly when I cook so consider these prices simply estimates.

1 lb. of ground beef - $1.74
1 tbs. of canola oil - gosh I don’t know - I bought the stuff a while ago and don’t have a receipt. Probably negligible.
1/3 cup chopped onion - $0.39
1/3 cup chopped green pepper - $0.42
1/3 cup carrot - $0.42
1 (15.5 oz.) can of sloppy joe mix - $0.86
1 (29 oz.) can of sweet potatoes - $1.68
3 tbs. of butter - $0.26
¼ - ½ cup of skim milk - $0.13
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese - $1.34

The Next Rendition: For the mashed sweet potatoes, I’m either going to omit the milk or add just a couple of tablespoons. I’m also going to add a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar. For the beef and vegetable mixture, I’m going to add some frozen corn. I’ll let ya’ll (getting my southern accent on) know how it goes.

No comments: