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We are still approaching Xmas, however, no Xmas cookies or more Xmas cakes on my blog so far. Instead I opted for shepherd’s pie – not only a shepherd’s pie for next dinner, but a supply for up to 3 dinners. What I mean: I prepared all the ingredients for a shepherd’s pie, filled 3 containers up to the rim, baked the mess & put it all in my freezer. So for the next busy weeks until Xmas & between Xmas & New Year’s Eve & after New Year … I can rely on something in my freezer giving us a nice dinner – in which all we have to do is defrosting & reheating.
I used 3 containers made of glass w/ a tight fitting lid. The containers are about 15 × 15 cm & hold about 1.2oo ml. You may put them in the freezer at -18° C … you may retrieve them & let them get back to room temperature. Afterwards you can put them in a microwave or in an oven to heat them up to at least 200-250° C.
For the record:
You cannot put the containers directly from the freezer into the hot oven!!!
Coming back to shepherd’s pie …
Somehow I assumed that you all know about shepherd’s pie. However, let me sum up:
- it’s a basic layer of vegetables (mainly carrots & peas)
- it’s a middle layer of meat & gravy (mainly minced meat)
- it’s a top layer of mashed potatoes …
- … & on top there’s some grated cheese.
Everything is cooked & fine before layered for a shepherd’s pie. The pie is finalized in the oven.
In general it’s said that you rely on leftovers from your Sunday’s roast. Of course you can also start from the scratch (or almost from the scratch!) as I did. It’s mainly because I planned for at least 3 weekday dinners – & because in general I may rely on lashings of leftovers from Sunday’s roast only rarely.
I told you about my containers … fine. So what about the ingredients?
It worked like this:
- I went shopping (at my trusted food store).
- I bought vegetables & minced meat in amounts on display.
- I decided to work w/ all of the ingredients w/o thinking about how much I’d need for my 3 containers.
- As a result I had 3 containers filled w/ shepherd’s pie & some cooked/fried leftovers.
For the record:
I don’t like leftovers i. e. leftovers of uncooked carrots, uncooked kohlrabi, unroasted meat etc. These tend to fill up your fridge or your pantry – until some are overdue. In most cases the leftovers are rather small quantities so that it’s not enough for another dish … Therefore I try to use anything completely during my planned cooking or baking adventure & have in mind the already prepared food during the next days … for consuming or I just freeze it.
So let’s start!
What do we need for our vegetable layer?
- frozen peas
- spring onions
- some dried chervil & some dried parsley.
We trim, we peel & we chop …
All (except of the frozen peas!) march in a big pot filled w/ water & some salt & we bring it to a boil. Let it cook for about 8-10 min. Then add the frozen peas & bring it again to a boil.
Another 1-2 min of cooking & it’s ready.
Add some butter to the hot mess just for the taste.
The 3 containers are waiting & we fill them w/ the basic layer.
I used about 60-70% of the vegetable mess for my shepherd’s pie.
… & the rest?
This evening we had for dinner a vegetable salad. I mixed a sauce from:
- 2 hard-boiled eggs (crushed & minced)
- 150 g cornichons (finely chopped)
- 150 g Greek yoghurt
- 1 tsp lemon oil
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp sweet French mustard.
Just mix the vegetables w/ the sauce. Ready. Enjoy.
Coming now to the meat layer …
- organic minced meat (beef or a mix of beef & pork)
- red shallots
- bay leaves & dried marjoram.
Once again we peel, we trim, we chop … (we chop finely!) …
All (except of the minced meat) is fried softly in some olive oil for about 10 min. Afterwards we add the crushed minced meat, mix well & fry for about 20 min until we are sure that the meat is well done.
We fill the containers …
I used about 75% of my meat mess.
What to do w/ the rest?
I just added some tomato pulp (Italian – of course!), some Italian herbs & voilà: a nice Bolognese appeared. So next evening we had pasta w/ Bolognese for dinner.
Coming now to the gravy ….
I admit I was lucky. Some weeks ago we had a ham in beer w/ vegetables, matured in our slow cooker, which supplied us w/ lots of gravy.
It was a rather substantial, heavy, tasty gravy: I added some cream when serving the ham then. Most of the original gravy ended in my freezer portioned accordingly. So I grabbed 2 small containers w/ gravy, let it defrost & heated it … I added some cream (as before for our ham-in-beer dinner).
… & spooned the gravy generously all over the shepherd’s pie.
Also this time I only used about 75% of the gravy …
For lunch – one of the next days – I fried some mushrooms & onions w/ Italian herbs. I added the rest of the gravy … & cooked some pasta. All was mixed & served w/ lots of freshly grated pecorino.
Now finally coming to the mashed potatoes …
I had a bag of potatoes w/ 1.5 kg. That’s a lot! (Unfortunately floury potatoes – you definitely need floury potatoes for mashed potatoes – always come in prepackaged bags. This was the smallest bag.) Otherwise it doesn’t matter because my better half & I are big fans of mashed potatoes.
So it’s peeling, trimming, cleaning, dicing … for another time.
Then it’s cooking the potatoes, mashing the potatoes, mixing w/ hot milk & cream … salt & pepper to taste … Don’t forget a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg!
Add the mashed potatoes generously on top!
I added about 50% of the mashed potatoes to the shepherd’s pie.
We had delicious battered fish w/ mashed potatoes.
Let’s now finalize the shepherd’s pie!
I had some grated Gouda & distributed it generously all over the pie containers.
Then I put all containers in my oven (no need of preheating). At 175° C w/ fan it takes about 15-20 min to melt the cheese & leave it slightly brown.
… & now:
- Let the containers cool down to room temperature.
- Close the lids.
- Freeze it.
When reheating I like to put it in the oven once again to get the cheese even a little more brown & crispy.
For the record:
It is a lot of work … you may shorten the time when being able to rely on prepared food. Otherwise it will be a nice payback if you just can grab a container w/ shepherd’s pie, reheat & start your dinner.
- 700 g carrots (before trimming & peeling)
- 1 kohlrabi (about 375 g - before trimming & peeling)
- 400 g frozen peas
- 4 spring onions
- 1 tsp dried chervil
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- salt to taste
- 25-50 g butter
- 800 g minced meat (100% beef or a mix of beef & pork)
- 2 carrots (about 200 g before trimming & peeling)
- 4 red shallots
- 100 g celeriac (from a chunk of 250 g before trimming)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp dried marjoram
- salt & pepper to taste
- 500 ml gravy (from storage)
- 50-100 ml cream (optional - for adjusting)
- 1.500 g floury potatoes (before peeling & trimming)
- 150 ml cream
- 100 ml milk
- a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- salt & pepper to taste
- 100-150 g grated cheese (Gouda or Cheddar or Gruyère or Emmenthaler)
- 3 oven & freezer proof containers w/ lid (about 1.200 ml each / 15 x 15 cm)
- Trim & peel & chop the vegetables (except the frozen peas) & bring them to a boil in a large enough pot w/ enough water adding the herbs & salt.
- Cook for about 8-10 min. Then add the frozen peas. Bring it to a boil again & let it cook for 1-2 min.
- Pour the mess in a colander. Then put the hot mess in a bowl & add the butter. Mix well.
- Add vegetables to the 3 containers; it's the basic layer. You'll need about 60-70% of the prepared vegetables.
- Trim & peel & chop the vegetables finely. Put the mess in a frying pan w/ the olive oil, the bay leaves & the marjoram. Fry softly for about 10 min.
- Crush the minced meat, add to the frying pan, mix well & let it fry for about 20-25 min until the minced meat is well done. Add salt & pepper to taste.
- Add the minced meat meat mess to the 3 containers; it's the middle layer. You'll need about 75% of the prepared meat.
- Start w/ about 500 ml gravy from your storage - of frozen remember taling the gravy out of the freezer some hours before for defrosting.
- Bring the gravy & add some cream - if necessary.
- Add gravy on top of the meat layer in each of the 3 containers. You'll need about 75%.
- Peel, trim & chop the potatoes & cook w/ salt for about 10-15 min. The potatoes have to be really soft.
- Mix milk & cream, add salt & pepper & a pinch of freshly gtrated nutmeg & heat it. Carefully - don't bring it to a boil!
- Drain the potatoes in a colander & return them in the pot. Mash the potatoes & add the milk & cream mix step by step. Whisk vigorously until smooth.
- Add the potato mash to each of the 3 containers. It's the last layer & you'll need about 50% of the potato mash.
- Add generously grated cheese - I had Gouda - on top of the potato mash of each container.
- Put the containers in the oven at 175° C w/ fan for about 15-20 min. The grated cheese has to melt & turn slightly light brown.
- Let the prepared container cool down to romm temperature & put them either in the fridge (fresh department), if you like to serve your shepherd's pie during the next days, or freeze it.
In sum I prepared 3 containers meaning it's enough for 6-9 people. Amounts: I prepared the layers for the shepherd's pie based on the vegetables & meat I bought in my trusted food store. I had a bunch of fresh carrots which were somewhat about 1.000 g w/ greens etc. I bought a packet of floury potatoes which was 1.5 kg. I bought minced meat - organic minced meat packed at 400 g per portion. Of course you can try just to prepare anything so that it fits perfectly for the 3 containers ... Otherwise there isn't any more work to be done if you use all you bought & serve the leftovers separately. Gravy: I happened to have some gravy leftovers from a roast. In general you may use any substantial tasty gravy for the dish. Otherwise create some gravy w/ stock & roast jus & demi-glace. For reheating either use you microwave or - recommendation - put it in oven so that the cheese can melt a little more & get more colorful.