Shepherd’s Pie

Things have been busy around here lately.  Planning trips, taking Tikki to get his yearly checkup and shots(usually consists of 3 visits), trying to figure out this new camera, dinner parties, and just daily life can really wear ya out!

Tikki is always such a trooper when it comes to going to the vet. He is always so happy to see people, somebody, literally anybody! Just the idea of going somewhere excites him to no end.  He is reminiscent of a crackhead that just got their fix.  That is until we return home, then he is done.  He wears himself completely out in the hour or two that we’re gone.

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This is Tikki the moment we get home from the vet and sit down. Out like a light.

However, he’s up to date on his shots and is as healthy as six pound horse!

We have been in desperate need of a vacation, so we have planned a trip to Oregon in early February. Hopefully, we will be able to do some snowboarding on Mt. Bachelor and spend some quality time with family.  I feel like both of those are totally going to happen. Fingers crossed I come home with at least one awesome story and some killer recipes….should I say killer recipes?  Hell, you get what I mean.

Anyway, the weather has been insane lately.  It’s raining, it’s 70 degrees, it’s snowing (a lot), it’s 65 degrees the next day, snowing, 28 degrees, sunny. The weather is like Sybil! (I’m almost certain most of you won’t get the reference, however for the ones that do, I applaud you!) It snowed fairly heavily here and I was trying to think of something that would be warm and comforting for dinner.  Then it hit me! Shepherd’s pie would be magnificent on such a cold gloomy day.  The deep rich flavors of the lamb that are brought to the forefront with the addition of the red wine, the smell of the rosemary and thyme filling the house, and the decadence the mashed potatoes bring is just….well….it makes me want to die and fuck off to heaven!

So, it seems as if we need to get this show on the road. By the way, if you want to use ground beef in yours, go for it!  It’s then called a ‘Cottage Pie’.  If you add breadcrumbs to the top it’s called a ‘Cumberland Pie’. No matter what you choose, it’s going to turn out great!

Ingredients:

For the filling:

2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

1.5 lbs ground lamb

1 large carrot, grated

1 large onion, grated

4 cloves of garlic, grated

1 bag of frozen peas (about 1.5 cups-ish)

1 Teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped

1 Teaspoon fresh thyme

3 Tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce

3 Tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup of red wine, something you’d drink

1/4 cup of chicken stock

A pinch of Cayenne pepper

Salt & Pepper to taste

For the Mashed potatoes:

1.5 lbs of Yukon Gold Potatoes, chopped into equal pieces

1/4 cup of heavy cream

4 Tablespoons of butter

2 Egg yolks

1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Salt, to taste

Instructions: 

Preheat your oven to 400°f. Get a pot of water boiling on the stove top, throw in some salt, your potatoes, and let them go for about 15 minutes.  Poke them with a knife to check for doneness, it should go in and come out easily. Drain the water off of those suckers and mash away. I use a potato ricer to do mine with, but if you just have a old-school potato masher that will work great as well. For real though, you need to look into getting a ricer. Mix your mash with the 1/4 cup of heavy cream, 4 Tbsp butter, 2 egg yolks, half of your Parmesan cheese and salt (to taste). Your mash is done, now just keep it warm and let’s start on the filling!

Start by grating your carrot, onion, and garlic or use a food processor.

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Next, add olive oil to a large hot pan or Dutch oven and add your meat.  Now, you are going to have to stir this meat like your life is depending on it! It needs to be broken down into tiny little pieces. Cook the meat until it’s browned.

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Drain the fat off of the meat and return it back to the cooking vessel. Add in your thyme, rosemary, garlic, and Cayenne. Stir that into the meat and let it cook for a minute or two.  Add in your onion and carrot and stir some more!

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What we are trying to do here is get everything broken down into a fine or mince consistency.  Add the Worcestershire sauce and tomato paste into the meat and mix well. Next, throw in the red wine (use any red wine except for cooking wine). Let that cook down for about 2 minutes then add in your chicken stock and frozen peas, cook that down for 3 – 4 more minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

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Place the meat mixture into a deep oven safe dish and spread the mashed potatoes over the top with a spoon or offset spatula. Take a fork and rough up the top a little to create some peaks and crevasses (trust me you want to do this for epic little brown crusty bits of potato). Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese over the top, feel free to add more, I always do. 20170108_003213

Pop that beautiful thing in a preheated 400°f oven for 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown and delicious!

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There’s nothing left to do except let this flavor bomb cool for about 5 minutes to let the filling set, serve it up, and listen to the ‘oohs and ahhs’…prepare yourself, they will be deafening.

I really hope you give this recipe a try, if you do leave a comment and let me know how it goes.  Thanks for stopping by!  Until next time, Ciao!

Beef & Cheese Manicotti

Happy New Year from all of us here at Is Butter A Carb headquarters! I hope your holidays were just as fabulous as ours have been.  It’s always so nice to visit with family, especially those you haven’t seen in a very long time. The holidays around here are always packed with lots of travel and unexpected visitors and honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Ok, enough with all the holiday mumbo jumbo. I’m hopeful that you read my last post and made my tomato sauce. I’m going to wager that you did and it turned out lovely!  Now, you’re wondering “what can I use this delicious sauce for?”, well I’ll tell ya!  Tonight we are using it for Beef & Cheese Manicotti! It’s such an easy dish and the results are out of this world!  Whether you want an easy weeknight dinner or you need to feed a crowd this is the recipe for you.  The richness of the cheese with the acidity of the tomato sauce…I’m pretty sure you’re about to fall in love! So, let’s get to it!

Ingredients:

4 Teaspoons olive oil

1 Medium onion, coarsely chopped

1 Pound ground beef

1 Package of Manicotti (8-ounce package)

1 Container ricotta (15-ounce)

3 Cups shredded mozzarella

1 Cup grated Parmesan

2 Tablespoons fresh Italian parsley leaves, chopped

2 Garlic cloves, minced

3 Cups tomato sauce

2 Tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Instructions:

Get out a heavy skillet or dutch oven (I always use a dutch oven) and put it on medium heat.  Add a teaspoon of olive oil and let it heat up a bit.  Once you think the oil is heated add your beef and onions. Go ahead and season with salt and pepper to taste.

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You’re going to saute this until the meat is browned and the onions become translucent.  It should take about 6 or 7 minutes. Then just remove it from the heat, set aside, and let it cool.

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Next use a teaspoon of oil and brush it over a large baking sheet. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the Manicotti just until it softens slightly, it should take 5 or 6 minutes.  You want it to remain fairly firm to the bite, if you don’t it’s going to be a bitch to try to stuff. Drain and transfer the Manicotti to the oiled baking sheet to cool. Go ahead and preheat your oven to 350°F.

Grab a big mixing bowl and combined 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese, the ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup of Parmesan, garlic,  Italian parsley and salt & pepper to taste. Then mix your little heart out until it’s well combined.

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Once that is thoroughly mixed, add in your cooled beef and onions and mix all of that up until it’s well combined. Lots of stirring going on here.

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Grab yourself a 13x9x2 inch glass baking dish and take 2 teaspoons of olive oil and oil it up real good, imagine the dish as a “professional wrastler” if that helps.  Spread 1 1/2 cups of the tomato sauce I taught you about in the last post over the bottom of the prepared (well oiled) baking dish.  Fill your Manicotti with the beef and cheese mixture.  I personally find that the easiest way to do this is with my hands, some people use a pastry bag. However, for me that’s just extra shit I have to clean up and I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life.  So just use your hands.

Now, arrange the stuffed Manicotti in a single layer in the baking dish and pour the remaining tomato sauce over. Feel free to add more sauce if you like, because you are indeed the John Gotti of your Manicotti!

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Sprinkle the rest of the mozzarella cheese (1 1/2 cups) and the remaining Parmesan cheese (1/2 cup) over the pasta.  Again, if you want more cheese…GO FOR IT! Dot the entire dish with the pieces of butter.

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Bake the dish uncovered for about 30 to 35 minutes.  You want it to be heated through and for the sauce to bubble on the sides of the dish. After you take it out let it cool for about 5 minutes or so.

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Now you’re ready to serve it up!

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There you have it, Beef & Cheese Manicotti! I just know you’re going love this recipe and it’s sure to be a crowd pleaser. If you do make this dish (and i really hope you do) let me know how it turns out in the comments below!  If you have any questions feel free to comment or contact me on the contact page.  I hope you enjoy this easy Italian dish and until next time, Ciao!