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Make Ahead Monday: Shepherd’s Pie with Asian Flavors

After one of my readers asked that I develop some slow cooker recipes (hi, Jen!!), Beloved started suggesting I do a weekly blog carnival featuring meals that can be made ahead, either in terms of something you can put in the slow cooker in the morning or something that can be made ahead, say on the weekend, and reheated or fully cooked later in the week, that others can link up to.

So I give you Make Ahead Mondays.

I don’t expect a lot of participation right away (frankly, I’ll be amazed if I get any links today), but I intend to be patient and keep this up for awhile.  I know that a lot of my readers are working people who often find it difficult to find the time to cook nutritious meals every evening, especially during the week.  If this idea catches on, it will be a great way for those of us with blogs to exchange ideas for meals that can be made ahead and served quickly on a busy weeknight, and for those readers without blogs to find inspiration.

My first entry is Shepherd’s Pie, a pretty easy casserole that classically was made with the meat leftover from a Sunday roast (and you can still go that route if you like – it’d be a great way to use those leftovers).  However, I made this with 2 pounds of grass-fed ground beef that I’d taken out of the freezer and just didn’t know what to do with; neither meatloaf nor hamburgers sounded all that appealing.  And since Shepherd’s Pie recipes are fairly ubiquitous on the internet – and basically the same – I decided to mix things up a little bit, giving it an Asian flair.

I cannot even begin to describe how delicious this was.  I wasn’t sure how well the Asian flavors would translate into what is traditionally a British dish, but it really could not have come out any better – warm, comforting, hearty and still slightly exotic, but not unduly so.  Folks, this is my idea of comfort food, and Beloved loved it too.  And since it reheats so well – we ate it for lunch for the next two days – it seemed a logical choice for my first Make Ahead Monday post.

If you decide to freeze it, either thaw it and allow it to come to room temperature before placing it in the hot oven, or you can leave it frozen and place it in a cold oven that your bring up to the correct temperature – 350 F – but you will likely double, if not triple, the baking time.

Please don’t be intimidated by the list of ingredients or the lengthy directions – this really came together quite quickly and easily.

Shepherd’s Pie with Asian Ingredients

Shepherd’s Pie with Asian Flavors

serves 8

3 pounds sweet potato, peeled and cubed (about 2 large)
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon ginger, freshly grated
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon tallow or other cooking fat
2 pounds ground beef
2 cups beef stock, preferably homemade
1 cup carrots, peeled and thinly sliced on the bias
1 cup celery, sliced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 cup onions, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup tamari or gluten-free soy sauce
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Place the sweet potatoes in a large pot and cover with water; add a tablespoon of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until fork tender, about 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes and place in a food processor with the ginger and coconut oil. Whisk the coconut milk and water together in a large measuring cup; process the potatoes, adding the coconut milk mixture in a steady stream until the potatoes are a smooth but thick puree. Taste, season with salt and pepper as needed and set aside.

Melt the tallow in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms to the pan in a single layer and cook, turning occasionally, until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate and set aside.

Increase the heat to medium-high and add the ground beef to the skillet, breaking it up with a spoon or spatula. As the meat browns, add the onions and garlic to the pan. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the meat is cooked through and the onions are beginning to soften. Drain the fat from the pan and discard.

Return the browned mushrooms to the pan, and toss in the carrots and celery; pour in the beef stock and soy sauce. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the mixture for 5 minutes. Whisk the arrowroot into the water and stir into the mixture in the pan; cook, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened. Taste, and season as needed with salt and pepper.

Pour the meat/vegetable mixture into a 2-quart casserole. Carefully spread the sweet potato puree evenly over the top. (At this point, the casserole can be tightly covered and refrigerated or frozen.) Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and the sweet potatoes lightly browned on the top. Allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Nutrition (per serving): 559 calories, 32g total fat, 86.8mg cholesterol, 580.8mg sodium, 1170.3mg potassium, 42.3g carbohydrates, 6.4g fiber, 9.6g sugar, 25.4g protein.

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