Leftovers with Flair February 8, 2011Posted by Toy Lady in Cooking, Cuisine at Home.
Tags: I finally used those dishes I bought last year, leftovers
Did you ever just stick something in the freezer to get it out of the way? I don’t mean “make two freeze one” sticking things in the freezer. More like “what the heck am I going to do the rest of this leg of lamb?”
It may shock you to hear this, but I’ve been known to just shove it in the freezer until, well, inspiration strikes. Sometimes, though, that just takes a while.
Peeps is a huge fan of lamb – I am not. I’ll eat it, sure, but it’s never going to be my first choice. And when he left for Jersey, I had a good-sized chunk of meat left that I knew I wasn’t going to eat while he was gone.
So I chucked it in the freezer for “later.”
We got the December issue of Cuisine at Home, and hey, what do you know, one of the recipes featured was for “Shepherd’s Pie with Moroccan Spices.”
And I thought to myself
Self, I’ll bet I could do something like that with that leftover lamb and get it the heck out of the freezer!
“Later.” Later has arrived. Heh.
I took a look at the recipe, and I knew I’d have to make some, um, adjustments. I was starting with about a pint container of already-cooked, diced leg of lamb, rather than the 4 pounds of shoulder chops called for in the recipe.
We can do this.
I started with that diced meat, and I tossed it, still frozen, into a hot pan, just to make sure it was well-done (my preference for lamb, plus I wanted to brown it a little).
Then we removed the lamb from the pan and browned a small onion (diced) (obviously) and a couple of cloves of garlic, then added 1/8 tsp. each of cinnamon, cumin, ground ginger, coriander, and allspice.
I love that Moroccan-style spice combination of cinnamon, cumin and ginger. It’s probably far from authentic, but it’s so exotic, yet somehow comforting.
Once the spices have bloomed, we added some flour (1 Tbsp. to thicken) and about half a tablespoon or so of tomato paste (also helps thicken plus adds flavor)
Once we whisk in 1/2 cup of beef stock, a splash of red wine (maybe a couple of tablespoons), a Tbsp. or so of lemon juice, and a teaspoon of Worcestershire, we’ll add about 1/2 cup of diced tomatoes, a sprig (that amounts to a Tbsp.) of fresh mint, and maybe 1/4 cup of chopped dried apricots, then add the cooked lamb back in and set the whole mess aside.
The original recipe called for dried figs too, but I couldn’t find any. Where would you even look in the supermarket for dried figs (besides Fig Newtons in the cookie aisle)?
Meanwhile, Peeps turned his attention to the topping.
This isn’t just your average shepherd’s pie, you know, with mashed potatoes. Oh no. It has a sweet potato topping.
The topping included about a pound of sweet potatoes and a couple of small-ish russet potatoes – all peeled and cubed, and all cooked together.
Once cooked, the potatoes got mashed together, along with a splash of milk, a couple of Tablespoons of milk, and an egg yolk. A little salt and pepper to taste, and we were set.
Since there were just the two of us, I divided the filling between two mini-casserole dishes that I picked up at the pottery shop last year, then we spread the topping on top of them. I wanted to pipe the potatoes on to make them pretty, but in the end, I decided it was probably more trouble than it was worth.
We placed the mini casseroles on a sheet pan, because I know that no matter how carefully I spread the potatoes on the casserole, there’s going to be bubbling and oozing, and I’d rather clean it off a sheet pan than off the pizza stones on the bottom of the oven.
Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes, let it rest a few minutes, and there you go. Shepherds pie with Moroccan flavors AND using up that leftover lamb. Where’s the bad?