Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lighter Shepherd's Pie

Since I am cheap frugal, I often check out cookbooks from the local library.  And the latest has been one of the best: Light & Healthy 2010 by America's Test Kitchen (the same people in charge of Cook's Illustrated).  I've made several of the recipes from this cookbook so far and they have been hugely successful! I still have several more to try before it's due back at the end of the month (apparently, I've overstayed my welcome and have to give the cookbook up). The recipes in this cookbook are a combination of naturally healthier dishes and lightened-up recipes (and bless them, they try to cut down on the cooking and prep time on the recipes, too!).

We recently tried their shepherd's pie recipe.  Shepherd's pie isn't exactly known for its light fare but with ATK's changes, they nixed 300 calories and 26 grams of fat.  It was delicious and quite honestly, you couldn't even taste that it had been lightened. In this recipe, I decreased the chicken broth to provide a slightly thicker sauce as ours was a bit too soupy.  However, Bryant still said it was one of the best he's had.  And just in time for St. Patrick's Day!

Lighter Shepherd's Pie
Taken from: Light & Healthy 2010 by America's Test Kitchen
Serves 6
  •  3 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, minced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1 pound 90% lean ground beef (I used 93% ground sirloin)
  • 5 Tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 cup chicken broth (preferable homemade and low-sodium)
  • 3/4 cup beer (Sorry Guinness, ATK actually prefers amber beers for this recipe - O'Douls was their surprising number one choice!)
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme (I used 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (3-4), peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk*
    *A good substitute for buttermilk is pour 1 Tbsp of lemon or white vinegar in a 1-cup measuring cup and then fill the rest with milk
  1. Adjust the rack to upper-middle position and heat the oven to 375.
  2. Combine carrots, onions, oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt in 12-inch skillet (I used my dutch oven instead). Cover and cook over medium-low until the carrots and onion have softened, 8-10 minutes. Uncover, increase heat to medium, add the beef and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until almost cooked through but still slightly pink, 5-6 minutes. Stir in the flour, tomato paste and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Gradually whisk in the broth, beer, Worcestershire, and thyme. (Start potatoes in step 4 at this point). Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened but still saucy, 20-25 min. Take off heat and stir in peas and corn, season with salt and pepper and transfer to broiler safe 2-quart casserole dish (my dutch oven was broiler safe so I didn't switch dishes).
  4. While filling simmers,bring 2 quarts water, potatoes and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to a simmer in large saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until the potatoes are tender, 15-20 min. Drain potatoes and return to saucepan. Mash potatoes with buttermilk until smooth, then season with salt and pepper.
  5. Spread the potatoes over the filling (they recommend starting at the outside of the dish and spreading to the middle with a rubber spatula) and smooth the top.  Make sure that the filling completely covers the top. Bake until filling is bubbling, about 15 min. Turn on broiler and broil until top is golden brown, 3-5 min. Transfer dish to wire rack and let cool 10 min.

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