Monday, August 3, 2009

Shepherd's Pie with Bison & Gruyere

Don't ask what possessed me to make such a filling dish at the height of the heat of summer. I really have no idea other than I like trying to use up what I have on hand to make something tasty. It's pretty much one of my favorite games to play.

I've made a lot of shepherd's pies in my time. I enjoy how one can substitute and not hurt the heart of the dish. It's meat & veggies at their finest. I've used lamb, sausage, ground beef, chicken, you name it! All have turned out tasty following the basic 1,2,3 of assembling this dish. However, this time, I decided to switch up the winning formula with a layer of grated gruyere. Wow. Try it- you won't be sorry! (Although, unlike my glutton for punishment/heat self, you may want to wait until Fall ;) )

Shepherd's Pie w/Bison & Gruyere

1 1/2 - 2 lbs white russet potatoes, peeled, cut in 1/2" dice
1/4 c. cream
2 Tbsp butter
Salt & Pepper to taste
Approx. 3 cans low-sodium chicken broth (reserve broth)

*Ricer recommended equipment

1 lb Bison/buffalo
2 Tbsp butter
2 carrots, brunoised (small dice)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tspn fresh chopped thyme
1 c. reserved broth from potatoes
1/2 c. corn & peas (fresh or frozen)
1 c. freshly grated Gruyere
Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place cream and butter in the bottom of a large, stainless steel bowl. Prep potatoes, cover with broth in a deep pot. Bring to a boil until tender (approx. 10 - 15 minutes). Strain broth, reserving 1 cup for filling and a little of the rest to mix in to the potatoes. Run potatoes through the ricer into the cream/butter bowl. Mix lightly and season to taste with salt & pepper. Add a little reserved broth to moisten if the potatoes get tight while waiting on the filling to cook.

Warm next 2 tbsp of butter in a deep skillet over medium heat. Add onions and carrots, sauteeing until soft. Add minced garlic, cook for another minute before adding bison. Brown meat, then add tomato paste, reserved cup of broth, thyme, corn and peas. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Place filling mixture in a 2 Qt. casserole dish. Scatter top of filling with gruyere. Spread potatoes on top of filling and cheese, spreading smoothly w/a spatula until all corners and sides are sealed (keeps it from bubbling up). Optional - cross hatch top w/a fork for interesting design and a little extra crunchy texture when fully cooked.

Bake at 400 degrees approx 25-30 minutes or until top is lightly browned. Let sit 10-15 minutes prior to serving.

* If you have frozen your pie after making it and thawed it in the fridge overnite, bake at 350, covered w/foil for abt. an hour. Then broil the top a minute or two for some golden brown crispy goodness.

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