Saturday, January 2, 2010

For the Love of Leftovers

I am married to a person who doesn't do leftovers. No reheating an extra portion for lunch the next day. No putting it sliced up into a sandwich or tossing it over lettuce for a salad. If it looks anything like what we had in the past few days, it's out. But complete transformation is a different story all together. And the thing about a leftovers shepherd's pie is that the bits and peices can build up for weeks from such a variety of different meals that any one origin is unrecognizable. Of course, this means that an exact recipe for the dish is impossible, but I'm going to give the specifics of a truly fantastic one I made last night. One of the great benefits of this one: there were three teens and a toddler eating alongside us adults, and though each of the kids' plates had something piled up on the side at the end of the meal, there was such a variety of meat and veggies that each one had been able to fully enjoy a nourishing meal!

The trick to making this is saving things up in the freezer
Preheat oven to 350.
After making sure everything is chopped to roughly the same size (it's easy to further chop all of these things while they're fozen). Mix together in a big bowl:

2-3 cups cubed leftover steak or roast (If there's a piece of steak or roast that goes uneaten at a meal, I cube it and then put it in a marked freezer bag)
1/2-1 cup leftover roasted sweet potatoes

1/2 cup leftover sauteed greens

1-2 cups cubed leftover roasted carrotts (these are so good in so many things, any time I'm making a roast I put in 3-4 extra carrotts just to have in the freezer)

1/2-1 cup cubed leftover roasted shallotts or onions (ditto)

1/4-1/2 cup roughly chopped frozen blanched carrotts

1-2 cups roughly chopped frozen blanched green beans

Toss with a thick gravey. I make this on the spot:

In a large pan, melt 2 T butter. Add 2 T flour and mix well. Add 2 cups beef broth, 1/4 cup at a time and mixing very well between each to keep a nice thick gravey. If your beef broth was pretty rich and thick, you're set. If it was on the clear side, add 1 beef bullion cube mashed in a few tablespoons of hot water.
Pour the mixture into a big deep baking dish.
Top with about 6 cups fresh or frozen mashed potatoes. If you've frozen these, be sure to let them thaw before you put them on so that you can spread them well. Any favorite mashed potato recipe will work, but this one is particularly fantastic:

Mashed Potatoes
Peel and cube 6-8 potatoes. Any kind works, and my favorite is actually a blend. Steam the potatoes until soft, about 20 minutes. Transfer potatoes to a big bowl and smash, using a ricer or really big fork, with 2 T butter, 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, 1 T salt, and 1-2 tsp. freshly grated pepper. The parmesan cheese is the secret ingredient that makes these. Add a little more if you really want to taste it.
After you've spread the mashed potatoes over the filling, bake at 350 for an hour, then if you're not quite ready to eat turn down to 250 and it can keep going for up to another hour.
Serves 6 comfortably.

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