Please. No shepherd’s pie made with hamburger. I have never gotten used to shepherd’s pie made with ground beef. For one thing, I like meals that can cut the preparation time and mess to a minimum and today’s shepherd’s pie is usually made from scratch — cooking the potatoes, frying the meat, etc.
Old time shepherd’s pie was one of those recipes that came about to use up leftovers. In this case, last night’s pot roast, mashed potatoes and corn or carrots. This also means you’ll have some gravy to add to the goodness.
Why waste time, dirty more pans, and use more electricity to cook the vegetables from scratch when, if you cook extra vegetables the night before with your roast, all ingredients are already cooked and ready to put into the casserole for baking the next day? Easy as 1-2-3.
So, with last nights mashed potatoes, corn or sliced carrots — I prefer carrots — and pot roast with gravy, all you have to do is assemble and bake, or basically heat up. The pot roast and gravy go on the bottom, a layer of carrots or corn in the middle and mashed potatoes on top with another layer of gravy.
I double guarantee you it’s a big step up from what is called shepherd’s pie today.
So many meals can be put together from these cooked-ahead, left over, foods. “Time is money,” as they say. (I’ve never known who "they" is, but I’ll take their word for it). So is saved cooking time.
I have a collection of one pot and “cook once, eat twice” meals. I’ve developed them over the years because, first off, I’m basically lazy.
Another of my favorites is, when making chicken broth for soup stock, instead of using yesterdays roast chicken carcass, I put the whole chicken in the stock pot and, along with the onions, celery, carrots and such for stock, I’ll halve two whole potatoes in their skins and four or five extra carrots. Then, after an hour and a half or so, I take out the chicken, potatoes and extra carrots for that night’s supper. I have one potato for supper and save the other one for fried potatoes with bacon and eggs for breakfast. I’ll take off enough chicken for that meal and enough for a sandwich lunch the next day. Then I’ll strip off the meat for the soup. The remainder of the chicken and bones goes back in the stew pot to continue simmering down for stock.
Then I have everything for five to six good bowls of soup.
Most of us make the best of home made spaghetti sauce for additional meals, like lasagna and/or sausage grinders. I make my spaghetti sauce like I was taught, many years ago, by an Italian “nunni” from northern Italy. It has more meat — hamburger, ground pork or pork sausage and chicken and fewer tomatoes. I use a couple chicken breasts that I take out for a separate meal. The taste of the chicken adds a subtle taste to the sauce.
Then, after a spaghetti meal, there’s sauce for lasagna and for my favorite, sweet sausage grinders.
These I make with fried sweet Italian sausage and sautéed green peppers with onions, covered in sauce — in a grinder roll. These were a regular treat from Angelina’s Submarine Shops in the Berkshires, where I lived for many years — more than 40 years ago. They’re still up and running and a "must stop" when there. I’ve never found any to compare anywhere else in the country.
So yes, my cook once, eat twice or thrice, comes from my being basically lazy, but aside from liking to cut down on work, especially dirty pots and pans, I also have an interest in saving money on my electric bill.
Marion Tucker-Honeycutt, an award winning columnist, is a graduate of Belfast now living in Morrill.