Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Gardeners Pie (No Shepherds required)

Yes, this is another vegetarian recipe. Don’t act surprised, and before the carnivores all walk out in a huff I should point out that I actually had a request for more Vegetarian recipes. I am always both shocked and amazed when I discovered that someone has actually read the blog and taken the time to give me feedback, so I am more than happy to take their requests on board. It is certainly no problem for me to cook more vegetarian food. The good news for lovers of all things meaty is that once again you can use meat if you really want to.

Shepherds pie is made with lamb and cottage pie is made with beef, right? I’m going to call this ‘Gardeners Pie’ since its chock full of vegetable good ness. There was a suggestion it could be called ‘Brewers’ Pie’ as well, because I ended up using two different styles of beer in the finished product. Next time I might try for three.

This is one of the easiest pies in the world to make, due to the lack of pastry. You could put it in a pastry shell if you want, but it’s not necessary. It’s just a case of making the delicious savoury filling, covering it with delicious mashed potato and baking it the oven until delicious. I upped the delicious ante on this one by using Sean ‘Homebrew Chef’ Paxton’s roasted garlic IPA mash on top. This magic mash converted my mash-hating husband into a mash-lover, thus is the power of beer.

As it seems to be the case in most of my recipes, I just happened to have an appropriate bottle of beer in my cupboard - the Bridge Road Robust Porter. Porters are fantastic for cooking savoury dishes of both the vegetarian and meaty kinds, as they have the dark roasty flavour without being overly bitter. For the mash I used a Lobethal India Pale Al, but have made the same mash successfully with other IPAs. Only a small amount is used in the mash, so bitterness isn’t an issue. The hoppier the better though.

What to plant in your pie:

1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup diced shallots (or 1 medium brown onion, diced finely)
3 cloves garlic, diced finely
1 large carrot, grated
2 stalks celery, diced
½ cup frozen peas
½ cup frozen corn
1 bag quorn mince (or the equivalent amount of minced meat)
1 can brown lentils
1 bottle of porter
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon thyme*
1 tablespoon rosemary*
1 tbsp cornflour, mixed to a paste in 1 tbsp cold water
Salt & pepper

*I just happened to have these herbs on hand. You could sub them out for others – sage, bay leaf, parsley. Again its up to what you like or what you have.

The Mash Mulch (based on the Homebrew Chef recipe):

450g potatoes
1 head of garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 sprigs thyme
Salt & pepper
½ cup butter
½ cup heavy cream
2-4 tablespoons IPA

Start by preparing the garlic for the mash. Preheat your oven to 150C.  Remove as much of the papery outside skin from the head of garlic as you can, then cut enough of the top of the head off in order to expose the tops of each clove.  Place it in the middle of a square of aluminium foil and drizzle olive oil over the top. Add a sprig of thyme and season with a little salt and pepper before wrapping up in a nice little parcel. Put on a baking tray and place in the oven for 25-30 minutes.

While the garlic is cooking, chop up your potatoes and place them in a pot, covered with cold water. Place on a high heat and bring to the boil. Cook until they are soft enough to pierce easily. Drain well and mash until smooth. (Or if you are fancy enough to have a ricer, put them through that.)

By now the garlic should be done (the original recipe says you know when it done, because the aroma will fill your entire house. It really does, and it is awesome!). Take it out of the oven, open the foil and allow to cool for five minutes.  Squeeze the cloves out of their skins and into a bowl, then mash with a fork until smooth.

In a small saucepan, place the butter, cream and 2 sprigs of thyme on to medium heat.  Bring to a boil, then turn down to low and simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove the thyme and add garlic paste and whisk to combine. Simmer another three to five minutes, then remove from the heat and add salt and pepper, and your IPA. Add the garlic cream to the mashed potatoes and fold in.  You might want to add half first, then check the flavour to see if it needs more garlic or IPA. I generally add the whole amount, but I like both garlic and hops.

Cultivating your pie:

Turn your oven to 180 degrees.

Slice and dice all of your vegetables. In a large saucepan, put 1 tablespoon of olive oil on low heat and sauté your onion and garlic until soft. Add the Quorn, breaking it up and cook until defrosted. Add the rest of the vegetables, stirring to combine, and cook for five or so minutes. (If you are using mince meat, add at the same time as you would add the quorn and cook well before adding the vegetables.)

Add the beer, Worcestershire sauce, herbs, tomato paste and bring to the boil. Turn down to a simmer for about 5 minutes, then add the cornflour paste and stir well. Allow to simmer until the sauce reduces and thickens nicely.

When the filling is ready, take your pie dish (or several small ones) and fill ¾. Top with the garlic IPA mash and ‘rake’ the surface with a fork. Some people might also put cheese on top, but considering the butter and cream in the mash, that could be considered overkill.

Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until the top has browned and filling is bubbling up around the edges.

You could serve with a green salad if you want even more veggies, or with some warm beer bread rolls if you'd like some extra carbs. As for beer, pair with something along the lines of a brown ale, or more porter - something dark, but not too serious.

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