For Lent: Hot and Spicy Lentil Soup

Whenever dad and I ventured into a Chinese restaurant, he would opt for either wonton or egg drop soup. As a young impressionable lad, I thought that’s all the soup choices that Chinese cuisine had to offer. Until one day when I spotted Hot and Sour soup. I gave it a try and I haven’t looked back. I have a taste for spicy food and it’s rare to find mouth burning flavors in a soup.

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Whenever Lent is approaching, I surf websites and YouTube looking for awesome meatless recipes. The problem is most meatless recipes that are considered “healthy” usually taste like bland cardboard. At first, I reluctantly tried a recipe for Spicy Lentil Soup and was pleasantly pleased. Since, my initial attempt, I have tweaked this one. Also remember this recipe during the year if you have a vegetarian guest.

Ingredients:

1/3 Cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 Medium onion*

2 Carrots*

2 Stalks of celery*

*The goal is 2 cups of mirepoix (1 Cup of onion, ½ cup of carrot, ½ cup of celery)

1 teaspoon Cumin

1 teaspoon of Curry powder (use ½ t of curry and hot madras curry for a spicier soup)

1/8 teaspoon of Cayenne

¼ teaspoon of Turmeric

1 teaspoon of Salt

Black Pepper to taste

1 Can of crushed tomatoes

4 Cups of Vegetable broth (try chicken broth outside of Lent)

2 Cups of water

½ Package of frozen chopped spinach

1 Cup of Lentils

Step 1: Check lentils for stones. I do this by spreading them on a sheet pan. Then rinse.

Step 2: Heat up the olive oil and start with the carrots. After two mins. Add the onion and celery. Remember to avoid high heat. You’re looking to soften the aromatics, not brown them.

Step 3: Add the spices for a minute to “wake them up.”

Step 4: Add the lentils, broth and water. Simmer until the lentils are tender.

Step 5: Add the tomatoes and spinach and keep simmering.

Step 6: When the tomatoes are cooked, your soup is done. But there’s one more thing to do.

Step 7: Remove 2 cups of bulk with a slotted spoon, blend smooth and replace. Your soup will now have a creamy consistency.

Step 8: Enjoy! Mangia! I prefer a tablespoon of chopped jalapeños on top for some extra kick.

During Lent, there’s still something of a chill in the air, especially in the evening. Whether you feel obligated to remain meatless on Friday’s during Lent, all year long, or simply desire a healthy alternative, get ready to enjoy this easy recipe. Let me know if you plan on rattling some pots and pans with this one.

If you attempt this recipe with an InstantPot…let me know how you did it.

Don’t Go – Comment Below!

Arroz Con Pollo (Castilian Chicken with Rice)

There are many versions of this delight from Spain. Almost every different culture in Latin America and the Caribbean has their own version of Arroz Con Pollo. However, this is the one I discovered while studying abroad in Madrid, which would be the original version from which all others are derived. Even the cooking Bible of culinary art Larousse Gastronomique refers to this dish as Castilian Chicken.

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Please note that although the Arroz Con Pollo in Spain will use different cuts of chicken that I use. Why? Because I’m completely grossed out by eating meat with bones in it.

And So It Begins

Start by steeping the flavorful spices in the broth. You don’t boil this mixture. Put it on your lowest setting in an uncovered pot for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

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3 ½ Cups of Chicken Broth

1 Teaspoon of Saffron threads*

1 ½ Teaspoons of Chicken Bouillon Powder

½ Teaspoon of Turmeric

*I usually do not measure this ingredient. I buy the McCormick Saffron threads and use half. Therefore, I get to make this dish twice from one bottle. Prices vary drastically. I’ve seen it at Walmart for $17.69 while the base commissary has the exact product for $9.49.

Next You’ll Need to Prepare the Flour for Dredging the Chicken

2 large boneless and skinned chicken breasts (cut each breast into 3 pieces)

1 cup of flour

1 ½ Tablespoons of Paprika

1 Teaspoon of salt

½ Teaspoon black pepper

Dredge the chicken pieces and shake off excess.

Get Those Veggies Prepped

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1 Large White Onion (Medium Dice…the link will show you how to properly dice an onion)

1 Small Diced Red Bell Pepper

1 Small Diced Green Bell Pepper

1 4 oz. Jar of Pimiento (Drained)

*Option…1 Cup of Green Olives with Pimiento

 

Don’t Forget the Chorizo Sausage

6 Goya Spanish Chorizo Sausages (Skinned and sliced ¼ inch thick)

There are many incarnations of the Chorizo, like Mexican and Basque versions. However, the type made by Goya is the one that fits the bill. These match what I had in Spain and in the better Spanish restaurants in New York City.

Other ingredients

¼ Cup of Olive Oil

A splash of White Wine

2 Cups of Uncooked Rice

As for Cookware

This type of cooking is made for Le Creuset enameled cast iron. Yes, there are cheaper alternatives. I’ve seen them in Walmart and Bed Bath and Beyond. Although I’ve never used other brands, I swear by the quality of Le Creuset. My mom has some for over forty-years.

The Next Phase

Start by placing the chorizo slices in a large pot (preferably like the one named above). Remember when it comes to any type of sausage, low and slow is the way to go.

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Once the chorizo has some color on them, remove and reserve. As you can see, the chorizo has rendered beautiful red-orange colored drippings.

Put the olive oil and fry the chicken pieces. You don’t have to cook them all the way through. You want some golden brown color. Remove and reserve with the chorizo.

Next add the veggies to the oil. After they become a bit soft you can sweat them.

You don’t have to remove the onion and peppers. Now toss in that splash of White Wine and deglaze. Just simply add the rice to the pot and get the rice coated in the oil and cooked a bit. Then add that broth that has been steeping for a while.

Add the cooked and chorizo back into the pot and cover. Treat it as if you are making plain rice. When it starts boiling, lower the temperature to the lowest setting for 20-25 minutes.

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Uncover and add the pimiento and olives (remember the olives are optional). Residual heat will warm those last two ingredients. Mix them in and serve.

I hope you try this one. Let me how it came out!

 

 

Every Time You Reply – Little Frankie Doesn’t Cry

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Sauerbraten

A Sauerbraten (German Pot Roast) dinner makes one think about a grandma toiling away in the kitchen from the early morning hours until evening. Remember those days? When cooking was done in pots and delectable delights cooked slowly for hours. If you’re going to make a Sauerbraten, then get ready for a meal that takes three days to prepare. Of course, your patience and palette will be richly rewarded by German specialty.

Sauerbraten for a 3 – 3 ½ pound rump roast.

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2 Onions

1 Cup Red Wine Vinegar

1 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar

1 Tablespoon Salt

½ Tablespoon Black Pepper

1 Tablespoon Ground Mustard

1 Tablespoon of Sugar

12 Whole Cloves

2 Bay Leaves

12 Juniper Berries*

3 – 4 ounces of crushed ginger snaps** (Final ingredient for sauce. NOT part of the marinade)

*I couldn’t get any juniper berries this time around. I’ve made Sauerbraten with and without them. Skipping the berries will not destroy the Sauerbraten and make it inedible. You’ll be fine.

**Find dark gourmet ginger snaps, those blonde ones won’t cut it.

Step 1: Dice the onions, combine all of the marinade ingredients and bring to a boil. Then remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Step2: Get a frying pan (preferably cast iron) fired up. Rub the rump roast down with 2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil. Next, sear the roast for two to three minutes on every surface. Remember, color equals flavor.

Step 3: When the meat and the marinade have cooled, put both into a glass bowl and cover. Avoid aluminum foil or bowls. The acid in the vinegar will react with aluminum and other metals, because the combination of the two is a battery.

Marinate the Sauerbraten for three days. If the marinade covers the meat then just leave it alone. If not, then turn the roast every day or every twelve hours.

Step 4: Place the meat and marinade into a covered vessel. I use enameled cast iron by Le Creuset. It is perfect for this type of cooking. Cook at 325° for 4 hours.

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A Le Creuset Dutch Oven

Step 5: Remove Sauerbraten roast. Place it on a cooling rack. Use a wire mesh strainer and filter all of the liquid into a sauce pan. Add 3 oz. of crushed Ginger snaps. If your sauce isn’t thick enough, then continue adding ½ oz. increments.

Step 6: Eat! Mangia! I really enjoy a sweet white zinfandel to offset the sour part of Sauerbraten. However, there’s nothing wrong with a high quality “brewskie” either.

I served this Sauerbraten up with spaetzl (German pasta) boiled, then sautéed in butter and cream, Rotkohl (sweet n’ sour red cabbage), and Kartoffelklöesse (Potato Dumplings).

If you make this Sauerbraten recipe or are planning an honest attempt, I’d love to hear from you.

DON’T GO – COMMENT BELOW!

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Buttermilk Blueberry Pancakes

Does anyone ever scoff at the idea of a Buttermilk Blueberry Pancake? Well, I’ve never met a person who resisted such a mouthwatering temptation. In fact, I do not think any other food can top these flat bundles of joy when it comes down to a comfort food contest. Let’s face it, if Buttermilk Blueberry Pancakes with maple syrup and softened butter are on the menu, you do not need anything else, except for a properly brewed cup of coffee to wash them down.

*Please note that I generally abhor manufactured food. Also, I am not working in an industrial kitchen with all sorts of expensive specialized equipment. Even my photo equipment could use a few upgrades. Therefore, you can easily replicate any of my recipes in order to cook from scratch.

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Ingredients

2 Cups of All Purpose Flour

2 teaspoons of Baking Powder

1 teaspoon of Baking Soda

½ teaspoon Salt

3 Tablespoons of Sugar

2 Eggs

2 Cups of Buttermilk + 1 Cup of Milk

4 Tablespoons of melted butter

Frozen or Fresh Blueberries (I use 4 blueberries per pancake) * Do not place in batter.

*** Yield 10 Buttermilk Blueberry Pancakes *** I used a standard ladle to deliver the batter.

Notice: the first 5 items are dry and the rest are wet.

Combine your wet and dry ingredients in separate bowls, and then add the wet mixture to the dry. Yeppers, it’s just that easy. And think about the money you’re saving and the health benefits. When you cook in this fashion, you know what’s in your food.

Things to remember: 1) beat the eggs before combining, 2) shake your buttermilk, 3) do not over mix. I know many pancake aficionados out there swear by blending the batter with a fork. However, I find that forks do not scrape in flour that lingers in a bowl. It’s just easier and more efficient to fold with a spatula. Just remember not over mix. Simply fold until the flour disappears. Lumps and clumps are good things in a pancake batter. 4) If you’re using frozen blueberries. Place some in a sealable plastic bag and soak in warm water. Then start working on the batter. The blueberries will be thawed by the time you’re ready to use them.

Get your favorite pan or griddle ready and preheat your oven to 180 degrees. Lightly grease your pan with some butter wiped on with a paper towel. Put some batter in the pan and let them cook on one side. Drop some blueberries on top before flipping.

Place cooked Buttermilk Blueberry Pancakes on a plate and keep in the oven while you finish off the rest. Not only are these jewels a tasty experience, but also a very satisfying cooking experience.

Are you going to try out this recipe? How did they turn out for you?

Pasta e Fagioli (Italian Pasta & Bean Soup)

For me, nothing answers the call of comfort food better than a hot bowl of Pasta e Fagioli. The rich stock, tasty bites of beans and pasta, makes this soup hearty. Of course, like an authentic tomato sauce, there are many variations of this staple of the Italian kitchen. Therefore, you’ll find different recipes in every household.

I like to add small chunks of Genoa salami. After all, pork and beans go well together. Perhaps at a later date, I’ll ask mom for her “lighter” white bean recipe.

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There’s nothing like comfort food

 

Ingredients

1 – Small White Onion (Do a medium dice according to Onions 101)

2 – Teaspoons of Chopped Garlic

1 – Can of Red Kidney Beans (Reserve half of the liquid)

1 – Quarter inch thick slice of Genoa Salami (Go for two slices if you prefer an even heartier soup)

1 – Pinch of Sugar

1 – Beef Stock or Broth (Yes, I said stock not buillion)

2 – Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 – Ounces of White Wine (I prefer White Zinfandel)

8 – Ounces of Tomato Sauce or Plain Crushed Tomatoes

8 – Ounces of your favorite dried pasta (Elbows, Ditalini, Tubetini, or Small Shells)

Salt* & Pepper to taste

*The amount of salt depends on the brand of cooking stock and if it’s a low or non-sodium version.

Step 1: Dice the onion and cut the salami into small bite sized cubes

Step 2: Put the olive oil into a soup pot and heat

Step 3: Sauteé the onions until tender and limp, but not browned.

Step 4: Add the garlic (Remember garlic cooks very fast) Cook for 1 minute

Step 5: Add the wine (Let the alcohol cook out 1-2 mins.)

Step 6: Add the tomato sauce, beef stock, salami, and Kidney beans with reserved liquid

Step 7: Add one pinch of sugar*. Let simmer to allow flavors to mingle

*The nitrates in cured pork products can leave a nasty aftertaste. The sugar will cancel it out.

Step 8: In a separate pot, bring enough water to boil in order to cook the pasta according to box directions. You shouldn’t cook or store the soup and pasta together.

Step 9: Put one half ladle of cooked pasta into a bowl and add two ladles of the soup. Serve with a piece of crusty Italian bread for a hearty meal.

Step 10: Enjoy it! Mangia Bene!

Comment below if you attempt or plan on attempting this recipe.

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Ernesto San Giacomo is the author of Ragged Souls

***Put Ragged Souls on your Kindle at Amazon U.S. or Amazon U.K.***

Fettuccine Alfredo

There are many myths that circulate throughout the culinary world, most of them concerning the origins of famous dishes.  However, the raw beginnings of Fettuccine Alfredo are rather well-known and accepted.

As the story goes, Alfredo first made the dish for his wife, who suffered from terrible nausea during a pregnancy (it is an old Italian custom to “eat white” when you don’t feel well). Further down the road in 1920, he made it for Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. They were so impressed that they presented Alfredo with a gift before they left Rome. Soon the newspapers caught on and ran the story, thus cementing Alfredo’s restaurant and the entrée that bears his name to the world.

I like to order Fettuccine Alfredo whenever I’m trying out a new restaurant. It’s such a simple dish, that if you ruin it, maybe you should get out of the food business. Too often I’ve seen this dish destroyed by either complicating it with extra ingredients, or by foolishly misunderstanding it and using the wrong preparation method. I especially cringe whenever I see jarred “Alfredo Sauce” in the supermarket. Once you read this recipe and its true technique, you’ll realize that there is no such thing as Alfredo Sauce.


Alert to other Men in the kitchen: Your darling femalien may not appreciate this load of carbohydrates. But it is Fettuccine Alfredo, so… to hell with counting calories. Make a fancy dancy salad tomorrow. 🙂


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Ingredients:

1 16oz. box of your favorite fettuccine (regular or spinach or mixed)

1 cup of heavy cream or milk or half n’ half * (your choice will impact the cooking time of the pasta)

*If your pasta cooks in 8 minutes, then remove after 7 minutes if you’re using heavy cream, 6 for half n’ half, and so on.

2 tablespoons of room-temperature butter

2 tablespoons of grated cheese

Cooking:

While the water for your pasta is heating, heat the butter and cream mixture in a skillet. Don’t boil it, just get it above room temperature.

Drop your pasta into salted boiling water. Usually dried pasta takes 6 – 8 minutes to cook, but we’re going to remove it early. The pasta will be somewhat flexible but too hard to eat, but that’s exactly where we want it at this point.

Place the pasta into the skillet with the butter and milk and turn up the heat one notch. The pasta will finish cooking by absorbing the water content from the milk / butter mixture. This also thickens the sauce. Just remember to keep flipping and tossing the pasta about twice per minute.

Plate it and sprinkle your favorite grated cheese on top.

Buon Apetito!

I hope now you see why you can’t get Alfredo sauce in a jar. It takes dried pasta to create it. That icky stuff in the jar is usually made (and I’ve seen restaurants do this as well) with a butter and flour roux as a thickener. That pasty flour taste just does not belong in there.

Another major error I’ve seen is the use of garlic. Some chefs mistakenly think that tossing garlic into a recipe makes it more authentically Italian. Wrong! There’s no place for garlic in a butter and cream sauce.

Are you ever going to use “Alfredo Sauce” from a jar again?

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Click the pic and go straight to this Amazon listing

 

Welsh Rarebit

There are special recipes to consider now that the fall and winter seasons are coming upon us. One of those recipes is Welsh Rarebit. I love English “Pub Grub” comfort foods and a well prepared Welsh Rarebit soothes and relaxes like few others dishes can do, especially on a cold day.


O.K. Men! This may not be a romantic nosh, but once in a while you have to treat yourself.



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Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons of Room Temperature Butter

2 Tablespoons of All Purpose flour

1 Teaspoon of Mustard (use your favorite spicy brown, Dijon, whatever)

1 Teaspoon of Worcestershire Sauce

½ Teaspoon each of Salt and Pepper

½ Cup of Dark Beer (Aficionados of this dish love to use a porter, but I prefer Shiner Bock)

¾ Heavy Cream or Half n’ Half

6 Oz. Shredded Cheddar Cheese (do not use aged cheese)

8 Slices of bread (I prefer seedless rye)

Step 1:  In a 2 quart pot, melt the butter and stir in the flour to make a roux. Let the roux cook for at least 1 – 2 minutes. Remember, you can’t put cold butter into a hot pan. It will turn brown and nasty in seconds. It’s better to use room temperature butter and melt it over medium heat.

Step 2: Add the beer. The beer will cool off the pot, which will allow you to add the cream without shocking it. Go ahead and add the cream and all other ingredients except the cheese

Step 3: When the mixture has heated (not boiling) you can add the cheese and stir. The cheese will melt and absorb the liquid creating a silky smooth cheese sauce. If you let this mixture boil (or used aged cheddar) the sauce will be gritty instead of smooth and creamy.

This is also a good time to toast your bread.

Step 4: Move an oven rack to the highest position and turn on your broiler. Spoon the cheese sauce over each toasted slice. I like to put my slices of bread on a cookie sheet. Watch as the cheese starts to bubble and create a brown crust. It can go from golden brown goodness to black burnt yuck very quickly. Have your oven mitts ready to remove the cookie sheet instantly.

Step 5: Eat and enjoy. It washes down especially well with the same beer that you used to make the sauce.

I could not get my hands on a bakery quality loaf of seedless rye bread and had to opt for a country white loaf as evidenced by the photo. It was still quite yummy, and so was the beer.

Is your recipe different? Let me know how this came out.

Pasta Carbonara

This is the dish that can make chefs scream at each other. The original recipe has come a long way and has gone through many adaptations in different regions in Italy and since crossing the Atlantic, gracing the menus of Italian restaurants and trattorias in America. I can hear some of the purists already glaring at me on account of ham and bacon. Ahem, just try finding Guanciale.

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1 lb. of pasta (use a long pasta that needs to be twirled)

½ – 1 cup of grated parmigiana cheese (the amount of cheese depends on your taste)

4 eggs (room temperature)

½ onion, finely chopped (most recipes don’t call for onion, but I love it)

1 tablespoon of garlic

¼ pound of ham* (optional)

10 slices of thick-cut bacon**

A handful of frozen peas (optional)

3 tablespoons of heavy cream or half-and-half (optional)

 

*I buy a quarter pound of ham at the deli counter and ask for it as one thick slice.

** Guanciale, pancetta, or bacon? Use whatever pleases you or what is available. If you’re using bacon from the supermarket, make sure it’s plain bacon. Don’t use anything like Apple Hickory smoked or other flavorings.

Step 1: Bring the water to a boil and add the pasta and salt as per the box directions.

Step 2: While the water is waiting to boil, cook your bacon and drain on a paper towel. Retain 3 tablespoons of the drippings.  Dice the bacon.

Step 3: Cook the onions in the bacon drippings. Add the ham, garlic, bacon and peas to the pan after the onions are cooked.

Step 4: Beat the eggs and add the cheese and cream. You can also temper the eggs with 4 tablespoons of the pasta water.

Step 5: Drain pasta. Add it to the skillet and toss for a minute. Remove from heat, add the egg mixture a little at a time, and keep tossing the pasta.

Removing the pan from the heat is critical. You don’t want the egg to scramble. This can also happen if you add all of the egg mixture at once.

Step 6: There is no step 6. Bring that pasta to the table and eat it while it’s hot. Enjoy!

Cream of Tomato Soup With Mushroom Sandwiches

One of the fringe benefits of having an Italian ancestry is never developing a taste for instant food. A side benefit of being an Indie Author is to be able to write about the wonders of the Italian kitchen.

This tomato soup recipe pairs wonderfully with a mushroom and fontina cheese sandwich.

Ingredients for the soup

10 plum or 5 beefsteak tomatoes

2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

1 large onion

1 carrot

3 Cups chicken or vegetable stock (never beef)

1 Tablespoon fresh thyme*

1 cup of cream

Salt & Pepper to taste

* Dried thyme is potent so be careful if you substitute. Just add a pinch and adjust as necessary.

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Step 1: Quarter the tomatoes and remove the seeds. Toss the tomatoes in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place in a 325 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.

Step 2: Heat the 3 Tablespoons of olive oil in your soup pot and cook the carrot and onion.

Step 3: When the onion and carrot are soft (not browned), add the stock and thyme.

Step 4: Add the roasted tomatoes, and any other juices into soup pot. Let the flavors mingle for a minute or two, then blend (use a blender, food processor, or immersion blender) to a fine consistency.

*Steps 1-4 can be done ahead of time.

Step 5: Bring the soup back to a simmer. Remove from heat and add the cream. Return to heat to keep warm until serving

This should yield 4 crocs of soup.

Ingredients for the Mushroom and Fontina Sandwiches

2 Tablespoons of olive oil

1 Pat of butter

2 Tablespoons of melted butter

½ pound of mushrooms

1 teaspoon of sage

Sliced bread

½ cup grated fontina cheese

Salt & Pepper to taste

Step 1: Slice the mushrooms* and sautée in the olive oil, pat of butter, sage, and salt and pepper until brown.

Step 2: Brush the bread olive oil and melted butter and toast in a dry pan. Remove and brush the untoasted side.

Step 3: Build the sandwich with the mushrooms and grated fontina cheese. Place the sandwiches into the dry pan to toast the outside and melt the cheese in the same process. You can press the sandwiches a bit with a metal spatula

*Remember to either rinse or clean the mushrooms with a tea towel.

Final Step: Buon Apetitto!

Got My Eye on a Cottage Pie

Pining for a cozy cottage with a warm fire in the English countryside? I don’t have one either, but this recipe helps me dream about it.

 

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Ingredients for the meat filling:

1 cup of small diced onion

½ cup of carrot (peel, chop, two or three pulses in a food processor)

½ cup of celery (peel, chop, two or three pulses in a food processor)

1 pound of ground beef or lamb (or a combo of both)

3 tablespoons of oil (I prefer olive oil…feel free to use your favorite)

2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon of salt

½ teaspoon of black pepper

1 teaspoon of tomato paste

1 cup of beef stock (use chicken or vegetable if preferred)

½ teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce

½ teaspoon of Jugo or Bovril (beef flavor booster)

Cheddar cheese (optional – as much as you want)

Ingredients for the Mashed Potatoes:

1 ½ pound of russet potatoes

¼ cup of heavy cream, Half n’ Half, or milk

½ teaspoon of salt

¼ teaspoon of white pepper

2 tablespoons of butter

Step 1. Heat the oil in a large skillet or a large cast iron frying pan (the best). Put the carrot in first because it takes longer to cook.  After 3 minutes, add the onion and celery, and cook until the onions start to look soft and translucent.

Step 2. Start heating a second large skillet OR transfer the vegetables to a soup bowl.

Place the beef or lamb into the hot skillet and let it cook. It’s best to leave meat alone for 2-3 minutes before turning or moving it around. You want to get some color on it. If you have large clumps of meat, break it up. Once the meat is cooked, add the veggies back into the skillet.

Mix the meat and veggies together and then sprinkle in the flour. Mix and leave it for at least one minute.  The flour has to toast or else the finished pie will have a pasty raw dough taste.

Step 3. Add in the rest of the ingredients (except the cheese), bring to a boil and simmer for at least 10-15 minutes.

Step 4. Peel and quarter the potatoes and bring to a boil until fork tender.

Step 5. Bring the butter and cream to room temperature (microwave if needed).

Step 6. Drain potatoes and mash (I use a ricer).

Step 7. Add the butter, cream, salt, and pepper to the potatoes and beat with a hand mixer.

 

Putting it All Together:

I prefer to make individual servings. Spoon the meat mixture into a single-serving croc until its half-full. Then place the mashed potatoes on top.  Don’t press the potato into the meat mixture; you want it to float on top, creating two distinct layers. Use a rubber spatula to create a potato seal around the edges.

If you’re ready to eat right away, preheat your oven to 325 and place the crocs on the middle rack for 20 minutes. If you’re going to use the cheddar cheese, place it on top of each croc for the last 5 minutes of baking.  If you’re not hungry yet, the crocs can go into the fridge instead, ready to be heated up whenever you like.

Yield: 4 servings