I don't know what the hell I'm supposed to call this. Most people would simply call it a play on shepherd's pie. But I, like any self respecting know-it-all, can't simply stand by and let that happen. You go out to most pubs and order shepherd's pie (like this one) and it's made with beef. That's a cottage pie dude. I'm no rube*. Shepherd's pie is made with lamb. I don't know any shepherds who herd cattle.** Although I do know a few sadistic cattle barons who brand sheep on opposite day.
That said, all the (self) righteous indignation in the world isn't gonna stop people from calling a cottage pie a shepherd's pie. So be it. I bet if I ask these guys, they'd say either is OK. And I trust them. ***
In any event, the shepherd's pie/cottage pie model is a great one for incorporating leftovers, on-hand stuff or minimal-effort ingredients into a new dish. It's kinda like a casserole. Think about it-- layer some shit together and heat it up. Sounds like a casserole. This dish is unique in that I've substituted grits for mashed potatoes. Which is, pardon my french, la merde putain. The stew is a leftover chili spiced beef stew with chickpeas. More of a quick jaunt than a departure from the usual meat filling of beef or lamb, carrots, peas & gravy. What you get is a cottage pie that evokes other dishes****, but is still clearly a cottage pie. And it works. The beauty of the cottage pie setup, just like blues music, lies in the simplicity of its structure-- a basic frame allowing for nearly endless variation within, but still identifiable by that frame.
I ate the hell out of this dish.
|dude, it was freezing in there|
cottage pie with grits
(serves, well just ask yourself how hungry you are)
what it'll take:
3/4-1 cup frozen ('course it doesn't have to be frozen) leftover beef stew of some sort. chili would work. i don't wanna condone using campbell's chunky, but im sure it'd work
1/2 tsp horseraddish
3tbsp quick grits
1/4 cup or so cheddar jack cheese
|ok, grits you get a caption too|
while you thaw out your stew (i had a mild chili based beef stew with tendor chunks of beef and chickpeas, some fresh poblano. went a little overboard on the chickpeas, as you may be able to see. but i like chickpeas, so thats cool) preheat oven to 400.
stir horseraddish into stew and add a little (tbsp or two) water or beef stock. it needs to look slightly too soupy. a lot of mousture is lost in the form of steam and you dont want it to dry out.
prepare the grits as for one serving on the label. 3 tbsp grits, 1 cup water. 4 minutes in the microwave.
beat in egg and stir in the cheese, reserving 1/3 to sprinkle on top. ladle on top of the stew.
|not campbell's. not at all|
top with remaining cheese and bake for about 35 minutes. top should be set, puffy and getting some color.
The stew part gets really hot, so after admiring that crust, crack that mother open a little and let some steam escape. I didn't add enough cheese on top--I wanted a browner crust. You could hit the top with olive oil spray to help with that. A sprinkling of rosemary in the stew would've been nice. A golden bidet that grants wishes would be nice too, but you can't have it all. All said, a really good dish, where trying something different with an established favorite doesn't frankenstein it up too bad.
*hayseed? maybe. greenhorn? sure. aficionado of fine youtube clips? absolutely. but not a rube.
**i dont know shepherds at all, although i did once say on live radio that i worked as a shepherd. i did not win the steely dan tickets btw.
***i trust them because their show is awesomely nerdy & that's just a trustworthy trait
****chili & cornbread comes immediately to mind
|get outta my dreams, get into my gullet|