Monday, May 2, 2011

Pub Crawl : My Version

One of my favorite cooking show is Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello. One problem I have with this show though is that it seems to cater to those with unlimited budget. Watching Michael cook, the extra virgin olive oil seems to flow like water from the tap and every fancy ingredient seems to grow from his backyard ready for the picking. The show is shot I believe at Michael Chiarello's vineyard at the Napa Valley. So if you are a cook on a budget, some of his recipes might set you back on a no food diet for a couple of weeks.

One episode from the show that I drew inspiration from (in other words, affordable) was the Pub Crawl episode. On it, he made a version of shepherd's pie and a beer flavored onion soup accompanied by a beer-based cocktail named Snake Bite for their drink. Since I'm off alcohol at the moment, the Snake Bite has to bite the dust, no pun intended. Both the pie and the soup are definitely worth trying though. 

Copyright 2011 LtDan'sKitchen Blogs
I have made shepherd's pie before and it was not a pleasant experience. I made way too much filling and crammed all of it in my baking dish that it overflowed while baking. This caused the oil from the sauce to smoke which set off my smoke alarm and I had to do a thorough cleaning of my oven before I could bake on it again. For all that trouble, the result was a so-so flavored pie that I had to eat for the whole week. I was never so eager for something in my fridge to go away as quickly as possible. It has been years since my kitchen disaster so I thought I'd have another go at it after watching this episode for the second time. This time though, I used Michael's version with a bit of a tweak, as always. The result was quite good and I have the seal of approval from a friend who was not too fond of shepherd's pie. I may not have made a convert out of her but she certainly finished off her plate which was compliment enough for me. 

The soup was a total surprise to me though. I love onions but I always thought having a soup with just onions was a bit of an overkill. Once you try it though, you realize that it all makes sense. Use the crustiest bread you can find as it lends flavor to the soup once it has soaked up the liquid. Another crucial ingredient is the cheese. Gruyere was the traditional choice but the recipe called for Irish Cheddar cheese. Since I could not find Irish Cheddar cheese here in Bozeman, I settled for a mild Cheddar variety. I also used red wine vinegar as I totally forgot that I had a bottle of sherry in my cupboard. White wine I think will do equally well if you can't find sherry vinegar. I actually had to readjust the flavor by adding a bit of white sugar to balance the acidity of the vinegar. 

*Shepherds Pie with Scallion-Cheese Crust - Adapted


2 tablespoon olive oil
1 lbs ground lamb
3 lbs diced beef
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped very small
1 lb cremini mushrooms
2 level tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 tsp ground cinnamon 
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup red wine
3 cups beef stock
salt and black pepper to taste


4 lbs potatoes
4 tbsp butter
salt and black pepper
1 cup scallions, cleaned and chopped
1 cup cheddar, coarsely grated

1. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or deep  
   saute pan. Add the onions to the pan and saute until the onions are  
   tinged brown at the edges, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the beef and season with salt and pepper. Brown the meat and  
    be patient. You may have to do this in batches. Alternatively, you  
    can brown the beef prior to sauteing the onions.

3. Add thyme, parsley and cinnamon. Stir and saute for 2 minutes. Next, 
    stir in the flour, which will soak up the juice, then stir in the wine
    and the beef stock. Taste and add salt and pepper, as needed.

4. Cover, turn down the heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes

5. In another pan, brown the lamb at medium high heat. Once browned, 
    add the lamb to the beef that has been simmering for 30 minutes  
    together with the mushroom and the carrots. Add the tomato paste. 

6. Simmer for another 30 minutes or until the beef is fully cooked.  
    Check for flavor and adjust accordingly. Keep warm.  

7. Peel the potatoes, cut them into large even-sized pieces and place  
    into a pot of cold, salted water. Bring the water to a boil and cook
    potatoes until they are tender, about 10 minutes. When the potatoes  
    are done, drain off the water, return them to the saucepan, cover  
    with a clean tea cloth to absorb the steam and leave them for about  
    5 minutes. Next, with a ricer, mash the potatoes. Add the butter and     season with salt and pepper.

8. In a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, spoon the meat stew and level it out  
    with the back of the spoon. After that, spread the mashed potato  
    evenly all over. Sprinkle the scallions on top of the potato, scatter the     cheese over the scallions. 

9. In a preheated oven, bake the pie at 400°F until the top is crusty and  
    golden, about 25 minutes.

*Killian's Red Onion Soup with Cheddar Crouton - Adapted 

Copyright 2011 LtDan'sKitchen Blogs
2 tablespoons extra-virgin    olive oil
5 cloves minced garlic 
8 cups thinly sliced onions
Gray salt
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves,    chopped
1/4 cup sherry vinegar (I    used red wine vinegar)
1 1/2 cups dark beer (I    used Killian's Red)
6 cups beef stock 
6 slices country bread cut 1/2-inch thick, toasted
1/2 lb Cheddar cheese, grated

1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the garlic and  
    cook briefly to release aroma. Add the onions and season with salt  
    and cook for about 5 minutes stirring often. Reduce heat to low and  
    cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onions are     golden brown.

2. Add the thyme, vinegar, and beer. Reduce beer by half and add the  
    beef stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 more minutes.

3. To serve, preheat the broiler. Transfer the soup to an ovenproof  
    serving dish or individual ovenproof soup bowls. Top with toasted  
    bread slices and sliced Cheddar. Broil until cheese melts and starts to     brown slightly. Serve piping hot.

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