Sunday, May 8, 2011

Steak and Kidney Shepherd's Pie (and soda update)

I'm really not too good at this whole housewifey meal-planning thing, and I most often end up around 10:00am, staring at the various frozen cuts of meat in the freezer, trying to figure out what in the world I'm going to do with them. The crock pot is my best friend - I can toss in some frozen stock, and a half hour later a frozen roast, and have dinner at dinnertime. Sometimes I'll even get ambitious and take the meat out once it's thawed a bit and chop it up into smaller pieces for stew or something.

Combine this with the fact that we tend to order fractions of (local, ethically raised) cows/pigs/etc., because it's cheaper that way. Possibly not quite as cheap as whatever is on clearance at conventional stores, but way cheaper than full price at conventional stores. When you do this, you end up with a whole bunch of really nice cuts of meat, and I'm never quite sure what I should do with those (also, I'm totally uneducated about cuts of meat, and have only the vaguest idea what is normally an expensive cut and what isn't).

Anyways, this led to me staring into the freezer yesterday, trying to figure what to do with a bunch of frozen steak. I noticed a kidney that's been sitting at the bottom of the freezer for months because I'm a bit leery of it, and "steak and kidney pie" popped into my head.

I've never had it, but whatever. It's a legitimate use of steak and kidney! Except we have nothing in the house to make a reasonable paleo crust, so it's going to be steak and kidney stew.

I tossed them in the crock pot on high, along with some meat-cooking juice that's been floating in and out of the freezer for ages (with cooking in between). It had some carrots in it.

After the meat defrosted a bit, I chopped it up into small chunks (forgoing the opportunity to teach about kidney anatomy because I couldn't remember enough of it off the top of my head and the baby was fussing. And because I didn't want to be all "Here, this organ makes pee. Eat it!"), fried them up a bit with some salt and pepper, then tossed them back in the crock pot on low. I chopped up an onion, fried that, and tossed it in as well, along with several shakes (let's call it 2 tablespoons) of Worcestershire sauce.

It cooked for a while, and I decided it needed something to help absorb the liquid. Something potato-y, without actually being potatoes. I asked LemurDa, who was out, to get some cauliflower or root veggies or something. He got turnips.

By the time he got home with the veggies, it was too late for them to have time to cook in the crock pot, so I decided to try a mash, and make it into Shepherd's pie.

I chopped these up, stuck them in a pot with some salted water, heated it to a boil, and cooked them until they were tender (this only took a few minutes), then pureed them in the food processor with several cloves of garlic and about 2 tablespoons of clarified butter.

It came out pretty much like mashed potatoes. I was impressed.

I preheated the oven to 400F, and used a slotted spooned to transfer the meat and carrots out of the crock pot and into an ovenproof dish, leaving most of the liquid (which got stuck back in the freezer for a future occasion), then spread the faux-potatoes over the top and sprinkled it with a bit of pepper. When the oven was preheated, I stuck it in there for 20 minutes.

It turned out pretty good. LemurGirl ate most of it. LemurBoy thought it smelled funny (I'm not really going to disagree with him on that one) and refused to do more than a requisite taste. Everyone else seemed to like it ok. I wasn't all that crazy about the kidney flavor, but it wasn't inedible.

The turnip mash had a slight bitter taste. I want to try it with cauliflower and see if it comes out even more like potatoes, but I think it fooled the kids.

I'm going to have to try Shepherd's Pie again with ground beef. LB is meatloaf crazy, and I'm sure would love it that way.

We have bubbles in the root beer! I'm going to guess it needs another day or two, but something is happening, at least.

The sun tea really needs to ferment up a bit. It's sickly sweet and tastes much like a Ricola cough drop.

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