“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
"Winter is dead.”
~AA Milne, when we were very young
Thursday, 23 September 2010
Oh I am soooo glad that the cooler weather is here! I do so NOT like heat and humidity! It just saps all my energy.
With autumn comes the opportunity to really get stuck in the kitchen and cook to my hearts content . . .
Lovely casseroles and heartier meals . . . enough of that salad stuff! Todd is not a salad man and he is glad to see the end of it too, really. Bring on the meat and potatoes!
We had company for dinner the other night and I wanted to make something hearty, and yet deliciously scrummy.
Something that was comforting and just a tad bit out of the ordinary . . . special, yet in an ordinary way, if you know what I mean.
Something that would have them thinking about it and drooling at the thoughts later on in the evening after they had gone home!
This tasty casserole fits the bill on all counts. Easy to make, but just that little bit different enough as to make it very special. If you like Shepherd's Pie and you like Macaroni and Cheese, you will love this!
Even my pasta hating husband had two servings, and that says a lot!!
*Macaroni Shepherd's Pie*
Shepherd's pie with the delicious twist of a layer of macaroni and cheese on top instead of the usual potatoes! Scrumdiddlyumptious!
For the meat layer:
2 TBS oil
3 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled, cut in half and then thinly sliced
into half moons
1 leek, washed well, trimmed, halved and then thinly sliced into half moons
2 sticks of celery, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
750g (about 1 1/2 pounds) of minced lamb
150ml of red wine (a generous half cup)
2 TBS tomato ketchup
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 lamb bouillion cube, crumbled
sea salt and black pepper to taste
For the macaroni topping:
35g (about 3 TBS) unsalted butter
30g of plain flour (about 3 TBS)
750 ml whole milk (3 cups)
1 bay leaf
120g of extra mature cheddar cheese, grated (1 1/2 cups)
1 TBS Dijon mustard
150g of macaroni (1 1/2 cups)
sea salt and black pepper to taste
1 slice of white bread, crusts removed and crumbed
2 TBS freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
1 TBS butter, melted
Heat the oil for the meat layer in a large saucepan. Add the vegetables and thyme, and cook over about 8 minutes over low heat, stirring from time to time, until glossy and beginning to soften. Add the lamb mince and increase the heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the meat changes colour and separates. Add the wine, ketchup, Worcestershire Sauce, crumbled bouillion cube and some salt pepper to taste. Simmer over a low heat for 15 to 20 miknutes. It should still be somewhat juicy. If it isn't add a bit of broth. Check the seasoning and adjust as needed. Spread into the bottom of a shallow oven proof lasagna dish. Set aside.
To make the cheese sauce for the macaroni topping, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for about a minute before slowly adding the milk and bay leaf. Bring to the boil whisking constantly, until it thickens. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and discard. Stir in the cheese and mustard, stirring until the cheese is completely melted. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Keep warm.
Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 5. Bring a pot of lightly salted water to the boil and cook the macaroni as per directions, leaving it very al dente, or slightly undercooked (it will cook more in the cheese sauce). Drain well and then stir it into the cheese sauce. Pour the whole mixture over top of the meat mixture in the baking dish.
Mix together the melted butter, bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle evenly over top of the macaroni. Bake the pie for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is golden brown and sizzling and the filling is bubbling. Let rest for about 10 minutes before serving. Delicious!