Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, January 16, 2015

Kay's Cooking Corner

Crock-pot Shepherd’s Pie

Well, the time has come – it’s moving week. By this time Saturday, we’ll be in our new home. We had a difficult time finding the right size home for our family, but I think we’ve landed on the right one. And although it’s taken time, and agony, we don’t consider it wasted, but a blessing.

Our first home was too large for us to manage after the kids had moved out, so we decided to downsize; however, we went a little too far down, and after a year of living in our present house, decided we needed to up-size. This sounds like a mistake, but it really isn’t.

Let me explain. The new house we found is about five houses down from where we live now, and the good thing is the house we’re in now is the perfect size for my mother, so she’s moving into it. This works really well for me because I’ll be just a few houses down once she gets older and needs more attention.

This is why I say there was no time wasted; it was more just a process we were going through for future settlements that we didn’t realize was happening! One good thing is that when you live in a place for only a year, you don’t have a lot of cleaning up and throwing out to do when you start to move again! I applaud military families who are always on the move. I also pray for them! There’s nothing easy about moving.

One of the most difficult things for me when I move is deciding how to set up the kitchen so it flows easily. You know: where will the best spot for the coffee pot be, where should I put the cups, plates, etc., so when I’m emptying out the dishwasher it will be easily accessible?

By the way, in the new house, the dishwasher is the furthest appliance away from the cabinets. Yeah, it’s kind of crazy; however, changing plumbing lines and cabinetry in a home on a concrete foundation? Well, I’ll just have to have a little inconvenience. But it’s no biggie – the kitchen isn’t that big to begin with, it’s just that I wonder why the builder didn’t put the dishwasher on the side of the sink, closest to the cabinets. On the other side of the sink is the trash compactor. Seems like reversing those should have been a no-brainer.

Anyway, that’s what I’m doing this week. Packing up kitchen items and moving them down to the new house, and trying to get a few things adjusted there so that when our furniture gets in, we can resume life without much of a hiccup. Although, that’s laughable, huh?

However, I know we’ll get this move done, and before long, everything will be settled down, and we’ll live happily ever after in the right size home! No, that’s not a fairy tale ending –it’s the ending I’m going to have!

So after having packed up and moved almost everything in my kitchen, you’re probably wondering what I’m cooking for our dinners. Well, I have my trusty crock-pot. Last night, we had a roast, and tonight, we’ll have leftover roast.

However, I do have a crock-pot recipe I’m going to try later this week that I thought I’d share. I found it on the Williams and Sonoma recipe website. It looks yummy, and perfect for cold-weather nights and a worn-out wife!

Enjoy, and have a good week!

Crock-pot Shepherd’s Pie

5 tbs. olive oil

5 lbs. boneless beef chuck cut into one-inch cubes

1 lb. button mushrooms, quartered if large

1 yellow onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

5 tbs. all-purpose flour

1/2 cup Guinness or other stout beer

1 cup beef broth

1/4 cup mushroom demi-glace

1 bouquet garni

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 bag (14 oz.) frozen pearl onions, thawed

1 1/4 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into one-inch pieces

1 cup fresh or thawed frozen peas

6 cups mashed potatoes

1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

In the stovetop-safe insert of a slow cooker over medium-high heat, warm two tablespoons of the olive oil. Working in batches, sear the beef until browned on all sides, four to six minutes per batch. Transfer to a platter.

Warm two tablespoons of the olive oil in the insert. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and tender, six to eight minutes. Transfer to the platter.

Warm the teaspoon of olive oil in the insert. Add the yellow onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, six to eight minutes. Add the garlic and flour and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about one minute. Slowly whisk in the beer, broth, and demi-glace, and bring to a simmer. Add the bouquet garni, salt, pepper, beef, mushrooms, and pearl onions.

Place the insert on the slow-cooker base, cover, and cook on high for two hours. Add the carrots, cover and cook for two more hours. Stir in the peas.

Preheat a broiler. Spread the mashed potatoes over the beef mixture, forming a one-inch layer, and sprinkle with the cheese. Transfer the insert to the broiler and broil until the cheese is melted and starting to brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving. Serves 12.

Kay Bona is a staff writer for the Hamilton County Herald and an award-winning columnist and photographer. Contact her at kay@dailydata.com.