Stovetop Shepherd’s Pie

I’m supposed to be blogging about my recent trip to Dublin with my sister, but that will be a long and involved post and tonight felt more like a comfort night. To justify this post, however, I will be blogging about one of the biggest adjustments of living in Italy: I don’t have an oven.
Inspired by that trip to Dublin, Roz and I decided we wanted to make shepherd’s pie. It was one of the foods we’d wanted to get there, but we only had two nights and just ran out of opportunities. So, instead, we improvised. What follows is my recipe for stovetop shepherd’s pie.

Start by caramelizing an onion in butter, a little olive oil, salt, and a dash of beer.

Brown ground beef in a separate pan, drain off the grease, and add to the onion.

While the beef and onion start to simmer, peel and cut up potatoes and cook them in broth. I always use broth for mashed potatoes because otherwise they’re just too bland for me.

While the onion and beef are simmering, peel and cut some carrot and snap apart green beans. I personally hate cutting them because snapping is more fun. Pour more beer in as broth, and add a bouillon cube.

When potatoes are done cooking, mash them. I consider it no small feat that I managed to do this with a whisk (in addition to no oven, I have no potato masher.)

At this point in the shepherd’s pie process, you’d ordinarily pour the veggies and broth into a baking pan and top with mashed potatoes to put in the oven. Without an oven, I just added the potatoes to my stockpot. You have to be careful, though, that the broth doesn’t bubble up over the layer of potato, or it won’t form a good crust.

Let cook, covered, for about ten minutes. Then, spoon into dishes and serve warm. Yum!

And what to drink with this lovely dish, you may ask? Nothing but the best: a good Guinness goes a long way. Plus, they put a ping pong ball in the can so it foams like it would on draught. Perfect.

One of the things Rosalynd asked me, upon witnessing this experiment, was why I didn’t just get more stuff for my apartment. The answer, one that I’ve actually used a number of times, is that a lot of this feels too temporary. I can make due with just one sauté pan for now because if I bought a new one, I wouldn’t be able to take it with me anyway. In fact, I’m already freaking out about my luggage and trying to get me home, so it never made much sense to buy things. Plus, not having all the conveniences of my kitchen back home leads to fun meals like this one, so it’s all part of the adventure. Enjoy!


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