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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sausage Shepard's Pie

Shepard's Pie is good stuff. So I was interested to see what would happen when you change up the layers a little bit. This recipe, instead of ground meat, calls for sausage. And instead of corn and carrots, the vegetable is cabbage. Since Shepard's Pie gets a thumbs up, sausage and cabbage get a thumb's up, and mashed potatoes always get a thumb's up, this just sounded like a winner.

Sausage Shepard's Pie

8 baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cups chicken broth
6 tablespoons heavy cream
salt and pepper
1 pound Italian sausage, casings removed
1/2 head green cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tbsp jarred horseradish
2 tbsp dried parsley, divided

1. Preheat the broiler. In a pot, combine the potatoes and enough salted water to cover by 1 inch. Cover and bring to a boil, then uncover and cook until fork-tender, about 10 minutes; drain. Mash in 1/2 cup chicken broth and the cream, season with salt and pepper.

2. Meanwhile, in a large, ovenproof skillet, cook the sausage over medium-high heat, breaking it up, until browned, 5-7 minutes; using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a bowl. Add the cabbage, onion and garlic to the pan, season with salt and pepper and cook until golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1 1/2 cups chicken broth and horseradish. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the liquid is reduced, about 10 minutes. Stir in the cooked sausage and half the parsley.

3. Spoon the mashed potatoes onto the sausage mixture and broil until the potatoes are golden, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining parsley.

The Verdict: Very good, but in my opinion, not better than old-style Shepard's Pie.
I love to have company for dinner so that I get some new input into the recipes I'm trying out. Everyone liked it a lot; Amir ate his entire plate (though largely worked his way around the cabbage) and all the adults had seconds. It's different. Not different in that "contrary to good way"; just not what you'd expect to find under a layer of mashed potatoes.

This is a Rachel Ray magazine find and the original recipe called for hot Italian sausage. As I always write, my 2-year-old doesn't really dig on hot, so I used mild. Actually, not only did I use mild but used so horrid brand of Italian chicken sausage that was less sausage and more hot dog. So instead of squeezing the contents out of the casing, I had to chop each sausage up into fine pieces. Yecch. Tasted fine, thank goodness. But that was my mistake. I would also encourage you to make your mashed potatoes however you like to make them. I found the Everyday way to be too dry and not very tasty. I prefer mine mashed with lots of milk and butter; nice and creamy.

I would also encourage you to use horseradish and not horseradish sauce like I did, especially if you go with the mild sausage. One tablespoon isn't quite enough to give it any zing.

If you don't have an oven-proof skillet, just compile the ingredients into a casserole dish. Try to use one that's not too deep, though, or else you end up with gigantic mounds of mashed potato.

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