Considering how I was born and raised in the tropics, hot weather has never agreed with me. Cold days, however, put a smile on my face and a spring in my step. Contrary to prevailing medical wisdom, I have less depressive episodes in cold weather and my spirits start to sink when the temperature rises. I have a tendency to write more in cold weather and I am much calmer, more balanced when Siberian breezes blow into the country.
That said, it isn’t surprising that I like cooking cold-weather food. I know it sounds weird, but I take great pleasure out of baking cakes and breads and cooking such things as hearty roasts, stews, and braises. Last night’s dinner was no exception: a little spin on that classic dish shepherd’s pie.
My version is called Rancher’s Pie as it involves a mix of beef and pork mince. It is a variation that takes on a Spanish-Filipino classic called picadillo, a soup-stew that features mince sauteed with onions and garlic before being cooked down with tomato sauce, broth, raisins, carrots, and potatoes. At our house, this particular dish is served over mounds of hot, fluffy rice just out of the cooker and doused with lashings of Knorr Liquid Seasoning. It is a rich, rather oily dish that is totally comforting when eaten on either a cold night or on a weeknight after a particularly harrowing day at the office.
For this dish, I paired the picadillo with a veg-filled version of Paris mash. This spin on mashed potatoes calls for mixing a whisked egg along with the milk/cream and butter. The end result is a richer, more substantial mash. Mine also has the virtue of having cauliflower and garlic along with the spuds for a more flavorful mash. I also tossed on some grated Edam cheese over the top before baking, adding yet another layer of scrumptiousness.
Instead of adding all of the picadillo to the bottom of the pie, I chose to strain off the sauce before putting the stewed mince into the cake tin I used for baking. This savory liquid got reduced and thickened a bit with some cornstarch to make a particularly moreish gravy.
I can’t exactly give you the recipe for this particular wintry meal as I’m still giving it a few tweaks. But let me assure you that it was a hearty treat that warmed us all up on a cold evening. Oh, and the leftovers went down a treat for breakfast the next day. 😀