Sunday, 8 February 2009

Shepherdless Pie

I actually made this almost a week ago, and am only getting round to posting it now because I have the organisational skills of a flip-flop. So, rewinding back to Monday: it was freezing, windy and blanketed with snow (incidentally, if you're from somewhere where it snows more than once biannually, feel free to laugh indulgently at the absurdity of our unpreparedness - public transport ground to a halt, and apparently we're now running out of grit. Who'd have thought grit was even something you could run out of? Doesn't it sound like something there should be a limitless supply of, like dirt?). Anyway, I'm rambling - the point is, comfort food was in order, so step forward:

2. Sweet Potato and Lentil Pie
Yes, we ate spinach two days in a row! We truly are gods among men

This one's in the "Slow Food" chapter, and bloody hell, she wasn't kidding - we didn't sit down to eat till half eleven at night. OK, this might be partly due to the fact that I didn't actually start cooking till 9:45, and then lost a good twenty minutes when the oven decided to switch itself off (our oven seems curiously indifferent to its supposed purpose in life), but still! It's not difficult to make, but there are a couple of stages: you make a soffrito of onions, celery carrots and garlic, then add tomatoes, bay leaves, paprika, Puy lentils and some water, and simmer it all together for a good half hour. I'd never used Puy lentils before - I actually thought they were the same as green lentils before I went to buy them - and I wasn't sure how tender they were supposed to get, so gave them an extra ten minutes or so cooking time. The pie topping's basically a sweet potato mash, jazzed up a bit with nutmeg, and parmesan too if you're not cheese-phobic like me. The whole thing goes in the oven for twenty minutes and then - ta daaa! - dinner is served:

Your eyes do not deceive you, it really was that orange

I'm not going to try to defend this meal aesthetically - for a start I'm an exceptionally lazy masher and the topping looked suspiciously lumpy in places, but luckily it's nigh on impossible to make sweet potato taste bad so it didn't really matter. As you can see, though, there wasn't quite enough mash to cover the whole pie, so I might up the quantities a bit next time. I'd made the full recipe, which is meant to serve four, even though it was just the two of us eating - I think I had a vague idea that it wouldn't be all that filling and there were unlikely to be any leftovers. Ha! The pie was enoooormous - it could easily have served six, and though we valiantly went back for seconds and thirds we eventually had to admit defeat.

And how did it taste? Surprisingly good, actually - I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but it was very savoury and satisfying, and the nutmeg in the sweet potato really made a difference. It worked well with ketchup, too, which is Dupleix's suggested accompaniment. As for Mike, he's specially requested a 'Mike says' slot, so voici:

Mike says: "Good portions and feels do-goody, the addition of excessive ketchup makes you forget about the lack of meat and makes it amazing. Great re-heated the next day."

I bet he's wishing he'd chosen his own photo now...

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