Tag Archives: pork

Experimenting with Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie


I have made shepherd’s pie dozens of times.  In my early years of cooking…that would be two years ago now…I used boxed potatoes.  That was partly to save time and partly because I didn’t want to go through the rigmarole of peeling and prepping potatoes.

Years later, I realize how simple prepping potatoes can be and I now make my own.  Not only because I can, but also due to my newfound desire to reduce the amount of processed food I eat.  This extends to canned goods and boxed goods…I try my best to make my own ingredients, rather than buying pre-made, pre-processed crap.

And so, my shepherd’s pie has gone through a few versions over the past little while.  My “classic” version can be found earlier in this blog….“No, not Shep Pie….Shepherd’s Pie! Shep-HERD!”

Recently I decided to try to mix things up a bit.  The result was…um…interesting 🙂

Typical beginning….sauteeing some onions….

I sautéed an onion in oil along with a couple of garlic cloves.
While the onions did their thing…which included simply smelling good (is there anything better than the smell of slow cooking onions??)…I peeled and chopped up my potatoes…..

Yep…sweet potatoes! 5 of them to be exact

That’s right…I decided to go with local Ontario sweet potatoes to see how they would play with the flavour of shepherd’s pie. I always slice them into 1/2″ rounds as I find they cook that much faster!  Boiled them for barely half and hour and they were tender….

Added a dollop of butter and mashed them…very cathartic that is…mashing 😉

Once the onions were tender, I added the meat…this time, rather than my typical beef, I decided to try ground pork.

Added 2 lbs of ground beef to the mix!

Browned the meat completely.  As it cooked, I added Italian Seasoning (a mix of thyme, oregano and basil), a splash of soya sauce and Worcestershire sauce, as well as a bit of cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. It was at that point that I realized a) I had gotten lean ground meat and was therefore left with a lot of fat and juice and b) my pan wasn’t deep enough to hold the onions and meat, as well as the vegetables I planned to add.  So I used a slotted spoon to remove the meat/onion mix from the pan and put in into a deeper pot.

Then I added my chosen vegetables…pretty simple actually…chopped celery and carrot.

I also got it into my head that I would add some tomato sauce. I was thinking perhaps that would help to hold the base together as my shepherd’s pie always seems to fall apart when I serve it.

It didn’t work…which you’ll see at the end.  Grrrrr.

Once the veggies were somewhat tender and all was mixed well, I created a base layer in my casserole dish for my shepherd’s pie.

Then I decided to be creative and added a layer of corn…which…um, yeah…it came from a can. After my rant earlier about canned goods, I use canned corn. But seriously, what were my options? Use a fork and pry kernels from a cob?

All that yummy goodness…topped with sweet potatoes! And parmesan cheese!! …Obviously that part is optional, unless like me, you’re partial to yummy cheese!

I cooked these the same way as the beef version…. 400 degree oven until potatoes start to brown (about 30 minutes). Broil for last few minutes if necessary to brown further.

As I already mentioned, my shepherd’s pie tends to fall apart when I cut portions.

Not sure what I’m missing in my recipes but I remember eating it growing up and having it served almost as a slice of pie…where both layers hold themselves together.

So, experimental success??

It was good.  Not spectacular, but good.  I admit that I much prefer a beef base than pork and the sweet potatoes added a bit too much “sweet” to the pie.  But overall, a good experiment that tasted even better the following day!

Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 lbs ground pork
  • splash of Worcestershire sauce
  • splash of soy sauce
  • salt/pepper
  • Italian Seasoning (oregano, thyme, basil)
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1-2 sticks of celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1/3 can tomato sauce
  • 5 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 can corn kernels
  • Parmesan cheese – optional

 

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Slice 5 medium sized sweet potatoes into 1/2″ rounds and put them in a pot, covering them with water.  Bring to a boil and allowing to continue until potatoes are tender…about 30 minutes.
  3. Once tender, add 1 tbsp of butter to the potatoes and mash them.  Set aside.
  4. Sauté onions in a dollop of oil until tender over medium heat (10 mins).
  5. Add ground pork and continue to sauté over medium heat.
  6. Spice to taste…I used a splash of Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce as well as Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and a bit of cayenne.
  7. Once pork is almost completely browned, add your chosen vegetables. I chose celery and carrot.
  8. As the vegetables tenderize, add the tomato sauce.
  9. Place pork mixture in casserole dish.
  10. Next create a thin layer of corn.
  11. Distribute mashed potatoes on top. Rough up with a fork so that there are peaks that will brown nicely.
  12. OPTIONAL: Garnish with a bit of grated parmesan cheese.
  13. Cook in 400 degree oven until potatoes start to brown (about 30 minutes). Broil for last few minutes if necessary to brown further.
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Stuffed Pork Tenderloin (Warning: Mushrooms relieving themselves, read with caution)


Let me start this post by clarifying that I LOVE pork tenderloin.  It’s the stuffing in this recipe that I didn’t care for and so now I know that I’m not a big fan of savoury.  At least, I think it was the savoury that caused my tastebuds to recoil.  It might have been the sage…or the mix of the two…but somehow I believe it was the savoury.

I’ve never been a big fan of rosemary either and the savoury brought back rosemary-ish memories…so there you have it.

I made this awhile back now…so this post may not be as in-depth as others I have written.  Yep, I’m breaking the whole blog-right-away rule.  Such a rebel! 😉

I also have to apologize for the pictures.  I took them somewhat haphazardly during the cooking process so the composition is questionable and … well, the tenderloins just look…..

It doesn’t matter…lol…You’ll see.

*mutter mutter* I just hope WordPress doesn’t have a strict “No Dirty *Looking* Photos” policy.

Click here for the recipe or scroll to the bottom of the post.

So to begin, you prep your onions, red pepper and mushrooms.  Pretty straightforward…and then you saute them….

So far so good….

 

At this point, the recipe said to saute them until the mushrooms release their moisture.  I remember thinking ‘huh?’
I know that mushrooms contain a lot of water but I wondered if I’d be able to tell when they were ready.

Yep, it was pretty obvious.  Sort of as though the mushrooms had held it for so long that a little warmth…and voila!  Moisture!  (Yeah, there’s a pee joke in there somewhere!)  It happens in the blink of an eye (doesn’t it always!) so watch for it and be prepared!

Mushroom water!!!!

Once your mushrooms have relieved themselves…add your savoury, sage, salt and pepper…stir and saute a bit longer…followed by removing it from heat and adding of mustard and bread crumbs.

Now that your stuffing is prepped…it’s time for some fun!!

Breaking out my new toy!

I took a few pictures of me and my new kitchen toy…but they were all blurred, or just ridiculous 😉  That was the best of the bunch.

 That was the first time I used my meat tenderizer.  Love shiny things! *grin*

Ooooh, shiny!!

Slice your tenderloins 3/4 of the way through, open them up and smash them!

Okay, more like, flatten them slightly.  The recipe actually said ‘if you wish’ and all I could think was “Who the heck wouldn’t want to hit things with a big shiny silver club-type weapon?!   I mean, really?”

Ready for smashing!!

Once you have flattened tenderloins, start scooping the stuffing.  Pack a thick row of it down the middle of each and then close them up…skewers, string…

I had coloured toothpicks!  (Keep reading, the toothpicks don’t end well!)

Yeah, yeah, I KNOW how it looks! Let it go people! ;P

Once stuffed and skewered/closed/toothpicked…sear both sides in a hot frying pan.

Searing one side....

 

Searing side two!

Once seared…time for the oven to do its work!  Transfer them to a roasting pan and roast them for 20-25 minutes.

Ready to bake!

In a short time, you have two lovely stuffed pork tenderloins to serve!

 

With regards to the closing/skewering/tying/toothpicking closed…coloured toothpicks?  Not your friend.  Well, mainly the blue and the red ones…which weeped all over the meal.  Green seemed okay. *wink*  This is a picture just out of the oven…the colour began running down the sides as they cooled.  Oops!

This recipe was actually incredibly easy and fast.  Add a few side dishes and you have yourself a beautiful meal!

Although I have admitted that the stuffing wasn’t to my taste, my dinner guests loved the pork so I have to assume it was a my-tastebuds-against-theirs type situation.
The pork smelled heavenly and with a few herb tweaks, I’m sure I’d find it awesome as well!

Sliced and ready to serve!

NOTE: I also made the apple drizzle, which you will find detailed below.  It was a great addition to the dish…a bit of sweet to partner the savoury.  I highly recommend including it!

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 8 oz fresh mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup red pepper, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely diced
  • 1 tsp dried savoury
  • 1 tsp sage leaves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 4 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup fresh whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 2 pork tenderloin
  1. In med skillet, heat 1 tbsp oil over med/high heat.
  2. Saute mushrooms, red pepper and onion for approx 3-4 minutes…until moisture is released from mushrooms.
  3. Add savoury, sage, salt and pepper.  Saute for 1 minute.  Remove from heat.  Stir in mustard and bread crumbs.
  4. Cut tenderloins almost in half lengthwise so it opens like a book.  Pound to flatten slightly if you wish. Lightly pack stuffing down the centre of each tenderloin, leaving 1-inch border around the edges.
  5. Fold tenderloins closed, secure with skewers or string.
  6. Preheat oven to 400F.
  7. Heat remaining oil in a skillet over med/high heat.  Sear both sides of the tenderloins for about 5 minutes.
  8. Transfer pork to a baking pan and roast for 20-25 min or until juices run clear (or use a thermometer and roast until 155F)
  9. Let stand covered with foil for 5-10 min, slice and fan out on serving plate.
  10. Drizzle with pan juices or apple drizzle (below)

Apple Drizzle

In a small pan, mix 1 cup apple juice with 1 tbsp corn starch until smooth.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly and boil 1-2 min until thickened and clear. Stir in pan juices and drizzle over tenderloin.


Potato and Turkey “Lasagna”


I found this recipe in a local newspaper and decided to give it a try.  It referred to the dish as a Lasagna, but aside from the layering, it isn’t remotely a lasagna…more of a wannabe.  I had to alter the recipe a little bit due to available ingredients and preferences.  Some of the errors I made resulted in an *extremely* late dinner…but the food was yummy!  And that’s all that matters! 😉

Click here for the recipe or scroll to the bottom of the post.

This dish involved a lot of chopping, dicing and slicing.  Good for my knife skills, not so good when two hungry people are waiting on dinner!  There was a lot of preparation involved, and not much in terms of cooking.  Next time I attempt this meal, I would give myself some extra time and probably ask for a bit of help.

All good dishes begin with garlic!

Four cloves of garlic, chopped

After which I continued to chop up as much as I could to start off.  (Admittedly, I was avoiding peeling the potatoes!)

Chopped Onion

Chopped Herbs: Thyme, Oregano, Parsley

After my chopping extravaganza, I grudgingly moved on to the potatoes.  I have to say, if I were a potato peeler, I would be fired and unemployed.  I really, really dislike peeling potatoes!  Perhaps this explains why my kitchen is populated by boxes of instant potatoes!

But it had to be done so I peeled, sliced and seasoned those enemy spuds which took upwards of an hour and included some swearing. 😉

The enemy has been identified!

An hour later, peeled potatoes! Grrrrr

The enemy has been eliminated! Well...okay, sliced, seasoned and buttered...but still.

Potatoes done, swearing over, I realized my chopping wasn’t over.  Three little zucchinis mocked me from the countertop.  I have no Zucchini Mocking pictures…it was just too upsetting! But I recovered my dignity by attacking them with a blade!!  Very cathartic!  That’ll teach you, you arrogant zucchinis!

My triumph over the ever-arrogant zucchinis!

Chopping done, I turned my attention to the meat portion of this meal.  The original recipe called for lean ground chicken but I could only find turkey at the grocery store, which worked just as well.  It required a light sauteing with garlic and onions.

Sauteing the turkey, onions, garlic w/salt and pepper"

And then?  Onto the layering!  I assume the layering is why this dish was compared to lasagna, but it really isn’t anything like a lasagna…not only due to the lack of pasta, but also because it requires only one cheese.  Not as rich as lasagna and not as expensive to make!

First set of layers

It said to layer them in this order: potatoes, zucchini, turkey et al, herbed with pinches of oregano, parsley and thyme….repeat!  I managed to repeat this twice, then I topped it all with a third layer of potatoes.

Layered dish, ready to cook!

I covered it with aluminum foil and baked it at 350 for 40 minutes.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Random Notes

At this point, I want to point out a few things…plus I need to admit to an error I made.  It is due to this oversight that I had to cook this meal for close to double the amount of time.

ERROR
The original recipe called for tomatoes as an additional layer.  I deleted this ingredient as I simply don’t like tomatoes and figured I could make this without them.  What I didn’t consider at the time was the water content in the tomatoes.  Without them, there was little moisture in the dish to boil and aid in cooking the potatoes. After 40 minutes, the potatoes on top were still very uncooked.  I mentioned this to B and he suggested adding water, repeating the point made above about the tomatoes.

Water added, I reset the oven and cooked it for an additional 20-30 minutes and all was good.  If you add water (or tomatoes) from the very beginning, I’m betting the original cooking time would be enough.

FRESH HERBS
This was my first time working with fresh herbs, so I had no idea how potent they would be!  I didn’t overdo it per say, but I came awfully close.  So if you, like me, don’t have much experience with fresh herbs…respect them and use them somewhat sparingly. 😉

BIGGER DISH, LESS VEG, MORE MEAT
I used a small round baking dish but in hind sight, I would suggest a longer rectangular dish instead. 
If you go with a smaller dish, reduce your zucchini and potato amounts.  I had quite a lot of both leftover that I ended up storing for a future meal.
Even with my small dish, I found I had barely enough meat to make two good-sized layers.  For reference, I bought a 450 g  package of turkey, so if you are going to try this, I suggest buying a little more than that.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Onto the final, and the best, step!  Adding the cheese!  I crumbled goat cheese all over the top and returned the dish to the oven for another 10 minutes.  For the last couple of minutes, B turned on the broiler which allowed the cheese to brown slightly.

Goat Cheese Topping

Okay, so at the end of the day, it isn’t exactly pretty:

…but was it ever good!

I don’t mind goat cheese, but it depends what I’m eating along with it that decides whether I really enjoy it or not.  In this instance, the goat cheese complemented everything perfectly!  I would definitely make this dish again and am considering what other ingredients I would add to mix it up a little.

READER QUERY: Thoughts?  What other veg or tuber would you add as a layer?

Lastly, I have to say that reheated the next day….even better!!! 🙂

Yummy reheated goodness!

Potato & Turkey NOT-Lasagna


INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb extra lean ground turkey (or lean ground chicken)
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 large peeled potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 zucchinis, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp each of chopped thyme, oregano, parsley
  • 1 1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
  • little bit of water
  1. Preheat oven 350 F.
  2. Heat pan on high with a little bit of oil.  Saute onions along with ground turkey and half the chopped garlic cloves. Season with salt and pepper.  Once meat is cooked through, remove pan from stove and set aside.
  3. Melt butter with remaining garlic and pour over sliced potatoes.  Add salt and pepper.
  4. In a baking dish, start to build layers.  Potatoes, zucchini, turkey, 3 chopped herbs, in that order over again until dish is full.  Add a bit of water and cover.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes or until all layers are soft and easily pierced.
  6. Once soft, uncover and top with goat cheese.  Bake another 10 minutes (broil for a few minutes to brown the cheese).

Additional Notes:

  • The original recipe called for extra lean ground chicken.  Turkey worked quite well; that’s all I could find at the grocery store.
  • It also called for 4 large tomatoes, thinly sliced and used as another layer.  I deleted this as I don’t like tomatoes.  If you decide to add them, don’t add the water.

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