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Shepherd’s pie is an old English, Irish and Scottish peasant food. It’s traditionally made with minced lamb and is topped with mashed potatoes. An earlier version of this dish is known as cottage pie. Cottage pie was typically made with ground beef. Whether it’s cottage pie or shepherd’s pie the essentials are potatoes and an inexpensive cut of meat.
This version fuses cultures, inviting a Jewish flair by using flanken cut beef short ribs rather than ground beef. Flanken is a Yiddish word for the cut of meat that goes across the bone so the meat is in strips wrapped around sections of bone rather than lying along the bone. This is a tough, typically undesirable cut of meat, which is why it was easily available, and, like so many peasant foods, is absolutely delicious if treated just right.
Flanken would have been used for cholent and stews that could sit for hours on the stove to be enjoyed during Shabbat or for the holidays. Although this recipe does take a little time, it doesn’t take hours. It is quick to prepare and slow to cook, which is perfect for a cool fall day.
English Cottage Pie with Yiddish Flanken Cut Short Ribs
2. Pat the flanked short ribs dry with a paper towel. Then sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. of salt. Drizzle 1 Tbsp. of olive oil into a dutch oven or a frying pan. If you are using a dutch oven or oven-safe pan with a lid you can make this all in one pot. If you do not have a dutch oven you can transfer the meat to a roasting pan once it has browned. Brown the short ribs on high/medium high on both sides.
3. While the meat is browning, wash and trim cauliflower. Remove core and slice in half. Wash potatoes and wipe dry. Cut root side off of the head of garlic. Pour 1/8 of a cup of olive oil over the potatoes, garlic and cauliflower and rub with oil. Sprinkle 1 tsp. of salt over the vegetables and place them together in a separate roasting pan.
4. If you are using a roasting pan for your meat as well, transfer the browned ribs to the pan now. Deglaze your frying pan with 1 1/2 cups of red wine then pour that into the roasting pan as well. If you are using a dutch oven, just add the wine to the dutch oven and bring to a boil. Add tomato paste and cover with a lid or heavy duty tin foil.
5. Place everything in the oven for 90 minutes. Be prepared to check the vegetables within an hour. If they are still hard, you can add a few tablespoons of water to the roasting pan.
6. After 90 minutes, carefully remove the dishes from the oven. Check that the potatoes and cauliflower are tender and there is no resistance when a knife is inserted into either. Remove the bones from the flanken cut short ribs. They should pop out with a spoon or fork. The meat should be very tender. After removing the bones, put the meat back in the oven with the lid on for another 30 minutes while you prepare the mash.
7. In a food processor or blender puree the roasted garlic, cauliflower and 1 cup of water, stock or rice milk. You want a smooth texture. If the puree is too thick (like mashed potatoes) add a little more liquid until the puree is more like a thin applesauce. Slice the potatoes (if you prefer no skin, remove the potato skins as soon as the potatoes are cool enough to touch). Drizzle 2 Tbsp. of vegetable oil over the potatoes and mash with a fork or potato masher. Mash in 1/2 tsp. of salt and 1 tsp. of freshly ground pepper. Next, stir the cauliflower mash into the mashed potatoes.
8. Take the ribs out of the oven and carefully take out the meat one rib or piece at a time. With two forks, shred the meat. As you shred the meat remove the pieces of cartilage that can be found near where the bones were. Once you have shredded all the meat, scoop out the tomato paste that is left in the pan and mix it with the shredded meat. Add two cups of (defrosted) frozen peas to the shredded meat and stir together.
10. You can sprinkle the potato with paprika for color if you like. Take a teaspoonful of the rendered fat from the short ribs and drizzle it over the potatoes. Cover the shepherd’s pie with tin foil and bake for another 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
The pie can be prepared (steps 1-9) and frozen or left overnight in the fridge and then cooked the following day.
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When I started dating my husband he was living in Atlanta, and through my visits down south I was introduced to a whole new world of food–barbeque. I don’t want to instigate a war between barbeque lovers and the intricacies of what makes a North Carolina BBQ sauce different from a Kansas City sauce, but, suffice it to say, I think it’s all pretty delicious.
Growing up, BBQ meant chicken breasts covered in store bought sauce, baked in the oven (my mom is from Ohio). And I ate it happily, but after I spent some time eating my way through Atlanta, I’ve learned how much better something can be when it’s fresh and homemade, and I love being able to adjust the seasoning based on what I’m serving or how I’m planning to use the leftovers.
After taste testing many different recipes for BBQ sauce, the ones I liked best have both brown sugar and molasses, with something smokey and spicy to cut the sweetness a bit–in this case chipotle in adobo, one of my go-to-ingredients for chili as well. All of these ingredients work in perfect concert together to create a sweet, smoky, spicy sauce. Whether it’s brisket or chicken, even veggies or tofu, everything tastes better slathered in this amazing and simple sauce.
1. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
2. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for an additional 3 minutes. It’s important to add the onions first or else the garlic will burn.
3. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the rest of the ingredients, the more liquid ones first. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
4. Using an immersion blender, blend, still in pan, until completely smooth.
If you do not have an immersion blender, consider investing in one! It’s great for everything from baby food to soup to sauce. However, if you don’t have one, the sauce would be delicious slightly chunky: Just make sure to dice everything very finely, or you can pour the slightly cooled sauce into a regular blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
5. For use on grilled meat, let the sauce cool completely and then marinate the meat in sauce for up to an hour before grilling, and then continue to baste with sauce while cooking.
This is fantastic for a typical American style BBQ feast, but can also transport you around the world. Using it on steak that is then thinly sliced is wonderful on top of a Vietnamese Bun. Used on pulled chicken you can create great sliders or tacos. Inside a simple chinese-style crepe pancake, it’s a wonderful start to mu-shu, along with some sauteed cabbage and carrots. The options are really limitless, and help you get a glimpse into the fact that grilled meat is really a staple in most cuisines.
Just another example of how food can bring people together across cultures and continents, when other factors just seem to divide us. What better way to celebrate the melting pot of America on the 4th of July than a recipe that can transcend? Wishing you the best for a Happy Fourth of July!