Apologies for being MIA. As you might have gathered from the last post I wrote, it was a rough week in the DALS house, and to be honest, a week and a few cabinet appointments later, I know we’re not alone in fearing that things might only get rougher. If I had to acknowledge a few bright spots, though, I’d say I’m heartened by all the displays of turning anger into action; by the way people are checking in with friends and family (this Thanksgiving, I’m giving thanks for Thanksgiving); and by watching my two f**ing badass daughters medal in their respective sporting events this past weekend. Also not insignificant: Our dinner table has never felt more vital — as a ritual that grounds us, and as one that reminds us who we are as a family, what we believe in, and how we plan to engage in an active, compassionate way going forward. (Being MIA does not figure into the strategy, by the way.) I hope you feel the same way and I’m eager to hear from everyone on that point.
I have a lot of Thanksgiving and holiday posts in the line-up for you guys, and that will begin tomorrow, but for now I wanted to share a recipe with you. A few days after the election, I was reading a (magical, escapist) short story by Jeanette Winterson (more on that very soon) that mentioned Shepherd’s Pie. The pie was in no means integral to the plot — or even the scene — but I underlined it and circled it, and thought to myself, this, yes this is what I’m craving on some acutely visceral level. My best friend Jeni’s mom, Rosa (book owners: yes, Rosa of Mud Cake fame), used to make it for special occasions, and I can still remember standing in front of their refrigerator, sharing a fork with Jeni, eating the leftovers. As you can see above, I still have a copy of the stained-and-battered recipe written on Rosa’s personal stationery (how 80s is that font?) which brings me a ridiculous amount of happiness. I’ve adjusted the ingredients a bit over the years, but I will say this: As far as comfort food goes, it doesn’t get any better.
Rosa’s Shepherd Pie
The original recipe, as you can see in the photo, was titled “Christmas Pie,” but we never called it that. Also: Step one in this recipe should read Invite your friends over.
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 clove garlic, minced
1/2 pound lean pork
1/2 pound ground veal (you will be forgiven if you substitute ground turkey for this; I do)
1 whole boneless chicken breast, diced into small cubes
1/2 cup chicken broth
3/4 tsp cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 375°F. Melt butter in heavy skillet and saute onion and carrots until golden. Add garlic, pork, veal and cook until brown. Stir in chicken pieces. Add tomato paste, smushing it into the meat so it’s distributed.
Whisk the broth-water into the cornstarch to give it a smooth texture and stir into the meat mixture. Bring to a boil, stirring until mixture thickens. Add salt, pepper, allspice, and nutmeg.
Add meat to 9-inch pie plate. Cover with Mashed Potatoes (below) and bake until golden, 30 to 35 minutes.
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup milk (any fat content)
Bring the potatoes to a boil in salted water. Cook until tender, about 20 minutes; drain. Mash the potatoes with the butter, milk, and salt.