I love making Shepherd's Pie:
("Shepherd's Pie peppered with actual shepherds..." A little Sweeney Todd reference for those of you musical buffs. )
And while my shepherd's pie is void of actual shepherds, it does include sirloin, ground beef and vegetables all melded together in a glorious sauce and topped with mashed potatoes. I make shepherd's pie quite often, as it's a family favorite. And while I like it, I don't LOVE it. It's not like it's pork, or anything.
The last time I made shepherd's pie was in July for a large family get-together. I made 3 trays, so I would have an extra pie in the freezer for an easy dinner down the road. I call these Emergency Back-Up dinners, and feel much better about feeding these to my family when I am too busy to cook. When the Emergency Back-Up dinners are gone, I resort to feeding my children whatever's available, like a bag of Cheetos. Unfortunately, for all involved, my last batch of Shepherd's Pie was an unmitigated disaster. The gravy turned out tasting weird and the whole mess was runny and unappetizing, leaving one family member to ask, "Is it soup or shepherd's pie?" Yeah, it was that bad. But I had an extra tray of it and was determined not to waste, so I froze it, along with another tray filled with BBQ pulled pork. I sat the tray atop the BBQ pork in the freezer. I think subconsciously I was hoping the BBQ Pork would become the David Blaine of Emergency Back-Up dinners and infuse the shepherd's pie with deliciousness using Freezer Magic. Pork can do that.
I had no intention of using the Pork, but at around 4 pm, it had become clear that there was no way I was going to be able to cook dinner. (What is with those crazy clients wanting their orders finished? What?) so I trotted out to the freezer in the garage and pulled out my glorious BBQ pork. I admit-it made me a little sad to remove it. BBQ pork sitting in the freezer is like a pair of warm socks in your underwear drawer-it just makes you happy to know it's there. I popped the disposable tray filled with pulled pork into the oven and continued working. The pork was frozen solid, so it took a couple of hours before the aroma of dinner began wafting through the house.
And it took another hour before the smoke detectors went off.
Yes, at around 7pm, the smoke detectors started wailing like a banshee, propelling me from my seat at my desk. Something had spilled out of that tray and onto the floor of the oven, causing it to smoke like a train, and as I ran to the kitchen, I sensed that something was wrong. Terribly wrong.
I opened the oven door, waved away the smoke, pulled back the foil lid on the tray and found not my glorious BBQ pork, succulent and juicy, but a watery, crappy Shepherd's Pie that had bubbled up over the sides of the tray. I had pulled from the freezer the wrong tray.
Words were said in my kitchen last night. Bad words. VERY bad words. I don't think a Shepherd's Pie can actually do what I do told it to do to itself, but that didn't stop me. I didn't know what upset me more: the mess in the oven or the fact that I was NOT having BBQ pork for dinner.
I let the Shepherd's Pie cool down and then I chucked it in the garbage. I stood for a moment at the garbage can, thinking about how I'd been done wrong by a Shepherd's Pie and then I went inside...
and ordered pizza.