Saturday, October 25, 2014

Celebrating Halloween with Family & Friends? Try these recipes from Prairie Grass Cafe

 "Untraditional" Shepherd's Pie & Caramel Apple Martini

The ultimate comfort food is Shepherd's Pie, originally made with leftover roasted meat of any kind and a pie dish lined with mashed potato as well as a having a mashed potato crust on top originally called Cottage Pie. The term "shepherd's pie" did not appear until 1877Shephard's Pie and has since been used synonymously with "cottage pie" regardless of whether the principal ingredient was beef or mutton. 
Northbrook's Prairie Grass Cafe (601 Skokie Blvd., Northbrook, IL 847-205-4433)  chefs Sarah Stegner and George Bumbaris have been serving up their "Untraditional Shepherd's Pie" version ($22) with all natural beef and a puree of potatoes, parsnips and butternut squash, a real treat, since opening Prairie Grass Cafe 10 years ago. It's the perfect fall dish and one that Stegner has enjoyed serving guests at Halloween for years. 

She recommends pairing it with a salad of mixed greens, Honeycrisp apples, goat cheese and toasted walnuts. 

The perfect cocktail to accompany the Shepherd's Pie, recommends Prairie Grass Cafe mixologist Dan Sviland, is his Caramel Apple Martini currently on the menu. 

Untraditional Shepherd's Pie 
Serves 4
2 pounds all natural beef (or other grass-fed beef) chuck-eye roll cut into 1-inch chunks, fat and sinew removed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 cup chopped fresh, skinned and seeded tomatoes
1 cup peeled and diced carrots 
1 cup diced celery 
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (removed from stem)
3 cups unseasoned chicken stock 
3 cups demi-glace* 
4 bay leaves
1 cup blanched rainbow chard 
1 Ghost or Habanero pepper, left whole (optional)

1. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Sear the meat in olive oil in a large hot pan over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally, until the meat is browned on all sides. 
2. Remove meat from the pan and sauté onions until tender. Add garlic, carrots, and celery. Return the meat to the pan. Add the chicken stock and demi-glace.
3. If using, tie Ghost pepper with kitchen twine (or place in bouquet garni bag) and lower into liquid-taste often until desired heat is achieved, then carefully remove and discard. Be careful not to touch the pepper with uncovered hands. Cover the pan and cook slowly until the meat is tender. Taste and adjust seasoning.
4. Stir in the Swiss chard and place in an oven-proof casserole dish, or divide evenly between 4 smaller crocks.

For the topping: 
4 cups potato puree
1/4 cup parsnip puree
1/8 cup butternut squash puree
2 tablespoons whole butter
1 cup chicken stock
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
1. Mix together the above ingredients. Spread on top of braised meat in casserole dish (or divide into 4 portions and spread over meat in individual crocks). 
2. Place in 400-degree oven for 30 minutes, until potatoes begin to brown.
3. Serve and enjoy!
*You can buy Demi-Glace Gold, a concentrated demi-glace, at The Spice House in Evanston, or online. You mix it with hot water to use in recipes.

Copyright Sarah Stegner and George Bumbaris 

Caramel Apple Martini_300

Caramel Apple Martini
1.5 oz. North Shore Vodka
3 oz. Caramel Cider Mix
Shake and Serve up

Caramel Apple Cider:
4 cups Apple Cider
1 cup Homemade Caramel Sauce
Blend 10 seconds.
Both the Unconditional Shepherd's Pie and the Caramel Apple Martini are available at Prairie Grass Cafe throughout the fall.

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