Shepherd’s Pie, Baked Stuffed Pumpkn

The past few weeks, Sawyer has been in and out of Beijing on business trips, which comes with the hazard of business-banquets and business-drinking copious amounts of baijiu. So I’ve been trying to make some more wholesome meals when he’s actually around.

I’ve been wanting to make stuffed squash but couldn’t find anything resembling the delicata squash I use at home. So I used pumpkin, and filled it with a mix of quinoa, vegetables and ground pork.

Start with a small sized pumpkin, cut in half (carefully) and clean out the insides with a spoon. I also cut a small sliver off of each side so they would stand without wobbling.
Lightly rub the insides with butter and sprinkle with brown sugar.
Boil one cup of quinoa in 2 cups water, stir until all water is absorbed and the little tail pops out.
Dice a small carrot (or half a large one), half a medium onion, a small bulb of fennel, and a handful of button mushrooms.
Mince two cloves of garlic finely Mix into half pound of ground pork with splash of cooking wine, pinch of sugar, splash of Maggi seasoning, salt and pepper, and fresh minced rosemary.
Soften the onions in olive oil over medium heat. After a few minutes add the carrots and the fennel. Remove from pan after five minutes, set aside, and soften the mushrooms. Add to the rest of the vegetables, then brown the pork, breaking up the meat evenly.
Mix thoroughly, and then spoon into the pumpkin cavity. Cover loosely with tin foil at bake at 200C for 40 minutes.

Quinoa and Sausage Stuffed Pumpkin

I’ve been craving the hearty filling comfort of shepherd’s pie for months, and finally decided to make it. At Sanyuanli I wasn’t quite sure what cut to ask for (usually we make it with the leftovers from a roast), as I didn’t want a whole leg, so the vendor simply lopped off about a foot long piece from the carcass hanging up.

I started out by roasting the lamb. I served a small slice along with the stuffed pumpkin but saved most of it for the pie.
The marinade: my mother makes an incredible roast lamb out of a sauce based on mayonnaise and yellow mustard. I had neither of these things (unwilling to shell out a large chunk of RMB for a imported condiments I won’t use again, and the mayonnaise in Asia is disgustingly sweetened), so I improvised. I needed mayonnaise. I turned to my trusty friends–the internet and Alton Brown– for inspiration.

Mayonnaise: Ingredients: one egg yolk, 1 Tbs. vinegar, 2 tsp. lemon juice, a pinch of sugar, salt, pepper, paprika and cumin (Alton’s recipe listed powdered mustard, which I didn’t have), one cup neutral oil (I used sunflower).
Whisk the egg yolk and half of the acid mixture.
Drop by drop, whisk the oil in very slowly, only adding more once the oil is incorporated. As you add more, you can slowly increase the pour to a slight stream. Once half the oil is in, ad the remainder of the acid mixture. Again, slowly whisk in the rest of the oil. Soon enough, creamy, tangy mayo! Simple (although a bit of a work out for your arm).

Homemade Mayonnaise

We had some old fashioned dijon mustard from making salad dressing. I mixed about half a cup of mayo with a quarter cup of mustard. I also finely, finely minced a half cup of fresh mint leaves. I mixed this in, as well as salt, pepper, and a dash of coriander and cumin.

Mustard-Mayo Marinade

I cut several cloves of garlic into small wedges, and pierced the lamb all over, inserting slips of garlic into the meat, then liberally slathered it all over with the marinade.

Insert garlic into lamb

Marinade all over

I let this sit for about 45 minutes before popping it into the oven at 180C for 40 minutes. Once the lamb hit 145F on a thermometer, I pulled it out to rest. I removed the drippings from the pan, keeping out the burnt bits and solids, and heated in a pan with a little butter. Once the butter began to bubble a bit, I whisked in two tablespoons of flour, coating it evenly, then slowly whisked in a cup of stock and some red wine, let it reduce to a nice gravy. The next day, I cut what remained after dinner into tiny bite sized pieces, discarding the chunks of fat.

Lamb roasts resting

I peeled and chopped 3 potatoes and a sweet potato, boiled them until very tender, and then mashed with two tablespoons of butter, minced rosemary and garlic, 1/3 cup of milk, salt and pepper. Diced a carrot and onion and 1/2 cup of button mushrooms, and softened this all in a pan, adding last a can of sweet corn kernels.

I lined a baking dish with the mashed potatoes.
Then mixed together the lamb and vegetables and filled the potato shell, and mixed it all up with gravy.
And carefully, bit by bit, made a top crust by spreading bits of mashed potato over the top.

Slowly building the upper crust

I shredded a bit of cheddar and colby jack cheese on top, then popped it in the oven at 180F for 40 minutes. Served with more gravy and a crusty, whole grain bread that Sawyer got from a German
bakery (and for dessert, cheesecake from that bakery too! Delicious!)

A little bit of cheese, a little bit of oven time, and OMNOMNOMS to follow


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