Thursday, August 28, 2014

Pinterest Day 2 - Sweet Potato and Ground Beef Pie

The Pinterest recipe I looked at today is Sweet Potato and Ground Beef Pie by Healthy Foodie

The Reasons:
My freezer went off for 4 days and I've got a pile of food to cook or eat now.  Baked sweet potatoes are some of them. I was hoping to use this recipe for some idea of flavors I could use.

The Ingredients:
What I can use:
grass-fed lean ground beef
sea salt
bell pepper
sweet potatoes

What I can't use:
black pepper
Dijon mustard
coconut aminos
baby spinach
semi-soft cheese
walnut halves

The Challenges:
1. My sweet potatoes are already cooked, so I already have to adjust for that. 
2. As usual, while I can use some of the main ingredients, the majority of the ingredients giving this dish more flavor are on my 'bad' list.  I think this is the number one reason that I have trouble making food that I like to eat.
3. I have white button mushrooms, but not portobello

So, what did I do?

I decided to try and make a shepherd's pie, but using sweet potatoes rather than regular potatoes, getting some ideas from this recipe for how to flavor the meat.

For the meat mixture, I first quickly fried in olive oil: 1 Tb crushed coriander, 1 Tb crushed onion seed (from onions, not the Indian Kalonji), 2 crushed chiltepines, less than a Tb of finely diced ginger, and a 1 inch skinny piece of fresh turmeric root. I added 1/2 pound of ground bison (close enough) plus. Then I finally chopped up about 4-5 white button mushrooms and added those. Then took 1/2 a large red bell pepper and finely grated the flesh (not the skin) and added the pulp to the mixture. I added salt, and then cooked this until the bison was completely cooked, and then got 2-3 Tb of pre-cooked green beans (another freezer refugee), chopped them fine and added them as I turned off the heat.

For the sweet potato, I first had to disguise the taste. Because I eat this stuff for the nutrients, not because I like it. However, something I know that makes the taste better is to get some fresh citrus juice, boil it down until it's 2/3-1/2 the original volume, and add some of that to mashed sweet potato. It gives it a bright, tangy taste and takes away some of that earthier flavor which I dislike. 

So that's what I did, and probably added maybe 2 Tb. of freshly made lemon juice concentrate to 2 baked and mashed (with skins discarded) smallish sweet potatoes. I added in maybe a 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of previously frozen finely grated orange peel. I mixed it up until it was smooth, then spread it over the meat mixture in a baking dish.

I cooked the entire thing in an oven at 375 F, covered in tinfoil for 10 minutes, then cooked without tinfoil for another 20.

Yeah, I ate it before you got a picture. Oops.

Why did I make these choices:
I added the coriander to try and make up for the sort of floral sweetness of the nutmeg - not a perfect match, but it won't usually clash with the other flavors, at least.

The onion seed is as close as I can get to having onion, and I have to use it sparingly, as I only have what I managed to grow.

I thought the green beans would work out all right for a spinach substitution, although if I had the time, I would have gone out and harvested some amaranth leaves, as I think they would have done all right here. 

I really don't have much yet to sub for the mustard, broccoli, or coconut aminos/soy sauce.  I'm sure that alters the flavor significantly from a much darker, richer flavor. It's one of the reasons I thought the citrus added to the sweet potato might do all right, as the meat was also going to be lighter in flavor. 

The result:
Eh. It was edible, and I am perfectly willing to eat it, but it's nothing special. As usual, I like the citrus and sweet potato. I like make sweet potato pie just out of that (I'll have to make a recipe for it, one of these days). The orange rind brightened it up.

The meat definitely didn't class with it, but it did really add anything to it, either. It was just sort of 'there.' Part of that, I think, is that I didn't use enough spices; there was not much flavor at all to be tasted, other than 'meat.'

How would I change this:
I would significantly increase the flavors in the meat mixture. Until that happens, I'm not sure how well they would blend or not, so I'd have to see from there. But the moistness was nice, and the citrus tang was nice.

It would have been awesome if I could have come up with a way to make this kind of like an orange-beef teriyaki dish, with the sweet potato providing the orange and sweet flavor, and the beef having the soy sauce depth.  Without soy sauce or any substitutes, though, I'm not sure how to accomplish it. 

Something to think about, though. 

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