Comfort Cooking for a Pandemic Winter: Part 4 – Main Dishes, cont’d.

Today’s post includes what is probably my signature dish, and by that I mean the one all three of us love — Shepherd’s/Cottage Pie. It’s a great dish to make ahead because it can be frozen. It also reheats well, although there usually isn’t much left to reheat.

Kofta Kebabs
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp kosher salt
1 lb ground lamb
3 tbsp grated onion
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1-2 eggs
Mash garlic with salt into a paste. Mix into the lamb with onion, parsley, and spices until blended. Add bread crumbs and egg(s). Form into balls and flatten. Bake on lightly oiled baking sheet at 350 for 20 min, or until done. They can be also formed around a skewer.
These are a Middle Eastern twist to the kebab. Very tasty!  

Mom’s Tomato Macaroni Skillet
1-1/2 lb ground meat
1-2 med onions, diced
1/2 green pepper, chopped
3 cups cooked tomatoes (canning jar full or large can)
1-1/2 cups uncooked macaroni
Salt and pepper to taste
Brown meat with onion and pepper. Add tomatoes, macaroni, salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer until noodles are tender, 20-30 min. Stir to keep from sticking.
Works well in cast iron skillet with a lid. Easy meal after work. Even my Dad would make this one. 

Pork Schnitzel
2 boneless pork chops, trimmed
dash salt
small amount of flour
bread crumbs
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
Place chops between two pieces of waxed paper and pound with meat mallet or rolling pin until 1/8 thick. Sprinkle salt on both sides of chops.
Place flour on one piece of waxed paper and bread crumbs on another. You will need enough of each to coat both chops. Whisk egg and milk in shallow bowl large enough to dip chops in. Coat chops with flour, dip in egg, then in bread crumbs, pressing crumbs in meat to coat. Heat oil in large pan over med-high heat. Add chops to skillet and cook, turning once, about 3 min per side. Remove to warm platter and serve. 
We ate pork schnitzel on a trip to visit Darling Daughter in Berlin when she was an exchange student. When I discovered how easy it was to make, I swore I’d never make plain pork chops again.  

Pork Stir Fry 
2 tbsp sesame oil
1/4 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-1-1/2 lb leftover pork
1 cup stir fry vegetables (snow peas, carrots, broccoli, etc)
6 tbsp honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp ginger
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds (I’m too lazy to toast them.)
Cut pork into thin strips. heat 1 tbsp sesame oil over med. heat, add onion and garlic, and sauté until tender. Mix ingredients for sauce (remaining oil, honey, pepper flakes, ginger) while onion and garlic are cooking. Add pork to garlic and onion and cook until warm. Add veggies and cook until tender-crisp. Pour sauce over at last minute (may add cornstarch if you want to thicken it), and cook until hot. Serve over rice or rice noodles with sesame seed sprinkled on top. 
My notes say: “Yummy!”

Quick and Easy Empanadas 
Makes six
2 tbsp olive oil
1 pkg refrigerated pizza dough (or make your own)
can of refried beans
2 cups shredded cheddar
Sour cream, guacamole (optional)
Heat oven to 400 F. Grease baking sheet with oil. Divide dough into 6 portions, and roll each into an 8” diameter circle on a floured surface. Spread beans over 1/2 of each circle. Top with 1-1/2 tbsp salsa and 2 tbsp cheese. Fold other half over filling, and press edges to seal. Lightly brush each empanada with oil and bake on prepared baking sheet 12-15 min until golden. Top with guacamole and sour cream or more salsa if desired. These freeze well. I haven’t made them in a while, but will now I’ve rediscovered the recipe. I can’t vouch for the
authenticity of their flavor, having never had empanadas in a Latin country.

Photo by Abby Kihano on

Shepherd’s or Cottage Pie
1 lb ground beef, turkey or lamb 
1 lg chopped onion
1 cup or so frozen, fresh or canned peas (I usually use frozen.)
1 cup chopped fresh carrots (I suppose you could use frozen or canned, but why?)
4-5 potatoes, peeled and chopped
Worcestershire sauce
Rosemary (if using lamb)
Milk to mash potatoes
Butter for potatoes
Grated cheddar, a cup or so
Instant mashed potatoes
Preheat oven to 375. Sauté onion until soft, then add meat and brown. Meanwhile boil potatoes until soft enough to mash. Once meat is browned, drain fat. Add vegetables, and Worcestershire sauce (maybe 2-3 tbsp according to taste). If using lamb, add some rosemary here too. Add enough water to keep vegetables and meat from burning, and simmer until carrots are soft. While this cooks, mash the potatoes with butter and milk. Cheese can be mixed in now or sprinkled on top when baking. (I like it mixed in. Darling Daughter seems to prefer on top.) Once carrots are tender, sprinkle in enough instant potatoes to thicken mixture to desired consistency. If you prefer thickening it another way (potato starch, flour, cornstarch), go right on and do so, but the potatoes are quick and easy. Place meat and veg mixture in bottom of prepared casserole dish. Completely cover with mashed potatoes taking care to seal the edges, then rough the potatoes to form peaks that will brown a little, adding some nice color to the finished product. Bake about 30 minutes, until the potatoes start to brown. 
If you use lamb, it’s Shepherd’s Pie. If you use beef, it’s Cottage Pie. I suppose if you use ground turkey, it should be Poulterer’s Pie. To freeze for a future meal, don’t bake it. Just cover tightly and thaw completely before baking. I frequently double the recipe, and make several smaller casseroles suitable for a meal for two, baking one and freezing the rest.

2 thoughts on “Comfort Cooking for a Pandemic Winter: Part 4 – Main Dishes, cont’d.

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