It's All About The Goozle
When I set out to make a shepherd's pie with a topping of squashed kabocha instead of mashed potato, little did I know it would be all about the sauce.
I sauteéd cubes of lamb London broil in a little bacon fat, set them aside in the baking dish, then repeated with two green garlics and a leek in the same pan. Added chunks of skinny little new carrots in three colors, and frozen peas with pearl onions, cooking just until the carrots were tender and the peas thawed. Dumped all of that into the baking dish but, before adding the squash, I thought, "That looks dry. How can I keep it moist in the oven?"
If you are a regular reader here, you know that I don't know from gravy. I wasn't raised by a gravy-lovin' mother so I don't really even know how to make it, but gravy is exactly what this dish needed, so here goes!
I considered chicken broth but decided beef would be more compatible with the lamb (oh, for a little lamb broth!). Just as I was about to wash the pan, I realized that the best flavor in the whole dish was languishing at the bottom of that pan. Bacon flavor! Lamb drippings! Oniony stuff!
So, I added just a tad of butter to the pan to get things moving, sprinkled it with a modicum of flour and cooked those together for a few minutes, then blended in a squiggle of tomato paste from a tube, before adding beef stock little by little, stirring like a mad witch until it all smoothed out, deglazed the pan, got shiny and turned a very homey brown. I poured the resulting gravy, if you can call it that, all around the lamb chunks and veggies, and patted the squash blanket over the rest. Dotted it with a tad more butter and slid it into a 350 degree oven to heat.
The veggies were fine and fresh, the squash was sweet and buttery, the lamb was tasty but, kids, it's really all about the goozle. It was so packed with flavor that it cast the rest of the dish into the shade. We chased that last bit all around the plate, refusing to leave even a smidgen (oh, for a nice piece of bread!). I've coined a new Irish blessing:
"May your meals be filled always with plenty of goozle."