In addition to our 100 Mile Challenge, which begins in January, we've signed up for the Dark Days challenge, organized by Urban Hennery. The challenge begins December 1, 2010 to April 15, 2011 and once a week, you cook up a local meal focused on SOLE (Sustainable, Organic, Local, Ethical) ingredients.
While we've committed to the 100 Mile Challenge at 75%, the Dark Days challenge is a creative way to prepare a meal solely using the food around you.
For our first challenge, we're playing it a little safe until we get our footing and have prepared a comforting Shepherd's Pie. Here's the rundown of the ingredients and how we prepared this tasty pie:
2 lb frozen garden tomatoes
dried sage and fresh thyme2 lbs grass-fed local ground beef
1 local onion, diced
2 cloves local garlic, chopped
2 cups local mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
4 slices local bacon
1/2 cup local red wine
1.5 lbs local potatoes
summer savoury sprinkled on top
First I made a sauce from the tomatoes and wine and reduced it so it wasn't so watery and I seasoned it with fresh thyme and dried sage. I put it through the food processor to get it smooth. While making the sauce, I browned the beef. In a separate frying pan, I fried chopped bacon and removed the bacon once crispy. In the remaining fat (oh yah, baby), I fried the mushrooms until golden and the onions and garlic until the onions had lightly browned.
While the sauce, beef and bacon are doing their thing, I boiled the potatoes and mashed them with some milk and butter.
When all finished, the beef went in the bottom, sauce over top, sauteed mushrooms/garlic/onion/bacon mixture and finished off the the mashed potatoes. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.
I served it with a glass of local red and steamed carrots tossed with local honey. It was delicious and the bacon and wine added that nice depth. Still, I missed a bit of salt to the dish, but it was definitely not a bad way to start the Dark Days Challenge!