Thursday, August 1, 2013

Shepherd on a Shingle?

You get home late from a gruelling shift keeping watch over your flock by night. You're too tired to peel potatoes, shell peas, brown meat, or even whip up a light roux. Being a working-class bachelor, your other options don't include kicking back while a domestic slave caters to your ravenous hunger. So what do you do? Maybe you make what I made this evening, which might be described as an all-processed-food mash-up of shepherd's pie and S.O.S.—provided that, immediately after the collision, the paramedics took the shingle away, and the vehicle has been shattered beyond all semblance to a pie.

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Rip open a 2-pound bag of frozen tater tots. The store brand costs $2.00 these days. There's no need to go any fancier than that. Pour about half of the taters into a rectangular cake pan and pop it in the oven, starting a timer for about 24 minutes. Seal up the rest of the taters in a zip-lock freezer bag and put it back in the freezer.

Step 2: Scrape the contents of a 10.5-ounce can of condensed cream-of-mushroom soup into a saucepan. Refill the can with milk and stir with intent to scrape the remaining bits of soup off the sides of the can, then add it to the pan.

Step 2a: Tear up about half of a 2.5-ounce jar of chipped (dried, sliced) beef into tiny pieces and stir them into the soup mixture.

Step 2b: Heat the soup slowly on a medium flame (or electric whatnot), turning the heat to low as soon as it starts getting simmery. Don't cover the pan. You just want to keep it warm until the taters are done.

Step 3: When the alarm goes off, take the taters out of the oven and use a plastic or wooden spoon to loosen them off the bottom of the pan.

Step 4: Drain a 15-ounce can of sweet peas and stir the peas into the soup mixture. Turn the heat back up towards medium and let it come back to a simmer.

Last step: Spoon the taters into a couple of soup bowls. Cover them with the mushroom soup-chipped beef-peas mixture and serve. A handful of saltines on the side make it just about perfect.

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