Shameless Chef

The Shameless Chef: DIY Shepherd's Pie

Welcome to the first installment of The Shameless Chef, a new feature that will provide simple, hearty, creative recipes for the average person. Because, let's face it, real cooking is not for normal people. Real cooking requires difficult-to-come-by things such as "knowledge" and "ingredients." It frequently features confusing directions, like, "While whisking the wastrel flange into a simmering fervor, interpolate 1/8th of a smidge of mustard-pepper cumin. DO NOT OVER-INTERPOLATE." There's not going to be any of that here. The recipes will be straightforward, centered on pre-packaged ingredients even the laziest of assholes can easily assemble.

You'll only need four ingredients for our first dish, a Do It Yourself Shepherd's Pie. They are:

- 1 package mashed potatoes - 1 package seasoned beef tips in gravy - Bisquick - Milk

We have chosen the "Heart Smart" brand of Bisquick; however, you are free to use a more cardiologically stupid variation if you so desire. We also used 1 percent milk, because skim milk is essentially water, and should be banned by the FDA for misleading labeling.

First, dump the mashed potatoes into some kind of cooking dish. We used an 8-by-11-inch glass casserole dish with a no-stick spray. Next, spread the potatoes over the entire bottom of the dish.

Now put in the beef tips, spreading them out on top of the potatoes.

Following that, mix 2 cups of Bisquick with between 2/3 and 1 cup of milk, depending on how runny / thick you like your batter. Mix it; you can whip it pretty easily with a spoon or a fork right there in the measuring cup, we won't tell anybody. If you've got dry powder left, add a little more milk. Once you've got a decent wad of batter, start smoothing it over the beef tips and potatoes until you've got a relatively even layer on top.

Now set your oven to bake at 450 degrees, and put the dish on a middle-ish rack for about 10 minutes (closer to 6 or 7 if you remembered to pre-heat the oven, like we didn't). Once the crust turns golden-brown, you can take it out. Don't be afraid to take it out a little early if you get nervous or if your oven has a habit of burning things: All your ingredients are pre-cooked except for the Bisquick, which doesn't contain anything that can poison you.

Allow it to cool for a little while, and you're good to go.

We suppose you could also add in some diced vegetables for a more authentic Shepherd's Pie, if you want to be one of those people.

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John Seaborn Gray