Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Chocolate Shepherd's Pie - We Should Cocoa 18

Well this may not bear much resemblance to shepherds pie as most know it - it is vegetarian after all - but it's what I call shepherds pie. Normally I make this with lentils, but I thought I'd try a version using Quorn mince this time instead as I happened to have some languishing in the freezer. I was also keen to incorporate chocolate, as this month's We Should Cocoa challenge was to make a savoury vegetarian dish and I thought chocolate would give an added depth of flavour to a much loved (by me at any rate) dish.

This is what I did:
  • Scrubbed some of our Sarpo potatoes.
  • Placed in a pan with a large clove of garlic and boiled until soft.
  • Drained off the water and mashed with some sour cream and 1/8 tsp sea salt.
  • Put a glug of olive oil into a large pan.
  • Threw in 1 large onion - chopped.
  • Diced 3 large carrots and put those in too.
  • Added a few sprigs of thyme, a couple of bay leaves and 3 Cornish pepper leaves.
  • Fried until the onion was soft.
  • Added two large cloves of garlic - chopped & a 1/4 tsp dried thyme.
  • Threw in 300g Quorn mince, rather more frozen sweetcorn than I intended as my hand slipped when adding it to the pan and a tin of mixed beans.
  • Ground in some black pepper, added some shoyu and a pinch of sea salt.
  • Left to simmer with the lid on for 20 minutes.
  • Took off the heat.
  • Added 40g 70% dark chocolate (G&B) and left to melt.
  • Buttered a casserole dish and spooned in the mince.
  • Spread the mashed potato over the top and dotted with small pieces of butter.
  • Baked at 180C for 30 minutes until bubbling and nicely browned on top.
The photographs are not great: firstly it was dark and secondly, it's just hard to make brown mush look really appealing in a photograph. It was, in actuality though, very appealing. The Quorn mince worked well, although I think I prefer my lentil version. I was absolutely right about the addition of chocolate though. It made this savoury dish, somehow even more savoury. Does chocolate, perhaps, contain that elusive umami flavour? It also gave a nice rich brown colour to the gravy and had a thickening effect too. This is perfect winter fare and I shall be using chocolate in my shepherd's pies from now on in.

For further inspiration - or not - here are some other chocolate savoury posts I've done:

39 comments:

  1. Wow that’s not something I would have thought of doing...must give it a try myself next time!

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  2. Ha ha, if it hadn't been for the challenge I set, I probably wouldn't have thought of doing it either. I thought it would be good, but it was even better than I was expecting.

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  3. well it looks 'interesting' to say the least!... I know that chocolate works well with really rich meats so its nice to learn that it works with the quorn too... I have REALLY been struggling but I have finally come up with a solution that hits both the vegetarian and meat lover in me... a very crafty challenge miss C!

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    1. Dom, I do try :-D Glad you've managed to find something that won't upset me too much!

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  4. This sounds really good, although I don't tend to use meat subsititutes so would probably prefer the lentil version... will have to give it a try!

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    1. Oh I do agree with you Natalie - it's quite rare for me to use quorn. Just like to try it out from time to time to remind myself what it's all about.

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  5. You've made my mouth water reading this - and I've already eaten my breakfast! Think I know what we'll be having for dinner tonight.

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  6. Looks lovely - and inspired! I love this theme and have been mulling over a dish I want to make (hope white chocolate counts) but am struggling for some time and energy - I am really looking forward to the round up as I think chocolate is great as a flavouring as well as a flavour

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    1. Oh I do hope you manage it Johanna. I know you will come up with something interesting. White chocolate is fine, as is cocoa, milk chocolate or dark.

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    2. Phew! Well I have made the dish tonight and now just need to get it written up - am on my way :-) With white chocolate!

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  7. I do agree with you about the chocolate adding another dimension to a savoury dish. I am with you on this and may use it more often now. I do like a veggie shepherd's pie but prefer your idea of a lentil base as I am not a fan of Quorn mince. I find it really dry & doesn't absorb flavours as well as pulses do.
    Have really enjoyed this challenge!!

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    1. This was a good challenge for me too Laura. i keep meaning to try chocolate more in savoury dishes, but usually get sucked into the tried and tested.

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  8. That's genius - I never thought of adding chocolate to my veggie shepherd's pie, but I'm guessing it would lend a rich flavor even without quorn or lentils (I don't use either, just a rich gravy sauce and mushrooms). I love this idea and thanks for sharing!

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    1. Oh now, mushrooms sound really good.

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  9. Sounds so yummy. I used Quorn during the BSE scare for burgers, but think I'd prefer the lentils you suggest. Jude x

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    1. Thanks Jude. It looks as though lentils are winning over quorn!

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  10. That is SUCH a great idea Choclette, and I would try that out when I next make a quorn dish! I bet it adds a real depth of flavour, a GREAT idea for your very challenging but fun theme!
    Karen

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    1. Thanks Karen. It has been fun seeing what people are coming up with - lots of good ideas.

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  11. Brilliant idea! I'm glad the chocolate worked with the quorn. I've tried chocolate with beef or chicken previously (not cooked by me!) and it worked really well. The chocolate added a depth to the flavour and colour but not a true chocolate taste. I've also seen a lot of celebrity chefs make chocolate chilli con carne. Thanks for hosting a great challenge as always, look forward to reading the round up.

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    1. You're right, you can't really taste the chocolate, it's just that added depth of flavour and richness it gives that makes it interesting.

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  12. I love how creative you are in adding the chocolate! You have a wonderful blog. In our house I try to keep food as organic and sustainable as possible! I am excited to peek around your blog! Have a wonderful week!

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    1. Thanks for your kind comment Serena and for visiting. Hope to see you again.

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  13. Sounds great & looks tasty too! How amazing what we can do with chocolates! Great challenge & I had fun doing mine too! Looking forward to see the round up for more recipes! :)

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    1. Thank you. So pleased to hear you've joined in the challenge. I haven't checked out the entries yet.

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  14. Wow I never would have thought of adding chocolate to a Shepard's Pie - might try that sometime. I made a quorn version before too, it was nice enough but don't think I'd make it again! Yours looks very nice!

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    1. Yes, quorn is good for bulk, but not really the nicest thing to use. Do try adding chocolate, it would be interesting to hear what you think.

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  15. Great idea - I don't think I've ever made a non-meat shepherd's pie. This is a tricky challenge - I'll get my entry in very soon.

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    1. And there was me thinking you'd find this one a breeze Phil!

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  16. Glad it's not just me who's hand sometimes slips!

    Sounds like Chocolate worked well in this - Quorn seems to need something to give it a bit of taste.

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    1. Yes, quorn is a bit of a strange beast - err, perhaps beast isn't quite the right word!

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  17. I put too much cocoa powder in my chilli the other day and it was bit of a disaster! This sounds great though, I may be inspired to have another go!

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    1. Oh what a shame Sarah, do hope you try again and have better luck. It's one of those things that is quite hard to judge.

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  18. Well, it certainly sounds interesting! I think I'd prefer the lentil version, but I can imagine that the chocolate added a depth. This round up is going to be really interesting!

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  19. Well, if you do, let me know what you think.

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  20. Thanks for dropping by. Pleased to discover your blog, chocoholics paradise. Never would have imagined shephards pie with chocolate.

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    1. Thank you. I'm really glad that it worked. Will be trying it with lentils next time I make shepherd's pie.

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