Last night I went to the Brooklyn Kitchen's Anniversary Party at Union Pool. There was live music, tasty treats and lots of fun people. And a cooking challenge! The idea was to make a thanksgiving side dish for under $20 using only ingredients that can be purchased from your average bodega (corner store.) I came up with the idea of making Shepherd's Pie but with Thanksgiving-y fillings. On my first trip to the bodega - the 5-11 on Lorimer in Williamsburg, I bought instant potatoes, canned veggies, turkey gravy, deli turkey - sliced thick, milk, butter, chicken stock, and my flash of seasoning inspiration - onion soup mix. I thought that making the potatoes with stock and soup mix would make up for the fact that they were rehydrated flakes. NOT. Nope. Didn't work. And the extra money that I spent on the stock meant not enough meat and veggies. The finished dish was mostly potatoes and really boring. So the next day, I went out to shop for round two. This time I went to my local bodega: Shop Smart on Marcy. This was a real bona fide bodega according to the Brooklyn Kitchen's Bodega Qualifying Quiz. And I have photographic proof:
Those are my potatoes on the counter. Here's another:
This place was cheaper than the one in Williamsburg, so I was able to add stuffing to my list of ingredients, (yes, Stovetop,) and the real potatoes were only $.80, saving money over the box of instant that made way more than necessary. I bought two cans of veggies and two really big, thick slices of deli turkey. My total was $19.95.
When I arrived with my dish, they had me pose for a picture:
Ready for the judges!:
After some live music and mingling, the judges were brought up to the stage with the referee who had interviewed all the contestants. The judges commented on each dish as they did their tasting and took notes. It was fun and silly. There were some really odd dishes like baked fondue and potato chips au gratin. The judges had pretty good things to say about my dish: "I hate canned peas, but you made it work!" Camille Becerra, chef/owner of the restaurant Paloma, and a Top Chef Season 3 contestant.
More mingling and several Stoli Orange and 7's later, the awards were presented. The suspense was over quickly, as I was announced as the first winner, coming in with 3rd place honors:
My prize was great: a PINK french press and a pound of Gimme! Coffee. The 2nd place went to the pumpkin spiced soup, made by the lovely and talented Ruthy, and 1st was by Sarah, who made something called Pumpkin Gobble Gobble: check it out on Brooklyn Kitchen's blog.
Several people brought cakes to celebrate BK's 1st year anniversary:
They were delicious!! Thanks to The Brooklyn Kitchen for a really fun and lively event and congratulations on your first year!
Here's the recipe for my Thanksgiving Shepard's Bodega Pie. As the referee commented about my dish, this recipe would be a good use of leftovers from your holiday meal.
Recipe: THANKSGIVING SHEPHERD’S BODEGA PIE
7-8 tablespoons butter
4 medium russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 cup whole milk
1 onion, diced
2-3 thick slices of deli turkey, cubed
1 can corn, drained
1 can peas & carrots, drained
1 package soup mix
1 box stuffing mix
1 can turkey gravy
4 slices yellow American cheese (optional)
1 bag ruffled potato chips, crushed (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
1. Boil potatoes gently until tender.
2. Make stuffing according to package directions, set aside when finished.
3. Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add turkey and sauté for 3-4 more minutes. Add vegetables, 2 tablespoons of soup mix and 1/2 cup of water. Simmer until mixture is moist but not too juicy.
4. Mash potatoes with 4-5 tablespoons butter, milk, and 2-3 tablespoons soup mix to taste.
5. Pour the turkey and vegetable mixture into a 9x13” glass baking dish. Layer 1/2 of the gravy over top. Add stuffing. Top with the rest of the gravy. Finish with mashed potatoes.
4. Bake for 20 minutes, add crushed chips and/or cheese as desired. Bake another 5-10 minutes until top is browned. Use broiler if necessary.