In 2010, one in seven families was food insecure, the highest number ever recorded in the United States. In Pottstown, Pennsylvania, volunteers gather five days a week to serve free, hot meals to those in need. This is just one of the wonderful programs provided by the Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities.
Although I have helped for the past year, this was my first time preparing the meal. Ground beef, veggies and potatoes were available so I knew right away that I was going to make shepherd's pie, a first for me.
With help from my wonderful husband (♥), we browned the ground beef, added chopped onions and made gravy using Better Than Bouillon (magical stuff - I bought it at Costco - try it, really). We then mixed the meat, veggies and gravy together, and divided it between two ginormous pans. Then it was time to top both pans with mashed potatoes, and VOILA! Shepherd's pie. Oh, and I find that writing the oven temperature and internal cooking temperature on my hand with a Sharpie to be most helpful. ;)
SHEPHERD'S PIE FOR 100
Makes two 20¾” x 12¾” x 4” pans
20 lbs. ground beef, no more than 24% fat
3 lbs. onions, diced
13 lbs. canned mixed vegetables, drained and rinsed
16 cups water, divided
1 cup Better Than Bouillon
1 ¾ cups cornstarch
1 ½ Tbsp. dried thyme
1 ½ Tbsp. onion salt
1 ½ Tbsp. ground black better
1 ½ Tbsp. salt
6 cups margarine
56 cups water
26 cups milk
7 lbs. instant mashed potatoes (we used 8 boxes that were 13.75 oz. each)
- Brown ground beef in large skillet (we had to cook it in four different batches using a 14” nonstick skillet. Add onions to ground beef during the last five minutes of cooking. Drain fat and discard.
- Drain and rinse canned mixed vegetables. Combine half of the meat and veggies in one huge bowl, and the other half of the meat and veggies in a second huge bowl. (*we didn’t have a bowl that was large enough to accommodate everything, which is why we divided it)
- Bring 14 cups water to a boil. Add Better Than Boullion. Stir. Combine cornstarch with remaining 2 cups cold water in a bowl. Slowly add cornstarch mixture to beef stock, stirring constantly. Reheat to a boil.
- Add thyme, onion salt, black pepper and salt to cornstarch gravy.
- Add half the gravy to the first bowl of meat/veggies, and the other half to the second meat/veggie bowl. Mix well.
- Spread meat/veggie/gravy mixture into two 20¾” x 12¾” x 4” pans aluminum pans.
- Prepare instant mashed potatoes according to the directions on the box. We made two 13.75 oz. boxes at a time (4 boxes to a pan). Spread half of the mashed potatoes over the ground beef mixture in each pan.
We made the meat/veggie/gravy mixture the day before and refrigerated both pans. On the morning of the Community Meal, we whipped up the potatoes.
Place each pan on a large baking sheet for support. Cook covered with aluminum foil at 450° for 2 hours, removing foil last 30 minutes so that potatoes will brown.
The shepherd's pie was a huge success! We started with approximately 50 lbs. and there were no leftovers.
Feeding those in need would not be possible without the help of volunteers.
Because it is the Presidents' Day holiday, we had many teen volunteers. I would especially like to thank the students from Pottsgrove High School who spent their day off from school rolling silverware, pouring drinks, serving food, making coffee and tea, helping children and the disabled carry their trays through the line and cleaning tables following the meal. Today's volunteers included members of the Key Club and the Girl Scouts, as well as parishioners of Christ Episcopal Church. Thank you BIG TIME! ♥
Big thanks go to Christ Episcopal Church for so generously allowing us to use their space every Monday to serve hot meals to those in need. Christ Episcopal also hosted the homeless every night, overnight, for the months of November and December of 2011. Wow! ♥
No one should go hungry. Period. YOU CAN HELP! In the Pottstown area, the Cluster needs you. Click HERE for information on how you can sign up to help those in need.
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