In my last post I told you the tale of how a girl named Yackity came to live on a yak farm in Canada. Although she was far from her home in Tibet, it was a fine life. Yackity learned how to grow many kinds of food and make delicious and healthy meals. But there was one dish that her mother had made for her, which was always her favorite… Sherpa’s pie.
We can imagine the life-ever-lasting Tibetans of the mythical Shangri-La baking Yackity’s one-dish dinner for their pampered guests. Its healthful ingredients likely held the key to their long lives.
Although it would be a shame if you had to toss the yak out of Yackity’s pie, not everybody is as fortunate as we are to have a yak farm down the road. Just substitute some other lean red meat… emu, beefalo, even pork (surprisingly lean these days). Try to stay away from beef, unless you can get grass-fed.
Check out this chart, and make up your own minds. See how the calories, cholesterol and fat are all so much lower for yak compared with beef?
Yak nutrition analysis provided by Midwest Laboratories, Inc., a USDA-Accredited Lab.
My last post explained why yak meat is so awesome. It’s a fascinating story even if there is no chance you will be able to buy any.
A healthier version of shepherd’s pie – serves 4 to 6
- 2 pounds sweet potatoes (I used a large purple-skinned sweet potato, which is white inside. Tibetans grow lots of potatoes, so use whatever kind of sweet potato you like.)
- 2 tablespoons real butter (yaks are a source of milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter for Tibetans)
- 1/4 cup milk (I always use skim)
- 1/4 cup raw barley (very Tibetan)
- 1 onion, diced (I used a leek – kids like the mild flavor)
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 1 pound ground yak meat
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (not very Tibetan, but it’s all I had…)
- 1 tablespoon flour
- salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup crumbled goats cheese (yak cheese isn’t commonly available…)
- Scrub the sweet potato and slice it into one-inch pieces. Boil until soft, then rinse in cold water. Take the skins off and mash with butter and a little milk. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the raw barley to 1 cup boiling water in a small pan on the stove. Cover and simmer 30 minutes or till tender. Add a 1/4 teaspoon salt the last 5 minutes.
- Peel and chop the carrot and garlic.
- Spray an oven-proof deep pie dish with oil.
- Heat the olive oil in a fry pan. Add the carrot and cook until soft. Add onion and garlic, and stir until onion gets limp. Remove to a plate.
- Add more oil to the pan, then add the yak and cook on medium heat until brown.
- Add cooked barley and flour. Put the cooked veggies back in the pan. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 5-10 minutes, or until thickened.
- Put the meat filling into the deep dish, then top with the mashed potatoes.
- Crumble the cheese over the potato crust. At this point you can refrigerate to serve later.
- To reheat, put the pie into a 350F oven. When the topping is brown and bubbly, the pie should be hot enough to serve – about 35 minutes.
If you can find yak meat where you live, what are you waiting for? Buy some. It’s good for you and so delicious. Even a kid would like this pie. The sweet potato and barley lend a delicate flavor to a dish already raised out of the ordinary with this unusual meat.
Yackity is ready to say goodbye. But before she leaves you, she would like share one other fascinating factoid: Chewbacca and the Wolf Man both wore costumes made of yak hair. How cool is that?