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Hot or not?

Were some dishes made to be spicy and others not?
Excluding ketchup, what condiment(s) would go well on a shepherd's pie? Granted, we can do whatever we want but, If a recipe doesn't call for a spicy ingredient, does using one ruin the dish?
For example, I bought a pre-made shepherd's pie at Costco the other day and although it was quite good, I thought about adding a little something to give it a little zip but couldn't decide what.

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  1. Perhaps an acid like vinegar of some sorts? Or a spicy infusion of herbs, red wine , and butter?

    4 Replies
    1. re: Raffles

      I try to avoid things to vinegary such as tabasco but your infusion idea sounds great. I was thinking more along the lines of srirachi, habanero or piquin sauces.

      1. re: mucho gordo

        I was thinking more of a malt vinegar or even a balsamic...

        1. re: mucho gordo

          Mucho, sometime you might try any of the El Yucateco or Melinda sauces, which do not have vinegar.

          1. re: Veggo

            I don't think I've seen that brand. I'm using Zaaschila brand piquin and habanero as well as Castillo brand habanero. Neither have vinegar. Also using a great habanero/roasted pineapple salsa.

      2. As I write this I'm braising some turkey tails. They cook in water, soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, bay leaves and black pepper. I've done them several times and they were great. Today I decided to add a couple of chopped chipotles in adobo. Does that answer your question :)

        8 Replies
        1. re: c oliver

          After you've tasted the "NEW; IMPROVED" concoction, let me know if hot is better than not

          1. re: mucho gordo

            Will do! It's about 2.5# of 'butts' and a cup of liquid so I'm not expecting a gigantic amount of heat. But I seem to have a pretty high tolerance, esp. for chipotles.

            1. re: c oliver

              I put the 'jus' in the fridge overnight, removed the HUGE amount of fat. Then heated just a few swallows. The two chipotles in two cups of liquid are undetectable. But with the vinegar and soy sauce I'm not really surprised.

          2. re: c oliver

            "Popes Nose" braise? Where do you get those tails?

            1. re: Gastronomos

              Here's the thread:

              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/927943

              I have a Latino market that seems to always have them.

            2. re: c oliver

              You and the turkey tails, cracks me up every time. I'm so glad you found them, it's a true love affair :)

              1. re: fldhkybnva

                Ya know, it kinda cracks us up also :) Who'd a thunk?!?!?

            3. From day one, I have overdosed the black pepper in my Shepherds Pie; after the initial accolades I never though to experiment further. That's all it needs, black pepper to taste. If you want my entire recipe, just let me know. It's that time of year!

              12 Replies
              1. re: coll

                coll, you're right. black pepper indeed!

                But, for us today, we either don't know or have forgotten that until recent modern times, black pepper was not readily available around the globe and if it was attainable it was very expensive.. perhaps a bit over the budget of a 'shepherd' .

                I add black pepper to crème brulee... and fruit salad...

                1. re: Gastronomos

                  I've not traveled to all of Latin America, but where we've been there's never been black pepper in restaurants. We travel with it or buy a small shaker of it.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    But we're talking about Ireland here, not South America. Are we not? What does Shepherds Pie have to do with Latin America?

                    I also don't consider it an ancient dish, before the time of common spices. It was more medieval, which is when they were into highly spiced dishes, actually.

                    1. re: coll

                      You may note that I was replying to Gastronomos:

                      "black pepper was not readily available around the globe and if it was attainable it was very expensive.."

                      1. re: c oliver

                        I thought this was a group discussion? However you were the one that is bringing Latin America into the mix, for some odd reason.

                        1. re: coll

                          Definitely. G is talking about global. That's what I replied to.

                          1. re: c oliver

                            I'm trying to stay on topic and respond to the OP.

                              1. re: coll

                                hi coll,

                                You've got me on the ropes! LOL I re-read the OP. It says:
                                <For example, I bought a pre-made shepherd's pie at Costco the other day and although it was quite good, I thought about adding a little something to give it a little zip but couldn't decide what.>

                                So my response about adding different types of pepper was not totally OT!!! I would, if I had to, add horseradish sauce. But I don't always have that in my house. OTH, I always have the three types of pepper. When in doubt, I add pepper!

                                1. re: MrsPatmore

                                  You're not OT MrsPatmore, you are just riffing and I love that in a poster ;-) I'm just sort of a traditionalist when it comes to Shepherds Pie myself.

                  2. re: coll

                    Coarse ground black pepper is a given. I don't eat without it.

                  3. I would try chutney, hot mustard, or horseradish with a shepherd's pie.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Tara57

                      Hot mustard or horseradish sauce sounds like it might be worth a try. I was also thinking of melting some pepper jack cheese on top.

                    2. I'm thinking horseradish sauce. But honestly, when preparing (homemade) shepherd's pie or similar, I like to use a trio of pepper: black, white and red.

                      < If a recipe doesn't call for a spicy ingredient, does using one ruin the dish? >

                      Absolutely not, IMHO. I routinely use black, white and red pepper in cooking - even if the *original* recipe doesn't include all three. As gastronomous mentioned, historically, lack of access to pepper was an issue. Thank goodness for Penzeys!