Deep in the dregs of my memory is a simple meal of honest ingredients: potatoes, meat, gravy. It was called buckshot and I imagine it as something served in crude clay bowls to men who had been working on the frontier, cajoling mules to plow a rock-strewn field, setting snares for small animals, and chopping down trees with a massive double-bladed axe. Buckshot went down easy and never met with any objection. Maybe it wasn’t the most flavorful or inventive but, like macaroni and cheese, was a guaranteed crowd-pleaser for me and my siblings. The premise is simple: in a mound of creamy mashed potatoes, form a deep crater and pour in a thick ground beef stew. Rivulets of gravy goodness run down the sides like runs of lava from an active volcano. Buckshot doesn’t require much imagination, cooking skill, or teeth. It’s warm, soft, and unobjectionable.
This weekend I decided to recreate my childhood dish. But, being a clever adult with good taste and reasonable kitchen skills, I would update it with an intermediate layer of peas, and some onions sautéed in butter. It would be a three-layer masterpiece, a buckshot for the ages! Imagine my confusion when I served up this wholesome all-American dish for dinner, sat down, and discovered that a dog had gotten sick all over my plate. If I were a special-effects propmaster I couldn’t have recreated fresh vomit with higher fidelity. If your stomach is already feeling queasy, please don’t scroll down. I apologize to my ancestors for desecrating the memory of buckshot, and we will never speak of this again.