Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Winter Vegetable Shepherd's Pie

I picked up the final box from my winter CSA last week, so I have a bounty of vegetables that will last me clear into the new year. With so many vegetables to use up, I couldn't have asked for a more perfect recipe. This shepherd's pie is incredibly flavorful and hearty and was the perfect dinner on a snowy Monday evening. This is also a great entree to serve at a holiday dinner or winter dinner party with vegetarian guests and could easily be made vegan by substituting olive oil for butter when cooking the vegetables and a vegan shortening (like Earth Balance) for the butter in the mashed potatoes. But if you're like me and can't get enough dairy in your life, top the mashed potatoes with shredded cheese before putting it under the broiler.

The combination of vegetables are endless; I used Kennebec potatoes, one red onion and one yellow onion, parsnips, celeriac, and carrots, though I can think of many other wonderful combinations. My favorite brand of broth is Pacific Natural Foods, and I used their organic free range chicken broth, but their vegetable and mushroom broths would also make excellent choices. In general I prefer to use low-sodium commercial broths or stocks so I can adjust the salt level myself. Anytime a recipe calls for prepared broth and salt it is advisable to add less than full amount the recipe calls for to start because the saltiness of commercial broths and stocks varies widely.

Not only does this make a fantastic dinner, but the leftovers are absolutely superb the next day. While the texture is best fresh out the oven since the potato topping is nice and crispy, the flavors are even more developed.

Winter Vegetable Shepherd's Pie
adapted from Food and Wine
serves 4 to 6

2 pounds baking potatoes (about 4), peeled and cut into large pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1/2 cup milk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large onions, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
4 cups sliced mixed winter vegetables, such as celery, turnips, Brussels sprouts, parsnips, fennel, cabbage, or celery root
2 carrots, sliced
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
3 cups canned low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth or homemade stock

1. Put the potatoes in a medium saucepan of salted water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and put them back into the saucepan along with 1 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Mash the potatoes over very low heat, gradually incorporating the cream and 4 tablespoons of the butter. Cover and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over moderately low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the sliced mixed vegetables, carrots, thyme, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Mix well.

3. Stir in the broth and bring to a simmer. Cook over moderate heat, covered, until the vegetables start to soften, 5 to 10 minutes. Uncover, increase the heat to moderately high, and cook until the vegetables are tender and almost no liquid remains in the pan, about 10 minutes longer.

4. Heat the broiler. Transfer the vegetables to a 9-inch pie plate, spread the potatoes over the top, and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

1 comment:

  1. Ooohw! A chunky veg Shepherd's Pie. A welcomed variation from the standard recipe.