February has been cold here in New England so far. The world is crispy dry and hard and the roads are white with salt. Its not pretty.
This calls for some comfort food. Something cooked long and slow, that warms us up from the insides. Healthy and nourishing, something more than a thin veggie soup.
Melissa Roberts' recipe on Epicurious, I liked her mix of vegetables; parsnips and leeks are always a big hit with my family. And all that wine that she adds. Sylvia Foutaine's Feasting at Home has such pretty sunny photos, and I like the way she cooks the gravy separately and adds miso for flavor.
I blended my favorite thoughts from both, and here we have my new Favorite Shepherds Pie, for three days of leftovers I got to hear "wow, mmm, this is so crazy good!" Happyness :D
This filled an enormous 16" casserole dish, feel free to swap out veggies for more or less, as it is just a suggestion!
1 1/2 lb Button Mushrooms, sliced. (or 2 boxes)
4 Leeks, halved washed and sliced thin
5 Carrots, peeled and large diced
5 Parsnips, peeled and large diced
2 large purple-top Turnips, (peeled/ diced)
2 Sweet Potatoes /Yams (peeled/diced)
3 garlic cloves, crushed and sliced
2 tsp Thyme
1 Tbs Rosemary - dried is ok.
-Cooked Lentils (see recipe here)
1 carton Mushroom Stock (or veggie)
3 Tbs Flour (or other starch)
1 T miso paste
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
-Mashed Potato Top
5 Russet potatoes
Soy Milk (or other milk replacement, or milk if you like it)
In a heavy bottomed soup pan, heat olive oil, add mushrooms and cook until they are cooked (small and have released most of their moisture.) I find a small bit of salt helps the mushrooms cook faster.
Add leeks and cook until soft. Stir leeks often so they dont burn. Their sugar content is high and they scorch easily!
Dump in all the diced veggies garlic and herbs! Stir up, add 2 cups of mushroom stock, salt and peper, cover the pot halfway and simmer until veggies are tender. (About 20 minutes) Stir occasionally!
When all tender, scoop the veggies out of the pot, leaving any liquid behind (we will use it in a second!) Use a nice big casserole dish to fit everything, spread vegetables out evenly. Scoop your cooked lentils on top, and make an even layer of them.
Here comes the wine-gravy-fun! Add about 2 cups of red wine to the leftover liquid in the soup pot. Cook on high heat to reduce you wine till it is real thick and syrupy. I almost burnt mine because I was trying to get ahead on dish washing at the wrong time! This does take 5 - 10 min of boiling depending on how much liquid you have.
Add the rest of your stock, and 3 Tbs of flour (or other starch if you prefer) Stir well so all the lumps of flour are gone. Bring to a boil, and use a spoon the scrape the bottom for 3 - 5 min to cook out the taste of the raw flour. It will get thick and the bubbles will be slow and big. Add the Miso paste and a splash of vinegar. Now you are done! The wine gravy gets poured all over the veggie layers. make sure it soaks down inside!
No rush, did you cook the potatoes yet for the mashed topping? Peel and cube 5 Russet potatoes. Place in a pot with cold water to cover and plenty of salt (the secret!) Boil till tender, drain the potatoes, return to the hot pot, add a generous glug of olive oil, some soy-milk of your choice, and mash those potatoes - if too dry add hot water, or more "milk".
Use a piping bag with a big star tip for the prettiest table presentation of your potatoes.
This will keep well just as is, so if you are preparing the meal ahead of time this would be the point to get to. When you are ready to bake it - 350° oven for 40 min. Till it is hot through. My topping needed a little more browning so I watched it under the broiler for a hot minute!
Serve with a light salad, red wine, warm bread, candles and a roaring fireplace.
p.s. Leftovers with a fried egg on top were awesome!