Monday, November 16, 2009

shepherd's pie

The weekend has come and gone and, with the exception of a few glitches (including an in accessible lightbulb burnout), everything went smoothly...

By 2p on Saturday, I'd decided to go with the shepherd's pie. It was a rainy day, and seemed fitting for the late-evening meal. The filling of the pie would be root vegetables, mushrooms and homemade seitan in a deep, red wine sauce, and the whole thing would be topped with a puree of Yukon Gold potatoes and celery root, broiled in the oven until golden. The recipe, adapted from one found in Gourmet, was time-consuming, clocking in at over four hours start to finish, and dirtied nearly every dish, bowl and pot in my kitchen. But, oh, was it worth it. I'm not normally self-congratulatory, but this dish was incredible. The stew was rich and dense and aromatic... it was downright seductive. The celery root mixed with the potatoes added a brightness to the topping, and provided a contrasting note to depth of the vegetables and wine. When you find yourself with spoiled plans on a rainy Saturday, or nervously anticipating a few overnight guests, put in the time and give this a shot. It won't disappoint.

Shepherd's Pie

Recipe adapted from Gourmet

for the filling
olive oil
1.5 lbs seitan, sliced thin and patted dry
3 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), halved lengthwise and sliced 1/2" thick
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 medium carrots, chopped
1 lb cremini mushrooms, quartered
4 medium parsnips, chopped
2 tbs thyme leaves
1 tbs rosemary, chopped
1 bottle red wine (I used Merlot, though something full-bodied is recommended)
3 tbs Earth Balance, softened
3 tbs flour
3.5 c hot vegetable stock
1/2 c chopped fresh parsley

for the topping
2.5 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes
1 medium celery root (celeriac), peeled and chopped into 1" pieces
4 tbs Earth Balance
1 c soy milk

Heat a moderate amount of oil in a large soup pot and brown the seitan in three batches, for 3 to 5 minutes, adding oil between each batch. Transfer to a plate.

Add leeks to the pot with some more oil and cook covered, with a 1/4 tsp of salt, for about 6 minutes until soft. Add garlic and cook until golden and fragrant.

Add mushrooms and a 1/2 tsp of salt and cook, covered, until the mushrooms begin to give off liquid. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Add carrots, parsnips, thyme, rosemary, and stir. Cook, covered, until vegetables are just tender. (About ten minutes.) Transfer to a bowl.

Add wine to deglaze the pot and boil until it's reduced to about 1 cup (10/15 minutes). While the wine is reducing, stir together the Earth Balance and flour to form a paste. Once the wine has reduced, add the stock and bring to a simmer. Add the EB/flour mixture, simmer, and stir occasionally for a few minutes until it all thickens. Add the vegetables and seitan, stir, and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Then, remove from heat and stir in the parsley.

Almost done! While the stew simmers, peel and chop the potatoes and celery root. Boil them in a large pot until very tender. Reserve 1/2 c of the cooking water, and drain.

Bring the margarine and soy milk to a simmer in a pot until the margarine melts completely. Stir in the cooking liquid, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Remove from heat and mash potatoes and celery root into the mixture, until smooth and well-combined. Stir well.

FINISH! Preheat the broiler. Pour the stew into a large casserole dish or cast-iron skillet (I used the cast-iron). Top with the potato mixture and spread evenly. Broil for a few minutes, watching carefully so that it doesn't burn, until the top is golden and crispy.

Serve and enjoy.

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