I usually like to get my Meatless Monday posts up on the blog early Monday morning, but you’ll have to forgive me today for being a little late, as Trader Joe’s just opened in Omaha. I had to be there. To say that this was a euphorically momentous day for me, might even be an understatement. You can read about that here.
But it’s Meatless Monday and I’m really excited about sharing this recipe with you. Here at the Circle B Kitchen we love shepherd’s pie. You, know, that hearty, meaty stew topped with creamy mashed potatoes. But you could top anything with creamy mashed potatoes and I’d be all over it.
This recipe came to me via my GoodFood podcast in which Aida Mollencamp was being interviewed about vegetarian side dishes that could also be served as a main course for Thanksgiving. She began to describe this shepherd’s pie she makes that uses meaty mushrooms and fresh sage and thyme and yes, it's topped with creamy mashed potatoes. Like I said, I was all over it. Geez, was it good.
You could use any kind of mushrooms you like, but we really liked the big chunks of portobellos and criminis. I also used dried porcinis which gave this a wonderfully earthy flavor.
There’s no doubt this would be a great dish to serve your vegetarian guests at Thanksgiving. You could easily make this several days ahead and just re-warm it before serving. The flavors just get better as it sits. But this isn't just for vegetarians. No, sir. This is one hearty, stick-to-your ribs dish that your meat-eating carnivores will love too. I know this to be true.
Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie
Adapted from a recipe by Aida Mollenkamp
1 cup very hot water
1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
1/3 cup red wine
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
3 lbs russet potatoes, peeled, and cut into large dice
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 portobello mushroom caps, wiped clean and chunked or sliced
1 lb cremini mushrooms, stemmed and halved
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
5 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves
1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
2/3 cup whole milk
Place the dried porcinis in the hot water and let sit for about 30 minutes. Strain the mushrooms out (reserve) and whisk in the wine, tomato paste and flour until evenly combined and smooth.
Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with heavily salted water by 2 inches. Bring potatoes to a boil and cook until fork tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.Heat the oven on broil and place a rack in the upper third.
Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a 3 to 4-quart Dutch oven (or oven-ready saucepan) over medium-high heat. When it foams, add half the mushrooms and cook, stirring rarely, until mushrooms are browned, about 5 minutes. Remove mushrooms from pan, season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and set aside. Repeat to cook off remaining mushrooms.
Return pan to stove over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of the butter, onion, and garlic, and cook until softened and golden, about 2 minutes. Add the herbs, and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the wine mixture to the pan and deglaze by stirring and scraping up any browned bits.
Let cook until simmering and slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in reserved mushrooms and any juices that have accumulated and simmer until slightly thickened, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and reserve in pan.
When potatoes are ready, drain well. Return to pan and mash until uniformly smooth. Fold in remaining 2 tablespoons butter and milk, and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. If necessary, keep warm over low heat.
Dot potatoes over the mushroom mixture and spread to edges of pan to cover completely. Rough up the surface of the potatoes so there are bits that will get browned and crunchy. Bake until top is golden, about 15 to 20 minutes.