I really love my meat CSA, but one challenge it presents is finding new things to do with all the ground meat. We get five pounds a month, usually 3 pounds of beef and 2 of something else. There are only so many burgers and chili that I can possibly eat. When I picked up my December shipment last week and tried to cram it all in my freezer full of meat, frozen cooking projects, and limoncello, I realized I was really far behind. So I did an inventory and discovered I had about twelve pounds of ground meat in there, including seven of beef. Oof. Time to start using it.
Back in April, I made a Shepherd’s Pie with Spring Vegetables. It was really good, and I made it a lot over the summer, often adding sweet summer corn into the vegetable mix. I figured just because peas and carrots were no longer in season, there had to be a way to still make this. So, I ventured off to the farmers’ market last weekend and basically bought one of everything, chopped it up, and threw it in my Shepherd’s Pie with Winter Vegetables. And it was to die for. It might even be better than the spring one, because while fresh peas are pretty delicious, nothing beats mashed sweet potato.
This is a pretty flexible recipe. Nothing technical about it. Everything in this is local – the meat is from Marin Sun Farms, the produce from the farmers market, dairy from Clover Stornetta, and the dollop of honey is from some dude in Oakland, who apparently sells his honey at my grocery store. Who knew?
Shepherd’s Pie with Winter Vegetables
2 pounds ground meat (I used beef)
2 onions, thinly sliced
6 cups diced root vegetables (I used a mix of carrots, parsnip, celery root, and turnip)
lots of mashed sweet potato (I baked about 5 big ones)
2 cups of diced Brussel sprouts
a few tablespoons minced woody herbs, like rosemary, thyme, and sage.
Bake the sweet potatoes until they are soft. Mash them up with a good pat of butter, salt and pepper, a splash of cream, and a good dollop of honey. The honey really made these things, especially since the vegetables had some bitterness in them.
Preheat the oven to 400.
In a big saute pan, heat up some butter or oil over medium heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and pepper. Slowly saute until they turn golden brown, about 12-15 minutes. Add the root vegetables and saute those. You may need to add a splash of water to deglaze the pan if it starts to look like it’s going to burn. When the vegetables start to soften up a bit, you add the meat. If your pan is not big enough (mine wasn’t), just dump them out and add the meat. Brown it, add the herbs, then add the Brussel sprouts. Stir together and add to the root vegetables.
In a deep baking dish, add the meat and vegetables and spread it out. Then start adding the mashed sweet potatoes on top and spread those out.
Stick it in the oven and bake for about 20-30 minutes. If you want your potatoes brown and carmelized on top (who doesn’t?), finish it off in the broiler for a few minutes. Cut up and serve.