Posts Tagged ‘Carrots’

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.

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I decided to participate in the 3rd Annual Dark Days of Winter Eat Local Challenge organized by (not so) Urban Hennery.  The challenge is to cook one meal each week focused on SOLE (sustainable, organic, local, ethical) ingredients and blog about it.  I read Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle a few months ago and have been looking for ways to incorporate more local food into my diet.  Because I live in a pretty fantastic part of the country for agriculture and food, I don’t really have an excuse to be eating stuff that’s been flown in from around the world.  Aiming to cook and eat local one night a week is a fairly reasonable goal.

I found out about the challenge a week into it, and with Thanksgiving prep, I didn’t have enough time to do a proper search for locally grown supplies.  And with all the leftovers, I couldn’t justify buying more food.  That said, I’m pleased to say that I’ve created a dish using only a couple non-local things, namely flour and baking powder, and possibly one other non-local ingredient which I’ll get to in a minute.  I hope to find some locally milled flour for future challenges, but for the time being, this is what I’ve got.

For my Turkey Pot Pie, I used leftover Thanksgiving turkey, which came from a farm in Sonoma.  The butter and cream are from Clover Stornetta farms, also based in Sonoma.  I made the turkey stock from the turkey carcass.  And all vegetables and herbs in the dish come from the farmers market, with the exception of the parsnip.  I had bought a few to mix in with my mashed potatoes, and had a giant one left.  For some reason, I can’t seem to find parsnips here at the farmers market so I resorted to the grocery store.  My grocery store sucks, and does not label where the produce comes from.  My guess is that it is from California, though I suppose I can’t be sure.  I probably would have omitted this for the purposes of the challenge, but since it will get eaten eventually, I figured I’d just toss it in.

The directions to the pot pie are vague, partly because I didn’t write things down as I did it, but in part because it’s a very easy dish to prepare and adapt to whatever you have on hand.    I have never had a pot pie with a biscuit crust before, but I wanted to try it out with sweet potato biscuits, using my leftover sweet potatoes.  I must say, I think I’m a convert now.  Biscuit crusts rock.  Flufflier and heartier than a pie crust.  So good.

To make the pot pie, I started with the turkey stock.  Most of the meat had been picked off the carcass, and I put that in a pot of cold water, with an onion, salt, and some bay leaves.  If you’ve got extra carrots or celery around, those can go in too.  Boiled it for about two hours, strained, reserved the extra meat, and set it aside.

Then I rolled out the sweet potato biscuits using this recipe.  I put the biscuits in the fridge, then preheated the oven to 350.

To make pot pie, you basically want to cook vegetables on the stove, then once cooked, make a sauce, pour into a pan, cover, and bake.  Start with the hardest, longest cooking vegetables first and work your way down to the softest, most delicate vegetables.  Hard root vegetables, like potatoes, carrots, and parsnips will need a good 8-10 minutes.  Unless they are already cooked, then just add them during the last minute or two to warm them up.  Leeks and shallots went in at the 5 minute mark, and my leftover green beans from Thanksgiving dinner got added in the last minute.  This is a pretty hard dish to screw up, so just use your judgment here based on whatever produce you have on hand.    I sauted everything in butter, though you can use olive oil or a mix if you’d like. 

Once the vegetables are cooked, add the turkey meat, whatever herbs you are using (I used thyme and sage) and some salt and pepper.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, and sprinkle everything with a few tablespoons of flour.  Add a couple ladles of turkey stock and a splash of cream.   Stir together until you get a nice gravy-like sauce.  Add a little more liquid or flour if you need to.  You want it to be rich and wet, but not runny.

Pour everything into a deep baking dish or casserole dish, and cover with the biscuits.  Brush the biscuits with an egg wash or some cream, and into the oven for 30-40 minutes.

When it comes out, let it sit for a couple minutes, then dig into the bliss.

I paired it with a chardonnay that my husband picked up on a recent trip to Napa.  Yes, I realize I’m extremely lucky to have all this good stuff in my 150 mile radius.  I think I’ll be eating well this winter!


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