When March rolls into town, I always feel a huge sense of relief that Winter is on its last leg. It’s like the light at the end of a long, cold, unpleasant tunnel and it makes me anticipate all of the wonderful things about Spring.
Spring certainly is on the horizon, but it’s not here yet. Even though the warmer temperatures do give a glimmer of hope to a dreary winter, March weather can be pretty wet and cloudy.
And that means that cozy foods are still totally appropriate
Pretty vegetables get all of the attention, but in the produce isle and in life, looks aren’t everything.
The celery root is a humble veggie if there ever was one. Sometimes referred to as celeriac, the rather homely root makes up for what it lacks in the looks department by way of flavor. Seeing as it is the bulb of the crunchy green stalk , it has a slight hint of celery, with the texture of a potato. Sort of refreshing and hearty at the same time. Its mild, clean taste can be used anywhere you might otherwise use a potato- like to top a Shepard’s pie, for instance.
Not that I have anything against potatoes, but sometimes it’s nice to invite new ingredients to dinner. Everyone deserves a chance in the spotlight, I think.
If you’re a real stickler for culinary terminology, I’m ready to admit that this isn’t technically a Shepard’s pie. Traditionally, Shepard’s pie is made with lamb, while cottage pie is made with beef.
Another admission: I did not know this fact before I researched Shepard’s pie. And my guess is that you didn’t either. Whatever you decide to call it, just know that it is delicious. That’s all that really matters anyway, right?
So because I had some grass fed stew meat waiting patiently in the freezer, I went with it. You can absolutely use lamb and keep it a little more traditional, but since we’ve already traded out the spuds for another root variety, I’d just go with it if I were you. Change is good.
If you can, try to make the stew the day before you make the pie itself. A stew is one of those foods that gets better every day you have it. All those flavor friends really have time to intertwine and develop a taste that is greater than just the sum of their individual parts.
And not unlike the effect it has on humans, a little bit a wine really helps all those stew ingredients loosen up and get to know one another.
Wine is amazing like that; bringing people and ingredients together for centuries.
Oh! And about that gruyere.
New favorite thing in life. I still have to approach dairy cautiously (because of personal health reasons) but this wedge did not last long in the fridge. I’m feeling nostalgic for it already.
I’m more than ready for Spring and all of the fresh flavors it will bring along with it. But as long as it’s still sweater weather and I’m having to use my umbrella way more often than I’d like to, I’ll be busy making things taste cozy.
There are a few benefits to cold weather, and this dinner is definitely one of them.
Adapted from Williams Sonoma.
- 1.5 lb grass fed stew meat
- 2 leeks*
- 4 medium carrots
- pint baby portobello mushrooms
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 cup frozen peas
- olive oil
- 2 pats of butter
- fresh thyme leaves
- tbs almond flour, or other flour
- 1-2 bay leaves
- 2 cups beef broth
- 1.5 tbs tomato paste
- 1/2 cup red wine
- salt and pepper
- 3 medium celery root bulbs, or 2 large*
- 2 tbs grated parmesan
- whole milk
- 1/2 cup grated gruyere
- 2 pats of butter
- salt and pepper
- Remove beef from refrigerator and trim into bite size pieces.
- Peel and chop carrots. Slice Leeks lengthwise through the center, wash well, and chop until the very fibrous green tops. Wipe mushrooms with a damp towel, remove fibrous bottom of stem, and slice. Peel and chop garlic.
- Bring dutch oven (or other large, heavy pan) to medium high heat and add drizzle of olive oil. Add stew meat and salt and pepper, browning meat for 3-4 minutes. Remove meat and reserve.
- To dutch oven, add additional olive oil, leeks, carrots, mushrooms, garlic, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Saute for about 5 minutes.
- Add tomato paste, broth, wine, and thyme leaves. Bring to a simmer and whisk in almond flour. Add meat back to pan and reduce heat. Cover and cook for 1.5 hours, checking periodically to make sure there is enough liquid. Add more broth if liquid reduces too much.
- While stew cooks, bring a pot of salted water to a boil.
- Peel celery root bulb carefully with a knife, and cube. Add celery root to water and boil until tender, about 15 minutes.
- Drain celery root, and return to pan. Add in butter and parmesan, and begin to mash. Add in milk until desired consistency is reached. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Reserve.
- Preheat oven to 350.
- After cooking stew for 1.5 hours, stir in frozen peas and 2 pats of butter. Transfer stew to an oven safe dish and cover with mashed celery root. Sprinkle grated gruyere over top.
- Bake pie for about 20 minutes, or until top begins to bubble and brown. Remove from oven and serve, preferably with a large glass of wine.
*You can replace leeks with 1 medium onion *Celery root can be replaced with 3-4 medium potatoes
Hang in there, Spring is just around the corner!
Don't let me do all the talking! Let me know what you think in the comments.