winter shepherd's pie

I really wish I were not still making winter food. It has been Spring for a week, but without the sunshine or warmer temperatures. And so, while my little seed starts sprout inside, I will labor on making root vegetables while I dream of garden greens.

winter shepherd's pie with brussel sprouts and rutabaga

We did get one small blessing today which is that it the sun came out for the last hour of daylight! I can't recall the last time we saw the sun. I've always been a lover of winter and cozy indoor activities, but after two years in Colorado my desire for that strong, intense light seems to have increased. Or maybe I've just always felt this way at the end of March and forgotten it.

sawing wood

Jonathan took advantage of the break in the rain to carve up a tree that fell in our yard a few days ago. We're getting a wood stove installed (just in time for warm weather) and this will help heat our house next winter. I recently learned that it takes several months to dry out/season wood before you burn it in a wood stove, so now is the perfect time to start preparing for next winter.

Anyhow, this shepherd's pie is just the sort of meal to remind myself how delicious and cozy and comforting winter and winter food can be. A friend made me something similar when I was visiting her cozy place in Vermont on a snowy weekend. It completely hit the spot, so I decide to recreate it.

It is not pretty food, or fancy food. It comes in a 9x13 pan with a promise of being very rich and filling which it completely lives up to. And it makes soooo much food. The two of us ate generous portions and consumed maybe 20% of the pie. We will easily have another 3-4 meals of vegetable-y goodness.

Ingredients

Serving Size: will serve 10 hungry people

Root Mash

  • 1 rutabaga, peeled and chopped
  • 1 potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp salt

Béchamel a.k.a. White Sauce

  • 4 oz butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (I used half and half because I always have it)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 cup broth (I used chicken)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • pepper to taste

Filling

  • 2 cups chopped chicken (already cooked)
  • 1 lb brussel sprouts, cut in half
  • 3 chopped carrots
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley

To make the root mash - chop the rutabaga and potato into medium sized pieces and put in pot with about a gallon of water. Bring to a boil, and continue to boil until they soften up. Time will vary based on the size of the pieces, but check on them after 15 minutes. They're done when you can easily pierce them with a fork. The rutabaga will take longer than the potato so check those pieces. Once softened, drain in a colander and return to the pot. Add butter, sour cream and salt, and mash with a potato masher until as smooth as you like. Set aside.

To make the filling - Put the 2 cups of chicken in a large bowl. Toss the brussel sprouts with oil and either saute them over medium-high heat until they are cooked through, or put in a pan and bake in the oven at 400. This will take about 20-25 minutes depending on the size of the sprouts. Once they are cooked, toss them in the bowl with the chicken. Saute the onions and carrots until soft, then throw in the garlic for a minute before scooping everything into the bowl with the chicken.

winter shepherds pie with brussel sprouts and rutabaga

To make the béchamel - make sure you have all of your ingredients within arms reach because this goes quickly. Melt the butter on the stovetop, when melted, quickly whisk in the flour until smooth. Add cream and continue to whisk. It should be very thick. Add the chicken stock in about 1/2 cup at a time, continually whisking until everything has been added and is thick. Add the salt, pepper, and thyme.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Bring it all together. Mix the béchamel into the veg and toss until everything is coated. Spread evenly in a 9x13 pan. Next, scoop the root mash on top of it all and spread in an even layer.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes until everything is bubbly and your house smells amazing. Serve immediately.