Vegan Mushroom Shepherd's Pie
"Winter is not completely over" I say to myself dissapointedly as I wake up to another night's freeze. The in-between period of winter turning into spring for me is tortuous and even though in my head I am already planning on making lighter, more "spring-like' food, it just has to wait a bit longer. Until then...spring weather, until then.
Vegan Mushroom Shepherd's Pie
serves 4 as a main - 6 as a side
1600 g potatoes peeled
600 g mushroom mix - roughly chopped
200 g roughly chopped leeks
200 g shredded carrots
2 T fresh chopped thyme (about 10 grams before plucked)
500 ml soy cream
8 T butter of choice
4-6 T red wine of choice
2 T flour
4 T olive oil
2 t tomato paste
1/2 c potato water
2 garlic cloves - thinly sliced (10 g)
1 c milk of choice
In a pot with boiling salted water, add the peeled, cubed potatoes. Cook until very soft. Save some potato water for the filling before straining, just in case.
While the potatoes are cooking, cut/shred the leeks and carrots. In a medium-hot pan with the olive oil, cook the carrots and leeks with a lid until they are wilting (about 5 minutes). Stir them occasionally. Remove and set aside.
In the same pan with half of the butter, cook the mushroom mix on a medium to medium-high heat for about 4 minutes without a lid. Mix them regularly. Add the thinly sliced garlic and cook for another minute, mixing the whole time. The mushrooms have to be slightly cooked or browned before you add any salt or pepper. After the s&p, add the tomato paste, wine & flour, cook for 1 minute, mixing again, the whole time and scraping off any hardened bits stuck on the bottom of the pan. Add the thyme, cook for 1 minute. Add the cream and stir to incorporate. Cook until it begins to bubble and thicken. Then turn off the fire. You want the texture of the filling to be thick, like a chicken pot pie filling, but still creamy. If it's too thick, add up to 1/2 of a cup cooked potato water to thin out.
At some point you will need to mash the potatoes. Before this step, turn on the broiler/grill in your oven to cook the dish from above.. Strain the potatoes (saving some liquid!) and place back into the pot on a medium-low heat. Steam as much of the liquid out of the cooked potatoes before mashing them. This takes just a couple of minutes usually. You can mix them around with the masher to get proper contact with the heat of the pan to encourage the steam out. Add the milk, pepper and remaining butter. Mix well until somewhat smooth, but not too much or it becomes gummy. Make sure the seasoning is ok, sometimes more salt is needed, sometimes not.
Reheat the mushroom filling and make sure it is piping hot, but not any more reduced before you put it into the baking dish. I used a 9x9 inch square baking pan (which is about 23 cm x 23 cm). Then cover with the mashed potatoes, spread out flat with the back of the spoon. Next, for a fancier look, use the back of a fork to make a wavy, lined pattern on the top. Cook directly under the broiler/grill until golden brown (about 5 minutes for my oven). Leave the door open and watch it the whole time, or it could burn and be ruined instantly. Serve with a salad as a main dish or with any kind of meat as a side dish. Enjoy!