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Beef-and-Root-Vegetable Shepherd's Pie

There are cards to write, presents to wrap, and friends stopping by. When you're swept up in the holiday whirl, getting a weeknight meal on the table can be a challenge. The solution: Cook the components of this hearty shepherd's pie up to five days in advance, and then assemble and bake -- in batches big and small -- whenever the joyous chaos allows.

  • prep: 30 mins
    total time: 4 hours 20 mins
  • servings: 10
Photography: David Malosh

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Ingredients

Stew

  • 4 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups chicken or beef broth
  • 1 cup pitted prunes (about 14)
  • 1-inch piece cinnamon stick
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 4 large strips orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 10 ounces pearl onions (preferably red)

Topping

  • 3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound parsnips, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups grated aged Gouda or sharp cheddar cheese

Cook's Note

Tip
Each element of this dish can stand on its own. The beef stew is delicious over egg noodles. The vegetable mash is a perfect complement to roast chicken.

Directions

  1. Step 1

    Stew: Preheat oven to 300 degrees with rack in lowest position. Season beef with salt and pepper; toss with flour to coat. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 6-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Brown beef in 3 batches, scraping and wiping out pot and adding just enough oil to coat pot between batches. Transfer beef to a plate.

  2. Step 2

    Reduce heat to medium. Add 1 tablespoon oil, the ginger, and garlic to pot; cook until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Return beef to pot; add broth and prunes. Wrap cinnamon, cloves, zest, and peppercorns in cheesecloth, tie with kitchen twine, and add to pot. Bring to a simmer. Cover, and cook in oven until beef is almost tender, about 2 hours.

  3. Step 3

    Meanwhile, cook onions in boiling water 2 minutes. Drain, peel, and add to stew. Cover, and cook until beef is fork-tender, about 30 minutes. Break up prunes; remove spice bundle. Let cool completely; refrigerate up to 5 days.

  4. Step 4

    Topping: Place potatoes in a saucepan, cover with 2 inches of water, and add 2 1/2 teaspoons salt. Combine carrots and parsnips in another pan; cover with 2 inches of water, and add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Bring vegetables to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until fork-tender, about 20 minutes. Drain potatoes; dry out in pan on stovetop 5 minutes. Drain carrots and parsnips.

  5. Step 5

    Heat milk and butter until butter is melted. Mash vegetables together; stir in milk mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Let cool completely; refrigerate up to 5 days.

  6. Step 6

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spoon stew into ovenproof heavy skillets or baking dishes. Cover with vegetable mash; sprinkle cheese on top. Bake until stew is bubbling and cheese is melted, about 50 minutes, depending on pan size.

Source
Martha Stewart Living, December 2012

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Reviews (2)

  • bvbjaime 19 Feb, 2013

    This recipe is delicious! Both the beef stew and the topping are a nice update from the traditional. In fact, I love the mashed root veggies so much that I will make them more often as a side for a main dish. It is a bit time consuming, but definitely doable and totally worth it for the effort!

  • BBeers 4 Dec, 2012

    Fabulous update to Shepherd's Pie! The root veggie mix is especially nice, as is the orange-spice flavor palate of the stew-- bright and delicious! I made a few variations: I don't own cheese cloth, so instead I ground the cloves, pepper, & cinnamon in my coffee grinder, and removed the orange peel before covering w the roots. Otherwise, followed exactly. Will definitely make this again, and recommend it to others!