I drew a snug fleece tightly around my neck and jerked open the door to the cool stillness of dawn. With contempt, I took in the scene before me. It seemed without warning old man winter had snuck in and asserted himself on a peaceful and unaware fall. Even the trees were surprised, as their green leaves gripped the branches in a final act of refusal. Even Jack Frost was in on the conspiracy, as he had painted a mocking scene across the windows of my car, where the wipers were frozen to the glass in shock.
Had the kids been able to teleport themselves to school, I would have gladly forgone this chilly commute. And, as I braved the early morning drive to school, I longed for the comfort of my warm bed, and hot cup of joe.
Upon ignition, the wipers, left in their ‘on’ position overnight, sprang to action, promptly flying off their rods, the blades shredding instantly.
October is too soon for ice, sleet and snow.
Luckily I have just the recipe to warm kitchens and bellies-the ultimate comfort food, and the final dish in our October Pumpkin Series: Shepards Pie With Pumpkin Potato Mash.
I enlisted the kiddos help with me in the kitchen, as the cooking down process was a bit tedious, but well worth it. And it turns out this was the perfect dish for the kids to help out on. It’s not too complicated, and I appreciated that they could lend a hand with the stirring while I buzzed about tending to other mom-like duties.
As we sat down as a family to enjoy this latest pumpkin creation, there was not a single word spoken, but lots of ‘OOOh’s, Ahhhh’s, and Yum’s!’ They especially enjoyed the pumpkin mashed potatoes. I guarantee this is unlike any shepards pie you have ever had, and will become a favorite for the season.
Shepard’s Pie With Pumpkin Potato Mash
For the meat layer:
- 2 lbs ground beef
- 5 Italian sausage links, casings removed
- 5 celery spears
- 5 carrots
- 1 medium onion
- *olive oil
- 2 c. chicken broth
- ½ c red wine
- ¼ c fresh chopped sage
- ⅛ c. fresh thyme
- 1 tsp. salt
- ½ tsp pepper
For the pumpkin potato mash layer:
- 1 package (10-12 medium sized) red bliss potatoes, unpeeled
- ½ roasted pumpkin (or 1 can pumpkin puree)
- 1 ½-2 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ½ tsp. ground cloves
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 3 T butter
- 1 ½ c. shredded monterey jack cheese
- ¾ c. half and half or light cream
For the corn layer:
- 2 bags frozen corn
*Cut pumpkin in half and seed it, (you can add a couple tabs of butter or drizzle a little olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, pepper and cinnamon as desired). Roast in 400 degree oven for 40 minutes.
OR use 1 can of pumpkin puree for the pumpkin potato mash.
In a food processor, puree the carrots, celery and onion. Heat up 2 T of olive oil in a large saute pan, and add pureed vegetables. Cook them down on med/high heat, stirring constantly. As they steam off, add a little olive oil to keep them browning, you should hear them spit and crackle-this process may take up to 45 minutes, and you may have to add olive oil to keep it browning a few times.
When the vegetable mixture is cooked down it should look dry and mealy; Now add broth and continue cooking off the liquid; when all of the liquid has reduced, add the sausage and ground beef, mixing it into the browned vegetables; continue stirring, and breaking up the meat. Add salt, pepper.
While meat is browning, heat up water for the mashed potatoes. When water is at a rolling boil, add potatoes and cook until fork tender. Remove and drain, set aside.
When the meat has browned, add red wine and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, simmer until all liquid is absorbed. Add in fresh herbs and mix thoroughly. Set aside.
Mash the potatoes and add butter, salt, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and garlic powder. Add in the cheese and pumpkin, when combined, add in the cream.
In a large casserole dish, layer the meat on the bottom, then the corn (uncooked is fine), then top with the pumpkin potato mash. Cook at 350 degrees for ½ hour. Serves 6-8.