This hearty rustic dish from the Wine Country Inn is perfect for those cold, dreary days at the tail end of winter, when spring seems like it will never arrive. This dish is a variation of an English Cottage Pie, typically made with minced beef and topped with a mashed potato crust. But that is where the resemblance ends. With its incusion of cheese, this entrée also pays homage to the American version of Shepherd’s Pie, while its savory use of vegetables should win over all but the most hardened of carnivores.
2 sticks butter
1 cup milk
4 cups water
1 tbsp vegetable bullion
4 tbsp flour
3 tbsp olive oil
1 can unseasoned pinto beans
1-2 Portabello mushroom, chopped
1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
6-8 medium sized potatoes
1 cup grated sharp cheddar
Rinse, peel and slice the potatoes, bringing them to a boil in a large pot. Reduce heat and cook on a slow boil for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes easily slice in half with a spoon.
Drain the water and mash the potatoes, adding eight tbsp of sliced butter (one stick), milk, sea salt and pepper to taste.
In a sauce pan, add vegetable bullion to four cups of water. Bring to a boil to make vegetable broth and set aside, allowing it to cool until it is only slightly warm. (Vegetable bullion can be found at most health food and gourmet grocery stores).
In a cast iron skillet, melt five tbsp of butter, slowly adding the flour a tablespoon at a time, until the roux bubbles softly. Pour the vegetable broth over the top of the roux, stirring vigorously with a spatula to eliminate lumps. Bring to a slow boil, and continue stirring the whole time. While this simmers, add black pepper, thyme, sage, marjoram, rosemary and nutmeg to taste. (Or to cut corners, use one tbsp of poultry seasoning, instead). The gravy should be light brown in color. Remove from burner and set aside.
Heat the olive oil to a sizzle in a clean skillet and add the onions. Reduce heat and sauté until the onions begin to turn translucent. Add the peas, carrots, corn and mushrooms, sautéing them for an additional five to ten minutes. Season to taste with black pepper and onion powder. Remove from burner and mix the pinto beans into the vegetable sauté. This forms the base of the pie, replacing the meat mince used in Cottage and Shepherd’s pies.
Place the vegetable sauté in the bottom of a baking dish, then ladle the gravy over the top. Sprinkle a layer of cheddar and top off with the mashed potatoes. Use a fork to make a cross weave basket pattern into the top of the mashed potatoes.
Bake pie at 350 for 20 minutes. Broil for an additional 10 minutes or until the peaks of the potatoes turn brown. Serves 8-10 people.
Colorado wine pairings: This filling dish demands a full bodied red, so maybe try a 2002 Plum Creek Cabernet Sauvignon or a 2002 Grande River Meritage Red.