Lunchbreak: Smitten Kitchen’s Wild Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie

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Deb Perelman

Author of SMITTEN KITCHEN EVERY DAY: Triumphant and Unfussy New Favorites

Wild Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie

Makes 6 to 8 servings

1/2 cup (15 grams) dried mushrooms, such as porcini or a mix
1 cup (235 ml) boiling water
2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 3 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds (roughly 1 kilogram) fresh mushrooms, in chunks (I use a mix of shiitake, elephant ear, and cremini; all cremini is also fine)
2 tablespoons (30 ml) dry sherry
1 tablespoon (15 grams) tomato paste
1 cup (235 ml) vegetable, chicken, or beef stock

1 2/4 to 2 pounds (800 to 900 grams) russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large pieces
6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, in chunks
1 teaspoon kosher salt Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup (55 grams) crème fraîche or sour cream
2/3 cup (115 ml) milk or buttermilk
to finish

Smoked or regular paprika and/or 1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
prepare the mushrooms

In a small bowl, combine the dried mushrooms and boiling water. Set aside for 30 minutes (while you continue with the other steps), then drain, reserving the soaking water, and chop the rehydrated mushrooms into small bits. If the soaking water has any sand or grit at the bottom, pour it through a fine-mesh strainer.
meanwhile, prepare the lid

Place the potatoes in a medium pot, and cover them with a couple inches of salted water. Bring to a boil, and then simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes, until the potatoes are easily pierced in the center with a knife or skewer.

Drain, and either rice the potatoes into a large bowl, or place them in the bottom of a large bowl and mash with a fork or potato masher. Add the butter, salt, and pepper, and stir. The heat from the potatoes should melt the butter.

Add the crème fraîche and the milk, and stir to combine. Taste, and adjust the seasonings if needed.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Cook the vegetables In a large pan (4-quart, or an 11-inch deep skillet or braiser), heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, salt, and pepper, and sauté until the vegetables begin to color, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook for 1 minute more. Add fresh mushrooms, salt, and pepper, increase the heat to high, and cook the mushrooms until they brown and soften, releasing their juices, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the sherry, and scrape up any stuck bits. Add the tomato paste, and stir to combine. Add the rehydrated mushrooms and their liquid, plus the stock. Season again if needed, and simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until the mushrooms are coated in a thick sauce.

Bake the pie. If your skillet is oven-safe, you can bake the pie in it. If not, transfer the mixture to a 2-to-3-quart baking dish. Scoop the potatoes in large spoonfuls all over the top of the mushrooms, then use the back of your spoon to spread them smooth all the way to the edges, forming a seal.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until lightly browned on top. Garnish with a dusting of paprika and/or parsley. Scoop and serve.

Do ahead. This keeps for 5 days in the fridge and longer in the freezer. Rewarm it in a 350-degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes.