It seems like there are a lot of things going on in this recipe at once - and to some extant this is a little more involved than other recipes, but it’s completely worth it. The leftovers from this dish are magnificent. Make your life easier by prepping your ingredients ahead of time - the mashed sweet potatoes can be even made a few hours in advance - and I imagine you could even chop your veggies and cook your meat the day before and store tightly lidded in the fridge. If you’re really pressed for time, skip some steps on the gravy and just add beurre manié to hot wine/stock at the last minute. Just make sure to sweat your vegetables for a few minutes before bringing everything together, and add 10 or minutes to your cooking time to compensate for cold ingredients.
I hope this recipe inspires you to do something amazing in the kitchen with your Cardo’s veggies. This was my first big, homemade meal in a couple weeks and it was well worth it.
Interesting trivia for the day: In Finland, a variation on the cottage pie is calledlihaperunasoselaatikko. Try saying THAT with you mouth full!
Bison and Root Vegetable Cottage Pie
1-2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
Parmesan cheese (optional)
1 pound ground bison
2-3 strips bacon
2 tbs. flour
1 stick butter (for multiple uses)
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
1 large sweet onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbs. fresh sage, minced
1/2 tbs. fresh or dried thyme, minced
1 medium sized turnip, peeled and diced
4 parsnips, diced
5-6 carrots, diced
salt and pepper
Use a large (iron) skillet to brown your meat and make your sauce, and a dutch oven with a lid to sweat veggies and bake the casserole. If you don’t have a dutch oven, sweat the veggies in another skillet and transfer the ingredients to a covered casserole dish to bake.
- Do some prep work first: Peel and dice/mince your vegetables - set garlic and onions aside together in one bowl and the other veggies (except sweet potatoes) in another. Also, prepare a beurre manié (literally a paste of butter and flour) ahead of time so it’s ready when you need it to thicken your sauce: Cut 1 tbs. flour into 1 tbs. room temperature butter until you form a smooth paste and set aside for step 9. Preheat the oven to 375°.
- Peel sweet potatoes and cut into half inch cubes. Toss into a pot with water to cover and 1/2 tsp. salt and bring to a boil . Lower the heat to medium and cook for around 10 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are soft.
- Strain and mash the sweet potatoes - adding 2 T. butter, salt and pepper, and optional grated Parmesan. Set aside.
- While the sweet potatoes are cooking, cook bacon in a large skillet on medium heat. Remove bacon from the pan and pour off half the bacon drippings to reserve for sweating your vegetables (you can add them directly to the dutch oven). Chop the bacon roughly and set aside.
- Meanwhile, add the reserved bacon drippings (or 2 tbs. of butter if you prefer) to the dutch oven and turn the heat to medium low. Add onions, garlic, and minced herbs to the pan and sweat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant (5 min). Add remaining diced vegetables and cook, covered, for 10-15 minutes - stirring occasionally.
- Increase the heat on the skillet you used to cook the bacon and brown the bison in batches, allowing a good sear to develop on the meat before flipping to sear on the other side. Set aside cooked bison and decrease heat in the pan to medium low.
- Deglaze the pan with the white wine - add the wine to the hot pan (it will boil immediately) and use a spatula to scrape up the brown bits of the pan.
- Add chicken stock to the wine and reduce for 5-10 minutes.
- Add the beurre manié to the hot mixture a few forkfuls at a time, whisking thoroughly to smooth out the initial lumps. The sauce will thicken immediately, and continue to thicken as it heats. If it gets too thick, add more stock or wine to loosen it up a bit.
- Add the bison and the bacon to the simmering vegetables and top with the sauce. Stir to combine.
- Spread the mashed sweet potatoes evenly on top of the meat and vegetable mixture.
- Cook, covered, for 30-45 minutes. This time depends on how long you cooked the veggies in the pot before hand. Stick a sharp knife in it to test for doneness after 30 minutes. You want the the veggies to have the consistency of cooked potato. Remove the lid and cook the casserole under the broiler for the last 5-10 minutes to give the sweet potato crust an extra crisp.