Cottage Pie? I Think That's What This Is.
Roast the Squash
Roast the squashes whole. Poke some shallow holes all around the squashes with a fork and roast at 400F for 20 minutes. This makes them easier to cut into. Allow to cool slightly before handling.
Cut each squash in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds. Return the squash to the oven on a lined sheet pan, cut-side down. Roast for another 40 minutes or so (depending on squash size) until the flesh is completely fork tender. Allow to cool slightly.
Scoop the flesh out of the squash skins and place in a bowl (If you’re using delicata squash the skin is edible and you can just toss the whole thing in). Add cream, salt, pepper, garam masala, and butter, and blend well. Use a wooden spoon if you like, but I put everything in the bowl of a stand mixer and whipped it to get a smoother texture.
Roast the Brussel Sprouts
If the sprouts are bite-sized you don’t need to cut them in half, but you can if you think the bite will be too big. Either way, save yourself time and don’t bother cutting off the stubs at the end. They get tender when cooked.
Toss the BS in oil, salt, garam masala, and red pepper flakes. Roast at 400F for about 30 minutes. They should be tender, but not mushy.
Saute the Mushrooms
Gather your favorite mushrooms and give them a quick rinse or a rub with a damp cloth. Don’t soak them or hold under running water. Mushrooms are like little sponges and they’ll soak up more water the longer they’re exposed to it, and that means it’ll take longer to cook all the water out.
Slice or chop the mushrooms.
Cook over medium-low heat until the mushrooms have shrunken by about half and are nicely browned (maybe 20-30 minutes). Sometimes at this point, I like to add soy or Worcestershire sauce (2-3 Tbl for a little zing) and continue cooking for 5 minutes until the sauces are absorbed.
Brown the Ground beef.
Bring a large non-stick pan (or skillet :) ) to medium-high heat and add the ground beef. Cook until brown and no pink remains. Drain excess fat if you like, but I kept it in and it kept the meat nice and moist (sorry for saying moist).
Toss with fresh herbs (maybe rosemary, sage, and thyme), salt and red pepper flakes.
Layer one: ground beef
Layer two: mushrooms
Layer three: brussel sprouts
Layer four: mashed squash
Just kidding, but only kind of.
After assembly, you don’t need to cook the shepherd’s pie anymore, but it’s fun to brulee the top for a little color and crunchy texture.
You could even sprinkle a few nuts or seeds or drizzle oil or maple syrup or honey on top first! OR you could toast the squash seeds separately and sprinkle those on top.
Anyway. Position the oven rack as close as you can to the broiler while making sure your baking dish will fit (mine was hefty). Broil on high until you see a little browning happening (5 minutes or so). Just keep an eye on it so it doesn’t get too burned.
The following recipe amounts (used in the photos) is enough to fill a 12x8x3 baking dish:
2 kabocha squash
1 delicata squash
1 cup cream (dairy or coconut)
2 Tbl butter (or a touch more coconut oil)
2 Tbl garam masala
Salt and red pepper flakes to taste (about 2 tsp each)
1 lb brussel sprouts
2 Tbl avocado or coconut oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp red pepper flakes
6-8 oz button mushrooms
2 Tbl avocado or coconut oil
3lb ground beef
3-4 sprigs each rosemary, thyme, and sage
Salt and red pepper and red pepper flakes to taste
All of the amounts above are approximate. You should taste everything along the way to make sure it tastes the way you like. Each element should be delicious before you layer it.
The squash and the brussel sprouts can be placed in the oven at the same time. If your oven has a convection setting, use it to help keep the air moving around the crowded space, but keep in mind the vegetables might cook or brown faster, and you’ll have to take the brussel sprouts out before the squash is done.
To save time, try putting all the oven-bound things in first, then you can brown the beef and saute the mushrooms while you wait.
This is a very flexible dish. It can be a main dish or a side dish, and you can add more layers or take away what you don’t like. You can mix up the spices used to make it more to your taste as well.
Have fun and enjoy the smells.