It's getting a little warmer outside and with rising temperatures my desire to range through farmers markets is increasing exponentially. Living in Berlin, you're never far from the next food market, and this week I discovered Food Assembly. There, you can buy fresh produce from local farmers and producers, conveniently order online, and then meet the vendors at your weekly food assembly market and pick up your order. When I heard about this I was thrilled and immediately went online to place an order. I guess I was so excited that I picked totally random items and ended up with a bag of Jerusalem artichokes, apple juice and some Scottish Highland minced beef.
Last night when I picked it up I started wondering whether I could combine all three ingredients...And tadaaa, Shepherds Pie sprang to my mind. I know, I know, Shepherds Pie doesn't sound very springlike...But by replacing the potato mash with mashed Jerusalem artichokes and adding the apple juice to the filling I think it's actually turned out to be a great early spring dinner.
For the Purée
1 kg Jerusalem artichokes ('topinambur')
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 handful of roughly chopped walnuts
150 g feta cheese
salt and pepper to taste
For the Filling
450 g minced beef
8 - 10 medium-sized carrots
250 g fresh peas
1 red onion
5 fresh bay leaves
2 sprigs of rosemary, leaves picked
5 sage leaves, roughly chopped
good splash of apple juice
salt and pepper to taste
For the Crust
- 20 g parmesan cheese, grated
- breadcrumbs (about 1/4 of an old bun, grated)
1. For the purée, peel and roughly chop the Jerusalem artichokes. Place them in a saucepan with salted water and bring to boil. Let simmer until the bulbs are soft (if you can pierce them with a knife or fork they should be fine). Set aside.
2. In the meantime, season the minced beef with some salt and fresh pepper. Peel and chop the onion and carrots. Cut open the pea pods and pick out the peas. If fresh peas aren't available just use frozen - usually I do that too, but this time I thought it would be kind of fun to pick them by hand.
3. Heat a frying pan and add a good splash of cooking oil (e.g. sunflower oil). Toss in your onions and the bay leaves. After a minute add the meat, stirring occasionally, so it doesn't get burned. When your meet is just cooked, add the carrots, peas, rosemary and sage and let simmer for another minute. Douse with a good splash of apple juice and turn off the heat.
4. Either using a masher or a handheld blender, mash the Jerusalem artichokes (I always leave it a bit lumpy, but that's really just a matter of taste) and crumble in the feta cheese. Add the chopped walnuts and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
5. Now we just need to assemble the pie. Take a casserole dish and first fill in your minced meat filling. Evenly spread on the Jerusalem artichoke purée. Lastly sprinkle with some grated parmesan and breadcrumbs. Aaaaand finished. Now you just need to toss it in the oven (175°C) and wait (about 20-30 minutes) until the top is golden brown.