Tarte du Berger (French Shepherd’s Pie)

I had a monster craving for shepherd’s pie the other day, but I also had an equally large craving for a really rich and comfort-food filled french stew. So I combined these two thoughts together to create Tarte du Berger, or Pie of Shepherds, in french. It’s filled with lovely root vegetables, leek-mashed potatoes and best of all, cognac-flamed seitan! This dish is sure to impress with not only the delicious tastes, but also the preparing of the meal itself. Warning: this recipe requires flame. Big flame.

  • 7-8 small Yukon Gold potatoes, diced (Russets would be fine as well, though less rich)
  • 3 tbsp Earth Balance non-dairy butter
  • 1/2 cup soy milk, unflavored
  • 2 leeks, sliced to the dark green part, then halved
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry
  • 3 cups minced seitan
  • 1/4 cup cognac (a sweet scotch like Macallan’s will do in a pinch)
  • 3 tbsp Earth Balance non-dairy butter
  • 1 yellow onion, quartered and sliced
  • 2 parsnips, diced
  • 8 fingerling carrots, diced (or two regular carrots, diced)
  • 8 button mushrooms, quartered (porcini are great, but expensive and occasionally uncommon)
  • 3/4 cup red zinfandel
  • 3 tbsp Earth Balance non-dairy butter
  • 1/2 cup unbleached white flour
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock (mushroom stock is really nice for this)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

The Method:

1. Boil potatoes. Carmelize leeks by putting them in a saucepan with the dry sherry, bring to a boil, then turn heat down to medium / low and let the liquid cook off. Drain the potatoes and put them back in their pot with the leeks. Mash with 3 tbsp “butter” and slowly add soy milk until the potatoes are to your preferred consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste, set aside.

2. Saute seitan in 3 tbsp butter until brown (you want it a bit crispy). With a long lighter in one hand and the 1/4 cup cognac in the other, pour the cognac onto the seitan and light the seitan. Lift the pan above the burner and jiggle it a bit to reduce the flame down. Be careful! The flame will go down in time. Remove seitan from pan once flame is out, but keep the juices in the pan. Set seitan aside.

3. In the “juiced” pan, saute the onion (add “butter” if you need to) until just starting to brown. Add parsnip and carrots, cook until vegetables have a brown crisp to them. Add “butter” as necessary to keep them from sticking to the pan. Add mushrooms, cook for 5 more minutes. Remove veggies from pan and set aside, but keep the drippings in the pan.

4. Put heat to low. In a small bowl, whisk flour with 3/4 cup stock until a roux is made. Slowly add to the pan, whisking the entire time. Add the remaining stock, slowly. Add the zinfandel slowly, mix well. Add the vegetables and seitan, mix well. Cook at a rolling boil until the sauce reduces to a thick gravy. You may need to make subsequent rouxes (rouxs?) and add them to the stew. Add salt and pepper to taste.

5. In a large baking dish, layer first the seitan stew, then top with the mashed leek potatoes. Bake at 400 degrees in the oven, until the potatoes are browned on top. Enjoy!

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