The feeling of sitting down to a meal of “comfort food” is exactly that, comfort. The senses drag up old, comfy memories, of different times and places, but all of them bring us comfort. In our childhood home, if we ever had a roast beef or pot roast for dinner, the next day one of us kids would be sitting at the kitchen table, grinding up the leftovers, along with onions and carrots so Mom could make her Shepherd’s Pie (truly a Cottage Pie).
Move ahead 50 years, and I still love the mashed potato crust, leading through to a rich filling. So, even though I enjoy a meat version, thought that maybe I could use my leading lady, Butternut Squash, to take on the role. BBC Good Food suggested shallots & pecans for her supporting actors.
I invited my sister to opening night. We swooned over the performance. Hope you enjoy it. I’m ready for an encore.
2½# russet potatoes, or Yukon gold
2 lb – 2½lb butternut squash (more is better)
1 T oil
2 oz (55 gr) pecans
2 T balsamic vinegar
2 T maple syrup
150 gr blue cheese
1 t dried sage, or 1 T chopped fresh sage
¼ c milk
2 T butter
½ t salt
1 egg yolk (free range will give the crust a beautiful golden colour)
Peel and cut up the potatoes.
Cook until fork tender in lightly salted water.
Drain and let sit to dry a bit while you prepare the filling.
Preheat the oven to 400°
Peel the butternut squash, remove the seeds, and cut into 1” chunks.
Layout the shallots alongside the butternut squash.
Drizzle with oil, and toss a bit, keeping the two vegetables separate.
Sprinkle lightly with salt.
Bake for 20 minutes.
Preheat a skillet over medium heat.
Add in the shallots & pecans with any oil from the parchment.
Add in the balsamic vinegar and maple syrup.
Toss well and cook until the shallots start to caramelize.
When the shallots have caramelized, about 10 minutes, spoon them onto the blue cheese & sage topped butternut squash pieces.
Mash the cooked potatoes.
Move the mashed potatoes to the bowl of a stand mixer.
Beat, using the flat beater, until well mixed and fluffy.
Add in the egg yolk, and continue beating until it is completely incorporated.
Spread the potato topping over the filling.
Sprinkle with nutmeg.
Bake for 40 minutes, until the cheese and vegetable juices have become creamy.
Let rest 10 minutes before serving.