4-5 oz Kerrygold reserve cheddar (or your preferred high-quality white cheddar)
Salt and pepper to taste
For the filling:
½ large yellow onion
4 medium carrots
6 cloves garlic
½ lb cremini mushrooms
¼ lb shitake mushrooms
½ cup brown (or green) lentils
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp flour
1 cup Guinness stout
1 cup vegetable broth (I use 1 ½ tsp Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base dissolved in 1 cup water)
1 tbsp vegan worcestershire sauce (more or less to taste)
10 oz frozen peas
Rosemary (fresh or dried) to taste (I use ~1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary)
Thyme (fresh or dried) to taste (I use ~½ tbsp chopped fresh thyme)
~2 tbsp olive oil
Optional: 1 tbsp Fernet-Branca
Peel the carrots, then finely dice the carrots and the ½ onion. Remove the stems from both the cremini and shitake mushrooms, then finely dice them as well. You''re aiming for the carrot and mushroom pieces to be about pea-sized, and the onions to be slightly smaller.
Peel the garlic cloves and either press or finely mince them.
Carefully peel the rutabagas and chop them into 1 inch pieces.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Place the chopped rutabagas into a large pot of cold salted water, cover the pot with a lid, and bring the pot to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat slightly and simmer for ~20 minutes, until a fork can pierce through a rutabaga piece with ease.
As soon as you turn on the heat under the rutabagas, place a small pot of salted water on a separate burner over medium-high heat to bring it to a boil.
Rinse your lentils in a mesh sieve or strainer, then add them to the small pot of water as soon as it starts to boil. Reduce the heat to simmer the lentils, stirring occasionally, for about ⅔ of the cooking time on the package (should be roughly 15 minutes). You want to cook them most of the way but not fully, since they''ll continue cooking in the oven later.
Once you add the lentils to the boiling water, begin working on the filling by placing the olive oil into a large, high-walled, nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and carrots to the pan and sauté until the onions are just starting to become translucent and fragrant, about 2-4 minutes.
Add the mushrooms to the pan with the onions and carrots and sauté until the moisture has mostly cooked out of the mushrooms and they start to sizzle and brown, about 5-7 minutes.
Add the garlic and tomato paste to the pan and sauté for an additional 1-2 minutes until they''re evenly incorporated into the vegetables and soften slightly.
Add the flour to the pan with the vegetables and sauté just until the flour has evenly combined with the vegetables and the raw flour smell goes away, about 30 seconds.
Deglaze the pan by adding the vegetable broth, scraping up any fond from the bottom of the pan. Add in the stout, worcestershire sauce, and the Fernet-Branca (if you''re using it). Stir to combine evenly, then bring the mixture to a boil.
Once the mixture is boiling, add the frozen peas. By this point, the lentils should also be mostly cooked. Drain the lentils, rinse them briefly, and add them to the filling mixture. Stir to combine evenly and bring the mixture back up to a boil if adding the peas and lentils stopped it from boiling.
Reduce the heat under the filling until it is just simmering and let it simmer, stirring occasionally, until the filling thickens to the point where dragging your spoon or spatula through the mixture leaves a trail. Add salt and pepper to taste, and add more of any of the other seasonings (rosemary, thyme, worcestershire sauce, etc.) as needed. If the mixture gets too thick, add more stout as needed.
While the filling simmers, make the mashed rutabagas for the topping. If the filling appears to be done before you''re done with the rutabagas, simply turn off the heat under the filling and leave it in the pan until your rutabagas are ready.
Drain the rutabagas and return them to the pot they were boiling in. Place the pot over low-medium heat and stir the rutabagas for 1-2 minutes, roughly mashing as you stir, to break them up and cook off some of their residual moisture.
Add the rutabagas to a stand mixer and use the paddle attachment on low speed for about 1 minute to roughly mash the rutabagas.
Add the milk and butter to the pot the rutabagas were in and place over low heat, stirring constantly, until the butter just melts.
With the stand mixer still running on low, slowly stream in about half of the milk and butter mixture. Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides, and examine the texture of the rutabagas. If you want your rutabagas a little thinner and creamier in texture, mix on low again and add more of the milk and butter mixture until your desired consistency is reached. You''re aiming for a texture that''s smooth and spreadable, but still holds its shape well.
Shred the cheese and add half of it to the rutabagas, then mix on low for about 30 seconds until the cheese is evenly mixed in and is slightly melted from the residual heat of the rutabagas.
Add the 2 egg yolks to the rutabagas and mix on low for about 30 seconds until just evenly combined.
Transfer the filling mixture to a 9x9 square baking dish. Carefully spoon dollops of the mashed rutabagas evenly over the top of the filling, then use a spatula or spoon to gently spread the rutabagas into an even layer over the whole top of the filling. Drag a fork across the top of the rutabagas to roughen the texture slightly for better browning in the oven.
Place the baking dish uncovered into the oven for 15 mintues, then remove it briefly to sprinkle the remaining shredded cheese over the top of the rutabagas and return it to the oven for another 10-15 minutes, until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly. Feel free to turn on the broiler in the last minute or two if your cheese isn''t bubbling as much as you''d like.
Remove the shepherd''s pie from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
I know using rutabagas instead of potatoes here is a little blasphemous, but my family always eats mashed rutabagas for the holidays so using them here gives me the nostalgic, comfort-food feeling that I think shepherd's pie should have. I also just think they go really nicely with the flavors in the filling. That being said, feel free to swap the rutabagas for the potatoes and prepare them the exact same way!