Jerusalem Artichoke and Beet Shepherd’s Pie

IMG_2064My housemate recently came home with a large bag of Jerusalem artichokes that needed to be used, and, probably due to the snow that came this weekend, I immediately thought of trying to make a hearty, filling shepherd’s pie with a Jerusalem artichoke topping in place of the potatoes. As many of you know, my favorite vegetable of all is the beet, so of course I decided this should be incorporated as well!

First of all, however, I decided to do a bit of research on this elusive “artichoke from Jerusalem”. I knew it wasn’t really an artichoke (or even in the artichoke family), and I knew that it was a root vegetable, but that was the extent of my knowledge.  It turns out that Jerusalem artichokes, also known as sunchokes, are actually a species of sunflower that is native to North America. Definitely news to me!  The poor ‘choke was also neglected for quite some time due to the belief that it would cause the eater to develop leprosy, since the stumpy brown tuber resembled the deformed fingers of those afflicted with leprosy.  (Hmmm, not very appealing, but I guess I can get past that since they’re so tasty.)

The flavor of them is said to most resemble water chestnuts, but I find that they act as a wonderful substitute for potatoes due to their starchiness (hence the idea for shepherd’s pie).  And, I might be a bit biased since I am partial to beets, but the addition of beets to this pie just made it so much more delicious.  It’s a perfect meal for a chilly night, served with a salad and a glass (or two) of red wine!

Ingredients

1.25 lbs. Jerusalem artichokes
4 medium beets
2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
½ medium onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
¾ lb. ground beef (I used 93% lean)
2 Tbsp. fresh rosemary
1 Tbsp. dried basil
1 tsp. paprika
2 generous Tbsp. tomato paste
1 Tbsp. salted butter
¼ cup milk
salt and pepper
1 cup corn (fresh or frozen)
2 Tbsp. breadcrumbs
handful grated Parmesan

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Scrub Jerusalem artichokes and put them in a large pot. Cover the artichokes with water and add a bit of salt. Bring to a boil and cook until tender and easily pierced with a knife.
3. Meanwhile, peel beets and chop them into ½-inch cubes. Place them on a baking sheet and toss with 1 tsp. of the olive oil. Bake for approx. 30 min. or until easily pierced with a knife.
4. In a large saute pan over medium heat, heat 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil. Add the onion and carrot, saute for a few minutes, and then add the garlic. When the onion and garlic are soft, add the ground beef, rosemary, basil, paprika, tomato paste, and salt and pepper to taste and stir to combine. Saute until the beef is cooked through. Remove from heat.
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5. When the Jerusalem artichokes are tender, pour them into a colander to remove the water. Return to the pot (off the heat), and mash the artichokes until they look like mashed potatoes. (It’s alright if there are a few lumps.) Add the butter and stir until melted. Add the milk and salt and pepper to taste and stir to combine.
6. When the beets are finished, add them to a bowl along with the corn. Lower the oven to 375°F.
7. Oil a 6-quart baking dish.IMG_2078 Add the beef and onion mixture to make the first layer, spreading it out along the bottom evenly.  Pour the beet and corn mixture in next, also spreading the vegetables evenly to make the second layer. Pour the Jerusalem artichoke puree in and smooth out the top. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs and Parmesan on top and add a dash of grated pepper to finish it off.
8. Bake for 40 min., or until the Parmesan is just starting to brown.
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