Shepherd's pies are usually popular in any form. This one uses a filling of cabbage and beans instead of the usual beef or lamb. The cabbage is given a flavor boost from diced pancetta and sauteed onion.
This would also be good way to use leftover ham; just remember to add a tablespoon or two of oil to replace the fat from the pancetta. The dish can be assembled up to 8 hours ahead.
- For the cabbage filling
- 2 ounces sliced pancetta (unsmoked, salt-cured Italian-style bacon), cut into 1/4 - 1/2 -inch dice
- 1 medium onion, cut into 1/4- to 1/2 -inch dice (about 1 cup)
- 1 pound green cabbage, quartered, cored and thinly sliced
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken stock or broth, warmed
- 1 tablespoon mild olive oil or vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (may substitute 1 1/2 cups cooked cannellini beans)
- For the mashed potato topping
- 2 pounds peeled baking or russet potatoes, small ones cut in half and large ones quartered
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup milk, warmed
- 2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
For the cabbage filling: Have ready a shallow 8-by-12-inch baking dish, or one of similar size.
Place the pancetta in a large saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, adjusting the heat as necessary, until it starts to release its fat. Add the diced onion and cook 3 to 4 minutes until it has softened. Add the cabbage and season with salt and pepper to taste, using tongs to turn it over. Add 2 tablespoons of the chicken stock or broth and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until the cabbage has softened and almost all the liquid has evaporated. Move the cabbage to the sides of the pan to create a cleared center area. There, add the oil and the flour, stirring to combine, and then mix with the cabbage. Add the remaining warmed chicken stock or broth and mix well. The broth should thicken in a minute or two.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the cannellini beans, stirring to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Transfer the mixture to the baking dish. Set aside.
While the cabbage filling cooks, make the mashed potato topping: Place the potatoes in a pot of lightly salted cold water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook the potatoes about 15 to 20 minutes, until easily pierced with a fork. Drain and mash to the desired consistency, adding the warm milk and butter; season with salt and pepper to taste.
To assemble: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Place spoonfuls of the mashed potato topping on the cabbage filling and use a spatula to spread in an even layer. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.
(At this point, the shepherd'spie can be covered with aluminum foil and refrigerated for up to 8 hours. Reheat, covered, in a 350-degree oven for 25 minutes and then remove the foil and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the juices begin to bubble up on the sides. If the top has not browned, place under the broiler for a few minutes.)
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the juices begin to bubble up on the sides of the dish. If desired, position the top oven rack 4 to 5 inches from the broiler element and broil for a few minutes to brown the top of the pie. Serve hot.
Adapted from a recipe by Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.
Tested by Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.
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