Mushroom and Asparagus Shepherd’s Pie

This is my all-time favorite comfort food dinner.
The recipe calls for bacon, but for those TRUE vegetarian family members, I make this all the time WITHOUT the bacon.  Trisha

2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 c. vegetable or chicken stock
2/3 c. sherry
4 T. butter
4 t. butter, softened, mashed with 4 t. flour
2 t. thyme
2 slices bacon
½ lb. asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1″ pieces (f asparagus is really expensive and yukky looking, I use roasted carrots and parsnips instead)
2 lbs. mushrooms (button, cremini, chanterelles)
¼ c. shallots, minced
3 T. tomato paste
1/3 c. scallions, thinly sliced

1 recipe potatoes (follows)

Make mashed potatoes (2 ½ lb. Yukon golds, 2 t. salt, 2/3 c. light cream or milk, 6 T. butter).

1. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil; add the asparagus, and blanch until bright green and crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

2. In a very large skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp.  Remove, (leave dripping in the pan), drain on a paper towel, and set aside with the asparagus.

3. Add 1 T. butter to the skillet, heat until foaming and add about half of the mushrooms.  Cook over medium-high heat until browned and the mushroom have released their juice, 10 to 15 minutes.  Increase the heat to high and cook until mushrooms are dry and nicely browned.  Transfer them to a bowl and reserve.  Add another 2 T. butter and cook the second half of the mushrooms the same way.  Transfer them from the pan to the other mushrooms.

4. Reduce the heat to medium-high.  Add the last 1 T. butter and sauté the shallots and garlic, then add the sherry and deglaze the pan by scraping up any browned juices.  Boil until the liquid is reduced to a syrupy glaze.  Add the stock, tomato paste, and thyme.  Simmer for a few minutes, and then whisk in the butter paste bit by bit.  Simmer another minute until the sauce thickens a bit.  Add the cooked asparagus, bacon and mushrooms to the sauce, taste, and season with salt and pepper.  Pour into a 2 qt. baking dish.

5. Heat the oven to 375°.  Drop spoonfuls of the mashed potatoes on the mushroom filling and spread gently to form an even (but not too smooth) layer.  Bake in the hot oven until the potatoes are light brown and the filling is bubbling, 25 to 35 minutes.

Trisha (who gives this recipe 5 stars for Winter Comfort food)

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