I've been hibernating since Christmas, Vancouver has worn a blanket of snow and ice for weeks now and to be honest I'm a little nervous of what our next heating bill will look like. The lane outside our house has reached near ice rink status and Alfie the cat has been allowed free rein of the house at night (he usually sleeps down in the basement) which means night time whiskers-in-face and snuggle under the covers awakenings which is kinda cute but not nearly as fun as it sounds. I've got bags of stuff to be getting on with, yet when the inside temperature ducks below 60 we fight for hot showers in a bid to warm up extremities, not to mention the brain, ready for the day ahead.
Cooking is also a worthy way to keep warm and, of course, there's that reward at the end. I've had this recipe idea floating around in my head for so many months now, it was time to put it to the test and boy oh boy, I'm pretty pleased I did now ... it's that good! I think this is the perfect week night supper dish. Super easy and speedy to make and with the days still dark and freezing by 5pm, that's surely a no-fail. There are a lot of different textures and flavours happening within that satisfying nursery-mash and I mustn't forget to say there's very little clearing up to do afterwards. Boom!
If you have difficulty getting your hands on AIP-friendly ham, bite-sized chunks of leftover roast chicken or turkey will make a fine substitute. And here's a tip: If you have leftovers, fry it up next morning as breakfast hash. Yum!
ham, brussels sprout and shiitake bake
This recipe is also fantastic for using up the leftovers from roast chicken (or turkey for that matter) so bear this is mind, especially if you can't get your hands on any AIP-friendly ham *
Print the recipe here!
1 medium (1+3/4 lb) cauliflower, cut into large florets
1+1/2 lb rutabaga, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp pork lard or other solid fat, divided
5 inch white piece of leek, thinly sliced
4 oz shiitake mushrooms, sliced
12 oz brussels sprouts, outer leaves removed and sliced thickly (halved if small)
3/4 cup chicken or turkey broth, heated
1/4 packed cup finely chopped curly parsley
10 oz piece of nitrate-free ham, cut into smallish bite-sized pieces *
flaky sea salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Using a steamer, put the rutabaga and cauli on separate trays, and cook for around 15 minutes until tender. Put the rutabaga tray closest to the heat source and be aware that depending on the size of your chunks and florets, you will probably need to remove the cauli before the rutabaga is ready.
In a large saucepan melt 1 tbsp of the lard and sauté the leek for 3-4 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the pan and continue for 4 minutes or so, followed by the brussels for a further 5 minutes.
Put the steamed cauli into a food processor with the remaining lard and purée until completely smooth (this should yield about 1+1/2 cups), then place 1 cup worth into a large bowl and stir in the warmed broth. This is your white sauce. Leave the remainder of the purée in the processor. Now stir the brussels mixture, parsley, ham and a sprinkle of salt into the bowl of white sauce. Taste the mixture, making sure you have a small amount of the ham on your spoon and add more salt if necessary. Tasting in this way is important as the salinity of ham means you likely won't need to add very much. However if you are using chicken or turkey instead, you will need to add more salt as it has a blander flavour. Transfer the mixture to an 11 x 8 inch ovenproof dish.
Meanwhile, put the steamed rutabaga into the processor with the reserved cauli purée, add a sprinkle of salt and process again until smooth. Spoon this over the ham mixture and place into the oven for 25-30 minutes until the ham is completely heated through, and the bake browned and bubbling. Alternatively make sure everything (including the ham) is piping hot as you assemble it, then place under a hot broiler for around 10 minutes to colour the topping.
Serve with a side of something colourful, such as lightly steamed carrots.