Potato based stews are definitely a staple in Dutch cuisine (curly kale, endive, and sauerkraut are the most popular), but this stew made with root vegetables, lentils. The boozy shallots/gravy is absolutely incredible too. A must-try winter dish! If you have some of Ottolenghi’s cookbooks, the wine-braised shallots will be quite familiar. Rightfully so, as they are delicious and make an excellent base for the gravy.

The original recipe is with celeriac, carrots, squash, sweet potatoes in a 1:1:1:2 ratio. Ottolenghi indicates that you can pretty much use any root veg you like as long as you stick to the overall weight (1½ kilo / 3 lbs in his recipe). Therefore I ended up used celeriac, carrots, turnip and sweet potatoes (the orange varietal this time).

The recipe

For the stew

  • 80g / 3oz dried puy lentils, rinsed
  • 500g / 18oz celeriac, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 300g / 10½oz carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 200g / 7oz turnips, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 500g / 18oz sweet potatoes peeled and cut into chunks
  • 70g / 5 tbsp butter, diced
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • Salt and black pepper

For the shallots

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 600g / 21oz shallots, peeled
  • 400ml  / 1½ cup red wine
  • 240ml / 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • Salt
  • 30g / 2 tbsp butter
  1. Put the oil and shallots in a heavy pan and fry, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes until well colored.
  2. Add the wine, stock, bay leaf, peppercorns, thyme sprigs, sugar and a generous amount of salt, cover and simmer for 1 hour.
  3. Remove the lid, raise the heat and boil down until the liquid is reduced by halffullsizeoutput_10f9
  4. In the meantime, boil the lentils in plenty of water until tender (about 25-30 minutes) drain and set aside.
  5. Also fill a medium pot halfway with water, bring to a boil and add the root veg. The celeriac and carrot go first and after 10 minutes, the turnips and sweet potato are next. Now all veg should be just immersed, if not top off with extra water. After 10 to 15 minutes of further cooking, they should be done.fullsizeoutput_10fa
  6. Remove the shallots from the pan with a slotted spoon (if necessary, reduce the sauce further until there is about 120ml / ½ cup left) stir in the butter and strain the sauce.
  7. Drain the veg and put them back into the pan and mash them until smooth. Stir the butter, maple syrup, cumin, and cooked lentils into the mash and season to taste.
  8. To serve, top the mash with the shallots and pour over the sauce.fullsizeoutput_10fb

What worked and what didn’t:
The lightly spiced mash is so good and so full of flavor! You really taste all the veg, the lentils giving some texture and the maple syrup adds a nice sweet touch that is different from the veg. The shallots are soft, also slightly sweet, but chockfull of red wine and thyme flavors. The reduced sauce ties everything together and really complements the mash.

No downsides, other than the fact that the recipe really should have mentioned that you need to strain the sauce to rid it from the bay leaves, peppercorns, and thyme sprigs. However, do note that in the reduction phase, the boiling can lodge some of the peppercorns in the shallots, so you can still be in for a surprise!

Suggested tweaks:
Add some weights to the duvet covers…

Verdict: 9/10, definitely worth trying again.

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