Springtime Eggs Benedict with Wild Greens and Mushrooms
David Hugo was head chef at Shelburne Farms for five years, but he started out as the breakfast chef creating this kind of seasonal, locally inspired dish. David forages his own ingredients and, ideally, he says, this recipe would use pheasant backs, an early-season mushroom often found near beds of wild leeks, or ramps. He would serve the eggs over O-Bread Bakery’s brioche. Serves: 4
8 ounces fiddlehead ferns (see Tip, page 58) or 1 pound asparagus, tough ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch lengths
1 tablespoon olive oil
16 small ramps, dark green tops trimmed, bulbs cut in half lengthwise, or 1⁄2 cup chives, cut into 1-inch lengths
8 ounces pheasant back or cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1⁄2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt plus more to taste
1 1⁄2 cups heavy cream
4 ounces (about 1 cup) grated cheddar (see Before You Start)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
8 large eggs (see Tip, page 58)
4 soft rolls or buns, split and lightly toasted if desired
Before You Start: Even without fiddleheads, ramps, and pheasant backs, you can still make a wonderful version of this Benedict with cremini (brown button) mushrooms, asparagus, and chives; the last two are both harbingers of the growing season in their own right. For the sauce, use fairly young but sharp cheddar, such as Shelburne Farms six- or nine-month. This is a recipe best made with help, as there are a few things going on at the same time. This recipe calls for lightly cooked eggs—please see Some General Guidelines to Our Recipes page xv, for further information.
1. Put a medium pot of salted water fitted with a steamer insert on to boil. Steam the fiddleheads for 5 minutes just until tender. (Asparagus may need a minute or two more.) Set the fiddleheads aside, but leave the pot of water on the burner on low heat.
2. In a medium sauté pan or skillet set over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil until hot. Add the ramps and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2–3 minutes until they start to soften. (If you are using chives, hold those until step 5.) Add the mushrooms and the salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have given up their liquid and turned golden, and they make a squeaking noise against the pan, 5–6 minutes. Toss in the reserved fiddleheads, adjust seasoning to taste, and cover the pan to keep the vegetables warm.
3. While the vegetables are cooking, bring the heavy cream to a gentle simmer in a medium saucepan and simmer for about 12–15 minutes to reduce by about one third. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the cheddar until the sauce is smooth. Adjust seasoning to taste and cover to keep warm.
4. Increase the heat under the pot of water and add the lemon juice to the pot. When the water is simmering, crack one of the eggs into a large slotted spoon set over a small bowl to strain off any thin strands of white, and then gently lower the egg into the simmering water. Repeat with a second egg immediately. Cook the eggs for about 3 minutes for a medium-soft yolk. Repeat with the remaining eggs.
5. Serve each pair of poached eggs as soon as they are cooked. Place each egg on a roll half, top with a spoonful of the vegetables and, if using chives, sprinkle those on now. Top each with a small ladleful of cheddar sauce and serve.
Tip: When selecting fiddleheads, be sure they are the new growing tips of the ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris, also known as Matteuccia pensylvanica). The new growth of a few other ferns is edible but is not as tasty and may cause stomach upset. Unfurled ferns should not be eaten at all. Look for a tight coil about an inch in diameter with an inch or two of stem beyond the coil. Rub off any brown, papery chaff before cooking, and wash the fiddleheads well in several changes of cold water.
Tip: The freshest eggs will yield the neatest poached eggs because their whites are thickest.
Prepare-Ahead Tip: A restaurant trick is to pre-poach the eggs, hold them in a bowl of cold water, and then pop them back in simmering water for 20–30 seconds to warm right before serving.
Shepherd's Pie with Caramelized Onions and Cheddar Smash
A true shepherd's pie is always made with lamb; the similar dish made with beef is properly called cottage pie. It is one of the most comforting and homey dishes around. Traditionally, it was made with odds and ends from the Sunday roast, finely chopped. Grated cheddar melted on top is not traditional, of course, but with all that great Shelburne Farms cheddar around, it was a natural and delicious addition. Serves 6-8
For the caramelized onions:
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds onions (about 6 medium), thinly sliced crosswide into rounds
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
For the potato smash:
3 pounds all-purpose potatoes, such as Yukon gold, scrubbed but not peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
4 garlic cloves, smashed with the flat side of a knife
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt plus more to taste
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
For the lamb filling and to finish the pie:
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 medium carrots, scrubbed, trimmed and finely diced (about 1½ cups)
2 pounds ground lamb
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon tomato paste (ketchup will do in a pinch)
2 cups chicken stock, preferably low sodium
1 cup (about 3-4 ounces) grated cheddar
1. Make the caramelized onions (up to one week ahead): In a large, heavy-bottomed sauté pan or skillet set over medium heat, heat the olive oil until hot. Add the onions to the pan and turn the heat down to medium-low.
2. Sprinkle the onions with the salt and cook, stirring frequently to make sure they brown evenly, for about 30-40 minutes or until they are completely golden brown and soft. You should have about 1½-2 cups of onions. Set aside.
3. Make the smashed potatoes (up to 24 hours ahead): Select a large pot that can accommodate a steamer insert or heatproof colander large enough to hold your potatoes. Fill it with water up to the bottom of the steamer insert, add the potatoes and garlic cloves, and sprinkle them with the salt. Cover the pot, set it over high heat, and bring the water to a boil.
4. Reduce the heat to maintain an active simmer and steam the potatoes for 25-30 minutes until they break apart easily when poked with a fork.
5. Remove the potatoes and garlic from the steamer, pour off the hot water, and return the potatoes and garlic to the pot. Cover the potatoes with a clean dish towel and let them dry out for about 5 minutes. (Do not allow the potatoes to cool before mashing or they will get disastrously gummy.) Add the butter to the pot and use a potato masher to smash the potatoes and garlic until blended but not completely smooth. Adjust seasoning to taste. Set aside.
6. Make the meat filling and finish the pie: Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a large sauté pan or skillet set over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil until hot. Add the diced carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes until softened.
7. Add the lamb, thyme, and salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes until the meat is no longer pink. Carefully pour off all the fat and discard.
8. Sprinkle the flour over the lamb and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Then stir in the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes longer. Pour in the stock, along with 1 cup of the caramelized onions. Increase the heat slightly and simmer, 2-3 minutes, until the gravy thickens slightly.
9. Spread the lamb into a shallow round or oval 3-quart casserole or a 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Spread the potatoes on top. Distribute the remaining caramelized onions over the mashed potatoes, and then sprinkle the cheddar evenly on top. Bake until the top is golden and crusty, about 20 minutes.
Variation: For a rich cheddar smash to serve at a different time, use the same ingredients for the mash but peel the potatoes. Follow steps 3 through 5 but mash 2-3 cups (8 ounces) of grated cheddar into the hot potatoes along with ¾ cup of warm milk or half-and-half, mixing until smooth. Cider-Glazed Squash and Arugula Salad
This salad is modeled after Rick's popular and very pretty Harvest Salad. Since arugula is one of the hardier greens from the Market Garden, it survives early frosts and carries through to the very end of the season. Its bite provides the perfect foil for the dense, sweet cubes of squash. The cider-glazed squash also makes a nice side dish in its own right. Serves 4-6
1 butternut squash (3 pounds) or pie pumpkin (4 pounds), peeled and seeded, flesh cut into about 20 ¾-inch cubes (see Before You Start)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider or natural apple juice
½ teaspoon coarse kosher salt
20 raw, peeled hazelnuts
4 cups (5-6 ounces) baby arugula
½ cup (about 2-3 ounces) crumbled fresh goat cheese
Before You Start: After you've cut your nice, even cubes of squash, you will have some perfectly edible bits left over. See the Variation below for ways to use them.
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a shallow roasting pan or rimmed cookie sheet, toss the squash with the olive oil, apple cider, and salt. Roast the squash for 20-25 minutes, turning once, until it is starting to color and all the liquid has evaporated. Cool the squash.
2. While the squash is roasting, coarsely chop the hazelnuts and put them in the oven in a small baking dish next to the squash to...