Story and Recipe by Dana Benigno
Photographs by Kaitlyn McQuaid
Something to Savor: Savory Root Vegetable Cobbler
I usually make pot pies in the cooler weather topped with buttery puff pastry, but while making an apple crisp last fall, I thought, “what would happen if one made a savory version of the an apple cobbler?”
The first step was to create a savory stew out of market vegetables. I started with a recipe for lamb stew and root vegetables with shiitake mushroom, but you can use any of your favorite vegetables to create the base. Next, I needed to figure out how to create the crumbly texture of the sweet crisp topping, but without using any sugar. It is a culinary challenge, because the sugar is what gives the topping its crunch, so omitting it would make it more like standard pot pie dough. For this recipe, I wanted to create the texture of the cobbler topping.
As I thought about the issue, I remembered a technique used in one of my favorite cookie recipes called “Lydia’s Shortbread”, from the cookbook Butter, Sugar, Flour by Gail Gand. In that recipe, shortbread cookie dough is frozen and then grated in layers into the pan to achieve a very light crispy texture. Freezing the pastry crust dough and grating it over the top of the stew was the answer!
The final recipe is included below. I added herbs and a little garlic powder to the crust to give it extra flavor. After making the dough, wrap it up and place it in the freezer for a couple of hours until it is very hard and simply grate it over the top of your dish and bake. The result was exactly what I wanted, a crispy, crumbly top—or a savory cobbler!
Tips: This is a great dish to make in advance. Simply make the stew and put it in a baking dish and cover until you are ready to bake. It can be done up to two days ahead. Freeze the pastry dough and grate over the stew just before baking.
Dana Benigno is a chef, gardener, local food advocate and a former Executive Director of Chicago’s Green City Market. Her creativity and expertise blend like a good, savory cobbler. Dana developed this recipe especially for Edible Chicago.
This article was originally published in Edible Chicago's Winter 2013 issue. Photographs copyright by Kaitlyn McQuaid.
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