I love comfort food. Being from the South, biscuits and gravy, fried chicken, fried okra, and stick-to-your-ribs casseroles have been part of my life since before I was born — until I realized those foods were slowly killing us and decided to change my family's Southern ways. I have yet to attempt a biscuits and gravy or fried chicken that I feel good about serving my family, but I can confidently say that I have created a completely satisfying, healthy stick-to-your-ribs dish.
I wasn't sure what to call it at first, since it was a happy accident when I attempted to use up a few extra root vegetables from my fridge. It's not a stew, although it has some similar ingredients. It's sort of a casserole, but not really. It's definitely not traditional Southern fare, but it is comfort food: homey and rustic.
If you want to get fancy and impress your friends, you can call it legumes racines en cocotte (French for “root vegetables in a Dutch oven”). 😉
A tartiflette is what I settled on. Tartiflette is a French dish, traditionally made with potatoes, reblochon cheese, onions, white wine, and lardons (strips of pork fat). Variations of the traditional tartiflette can be made with bacon, creme fraiche, or even mushrooms. Wardee's Hamburger Tartiflette is absolutely delicious! This version sticks with a few of the traditional ingredients, but adds a healthy dose of root vegetables, which are high in antioxidants, fiber, and essential minerals.
Oh, did I mention that this is the perfect fall and winter dish?!
Root Veggie Tartiflette
- 1 to 1-1/2 lbs ground beef, bison, or venison (preferably wild and grass-fed)
- 1/2 large yellow onion, finely diced
- 1/4 cup butter, ghee, coconut oil, or a combination
- 5 carrots, peeled and diced into 1/4-inch cubes
- 1 rutabaga, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 large Russet potato, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch cubes
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon each of finely chopped, fresh thyme, rosemary, and flat-leaf parsley
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/3 cup tapioca starch or arrowroot flour
- 1-1/2 to 2 cups unsalted beef or chicken bone broth
- generous splash of heavy cream or milk (optional)
- 1 cup cheddar cheese, grated (optional)
Serves a family of 4 at least two or three times.
In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, melt the butter, ghee, and/or coconut oil. Add the diced carrots, rutabaga, sweet potato, and Russet potato. Saute for about 20 to 30 minutes, until softened. Meanwhile, in a separate skillet, brown the ground meat and diced onion. When browned, add the meat and onion to the Dutch oven with the root vegetables. Mix well. You can use a fork to see if veggies are tender. Cook a few minutes longer if they need to be softer. Add minced garlic, fresh herbs, salt, and pepper when veggies are tender.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. While you wait for the oven to heat, sprinkle tapioca starch or arrowroot flour over the meat/veggie mixture in the Dutch oven. Stir to coat, then slowly add stock and continue stirring. The mixture will thicken to a gravy-like consistency. Adjust the amount of stock if you want a thinner or thicker gravy. You can also add a generous splash of heavy cream or milk. Top with grated cheese and place in the oven for 15 minutes. Turn the oven's broiler on high and broil until the cheese is slightly browned.
If avoiding dairy, skip the cream and cheese and broiling, and serve immediately after the flour and stock have thickened to your desired consistency.
Variations, Substitutions, and Tips
Feel free to adapt this recipe to suit your needs. Leave out the Russet potato and use an extra rutabaga or a turnip instead if you're avoiding nightshades or high-starch foods. Skip the cream and cheese for a truly Paleo dish or if you're avoiding dairy. Add a few parsnips for even more variety.
Use fresh herbs if at all possible. The flavor is unbeatable. If you must used dried herbs, substitute 1 teaspoon thyme and 1 tablespoon herbes de Provence.
This recipe is already gluten- and grain-free and can be dairy-free with no effort!
This is an extremely economical meal as root vegetables are among the most inexpensive produce items you can buy — even organic!
Since this is already meat and veggies, I rarely serve a side dish. But a fresh, green salad would stretch it even further and give you an extra serving of vegetables.
You can store leftovers right in the Dutch oven or transfer to a glass dish. Reheat in the oven until warmed through.
Do you enjoy the bounty of root vegetables in the fall and winter? How do you serve root veggies to your family? What healthy comfort foods do you like to eat?
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