3 tablespoons vegetable shortening, divided

1 yellow onion, diced

2 cups pecans (7 ounces) toasted, very finely chopped

One 1-ounce package dried mushrooms, finely ground

2 cups vegetable stock

1 cup water

4 ounces raw almonds, soaked overnight

1 tablespoon yellow mustard

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon white vinegar

Kosher salt, to taste

Shelled roasted chestnuts, to garnish

Shelled toasted pistachios, chopped, to garnish

Chives, chopped, to garnish

Parsley, chopped, to garnish



Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

For the ‘ground beef’, place a skillet over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons shortening. Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 7 minutes. Add the pecans and dried mushrooms and cook until slightly toasted, about 2 minutes.  Add the vegetable stock and scrape up any brown bits that may have accumulated. Season with salt, to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook until the pecans are tender, about 30 minutes.

For the ‘cheese sauce’, combine the water, almonds, mustard, soy sauce, remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable shortening, and vinegar in a blender. Blend until very smooth and season with salt, to taste.

To assemble, spoon the ‘ground beef’ mixture into two gratin dishes or individual casserole dishes. Top with a layer of ‘cheese sauce’, followed by chestnuts. Bake until the centers are hot, and the tops are golden brown, about 25 minutes. Garnish with chopped pistachios, parsley, and chives.


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