Unfortunately, I missed last week’s cover cooking challenge due to stomach issues. Fortunately, I’m a big fan of comfort food and have a ton of easy, warm recipes to make when my tummy is in recovery mode. One of those recipes is Shepherd’s Pie. I love one pot meals, and this is one of my ultimate all-in-one dishes. Veggies, meat, and starch brought together by gooey gravy. What could be better? Shepherd’s Pie also happens to be a recipe that one of my readers asked that I tackle here, so it was a perfect meal to make on my way back to my regularly scheduled cooking and blogging.
Now, I make a more typical Shepherd’s Pie than this—ground beef, brown gravy, corn, and mashed potatoes—which I’ll admit is a bit easier. However, this version always sits better with me. It’s healthier (using lean ground turkey), it’s 100% homemade (as opposed to using packaged brown gravy mix for the other), and it tastes and looks more gourmet because of the mix of white and sweet potato. I still use frozen veggies because they give variety without a lot of cost and save time on prep (everything’s already bite sized, so no chopping required). Frozen veggies are great to use on a budget and in a tiny kitchen. The vegetables are often flash frozen right after they’re harvested, so sometimes they’re even fresher than what’s in the produce section, especially if the veggies in question are out of season.
The hardest thing about this dish is the gravy, and it’s really not that hard. All it takes is time. First, you want to make sure that the mushrooms and shallots get nice and aromatic before you add the flour and broth. That’s where all the flavor is going to come from. Then, you want to really add the broth very slowly. It’s tempting to just dump it in all at once, but, trust me, you will end up with lumps and miss out on having a thick and creamy gravy. It’s worth the extra five to ten minutes to gradually incorporate the liquid.
Otherwise, it’s pretty much the same recipe. Yams work great in the microwave, so they’re almost no extra work, and they give the dish a delicious sweetness and a beautiful color. In fact, I find this dish so pretty that I’d serve it to company, even though it definitely cooks up like a homey, weeknight meal. Don’t let the gravy intimidate you—this is a perfect dish for a beginner cook to make to impress their loved ones.
I’ll be back soon (I hope!) with more cover cooking—as soon as my stomach is up to par!
Turkey Shepherd’s Pie
1 1/3 lb. ground turkey (93% lean)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large yam
1 large red potato, peeled and cut into even cubes (the smaller the cube, the faster they cook)
3 Tbsp. butter, divided
1 large shallot, chopped
8 oz. button mushrooms, sliced
1 c. frozen mixed vegetables
3/4 tsp. salt, separated
3/4 tsp. pepper, separated
1/4 c. 1% milk
2 Tbsp. flour
3/4 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 c. broth
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Poke holes in the sweet potato with a fork. Microwave on high approximately 10 minutes until inside is soft. Remove from microwave and let cool slightly (until it can be handled—you can use pot holders if you want to work immediately, but I only recommend this if they are easily washable, like silicon mitts). When cooled, cut the potatoes in half width-wise. Scoop out filling with a spoon and mash with a fork.
Meanwhile, put the potatoes in a pot of salted water and bring to a boil. Boil for approximately 15 minutes until potatoes are fork-tender (when you stab them, they should slide off the fork immediately). When potatoes are done, drain water out of the pot. Add 1 Tbsp. butter, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper, and 1/4 cup of milk, and mash with a potato masher. Add more milk as needed and salt and pepper to taste. Potatoes should not be completely smooth. They should have a slight texture to them still and a few soft lumps. Mix the white potatoes and the sweet potatoes in until evenly distributed. Set aside.
Heat non-stick pan over medium high heat. Add olive oil. When oil is hot, add ground turkey. Saute, breaking turkey into small bits, for about 10 minutes, until most of the turkey is no longer pink. Add the vegetables. Saute for another 5 minutes until the veggies are no longer frozen (they don’t need to be fully cooked). Remove meat and veggies from pan and set aside.
Add 2 Tbsp. butter to pan and melt. Add the shallots and saute about 2 minutes until turning slightly translucent at the edges. Add mushrooms and cook until they begin browning and releasing their liquid (about 5 minutes). Add poultry seasoning, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Cook for another few minutes until the mixture is aromatic, adjusting seasoning to taste.
Sprinkle the flour over the mushroom mixture. Slowly begin adding broth, a few teaspoons at a time, while stirring constantly. The broth should mix into the flour completely before adding the next few teaspoons. The mixture will go from a paste, to a lumpy liquid, to a smooth, semi-thick sauce. Let the sauce come up to a simmer and cook until it has thickened to the consistency a Thanksgiving gravy (approximately 3-5 minutes). If the gravy gets too thick, you can always thin it out with more broth. Remove from heat. Add the turkey back into the gravy and mix until the gravy evenly coats the meat and veggies.
Grease a small casserole dish (I used a 1 1/2 quart dish). Add the turkey, veggie, and gravy mixture to the casserole. Top with the potatoes and smooth out with a spoon so the top is nice and even. Don’t press down too much—you don’t want the potatoes to be pushing down into the meat, just resting on top. Sprinkle the top evenly with parmesan cheese. Bake for about 25 minutes until the potatoes are hot and the parm is lightly browned. I recommend serving in a bowl so you can scoop up all of the gravy.