We are meat and potatoes people through and through. Lloyd comes from Irish stock and likes nothing more than a simple and hearty meal. My Indian taste buds want something with a little extra oomph of spice. And my common sense tells me that eating red meat and white potatoes isn’t the healthiest option. So I’ve tweaked the traditional Shepherd’s Pie recipe to something that meets everyone’s needs. Also, I made this Shepherd’s pie ahead of time, froze it, and then assembled it at an AirBnB where we were staying with a group of friends. So, if you are looking for a good “cook and take” recipe this is an excellent option.
So to get started I did a little mise en place and chopped up my onions, carrots, mushrooms, rosemary and thyme. If you’ve read my Chicken Pot Pie recipe you will see a lot of similarities in the strategy and flavors. Once you know the basic patterns of cooking it’s easy to extrapolate those ideas to other recipes. But, I digress. First step is always sweating your onions.
I used my dutch oven for this recipe because the thick walls retains a constant heat better and is more forgiving if you forget to stir. Once your onions are well and sweated meaning they have gotten that glistening look to them but they aren’t burnt or starting to turn brown it’s time to add your carrots.
Your carrots will start to cook, you know they are ready when the sharp edges begin to blunt and they get a shiny appearance to them. Now it’s time to add in your meat and herbs. Also you should be seasoning at every step. I always use salt, pepper and garlic powder. Also keep some low sodium chicken stock handy. This is excellent to splash in and deglaze when things get a little sticky.
Once your meat is cooked down add in a hefty scoop of flour. This is totally optional if you are going the gluten free route feel free to skip this step. The flour is just used to thicken the gravy. You can always substitute arrowroot powder at the end. Also add in your peas and mushrooms once the meat is cooked.
Add in a heavy, heavy splash of chicken stock and turn your heat down and let it simmer while you fix your sweet potatoes. Peel and boil like another potato once they are soft enough to smash easily with the back of a fork transfer the potatoes into a mixing bowl and add in some stone ground mustard, parmesan cheese, heavy cream, salt, pepper and garlic. Reserve some of that lovely, starchy water from the sweet potatoes to help fluff up your mash and then get to mixing! I use a kitchen aid. I’m lazy.
You want your mash a little extra runny because that way they don’t dry out when you bake it.
At this point you have a two options. Go ahead and assemble or bag it up, freeze and save it for later. And a secret third option; freeze half, cook the other half. I went the freezing route because we weren’t going to eat our pie for another few days.
Assembling is as easy as reheating the meat in a crockpot or on the stove and placing the bag of sweet potatoes into a bowl of warm water. I layered the meat onto the bottom of an aluminum pan that I brought with me and cut a hole in a corner of the sweet potato bag and squeezed it on. I decorated the top with some fancy fork work and add a layer of fresh shaved gruyere because cheese is the best. Then it’s time to bake. The boys were so excited!
Quick tip on leftovers. I just bagged the whole thing and froze it. When we get home I’ll unfreeze it and probably bake it into a quiche.
- 3 lbs of ground turkey
- 1 red onion
- 1 large carrot
- 1 bag of frozen peas
- 8 oz container of baby bella mushrooms
- 2-3 Tbsp of chopped rosemary and thyme
- 1 can of tomato paste
- 3 Tbsp flour
- 1 box of low sodium chicken stock
- Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste
- 4 medium sweet potatoes
- 2 Tbsp of heavy cream
- 4 oz parmesan cheese
- 1 Tbsp stone ground mustard
- Salt, pepper and garlic powder taste
- Chop your onions, carrots, mushrooms, rosemary and thyme while your pan heats with a glut of olive oil in it.
- Add your onions and let them sweat, season with salt, pepper and garlic powder
- Add you carrots and let them get sweaty, season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Use stock to deglaze as needed.
- Add in the meat and let it cook down until it crumbles, season with salt pepper and garlic powder
- Once the meat is mostly cooked add in the dried herbs
- Once everything is soft and crumbly add in your flour and mix it around until everything is coated.
- Pour in whatever is left in your chicken stock container and add in your tomato paste.
- This is also the time to add in your peas and mushrooms.
- Reduce heat and simmer until sauce is thickened. Check seasoning and adjust accordingly.
- Peel and chop sweet potatoes and add to pot of well salted water.
- Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are fork soft.
- Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl and mix until soft. Use potato water to get the consistency you require.
- Freeze or assemble.
- Layer casserole dish or baking pan with fulling mixture. Pipe or spoon on the sweet potatoes. Smooth with a spatula. Decorate with a fork if you want and top with cheese if you want.
- Bake at 400 for 30-45 minutes until crust is golden and bubbling.