Monday, July 27, 2015

Turkey Shepherd's Pie

Turkey Shepherd's Pie

Often when I hit my neighborhood farmers market on Saturday morning, I have a plan for what I want to get and what I'll make with it during the following week. On a recent Saturday, however, I was struggling. I couldn't decide what I wanted to make! So, I set out for the New Morning Farm Saturday market at Sheridan School with the hope that the ingredients I found there would inspire my direction.

Sure enough, after picking up corn, a sweet onion, a couple carrots and a good handful of green beans, I decided to make Shepherd's Pie, the classic Irish dish of diced or ground meat, vegetables and gravy sealed with a layer of mashed potatoes and baked until the potatoes brown a bit on top. According to The Food Lover's Companion, the dish originated as a way to use leftovers from the "Sunday roast." I think it can be just as useful as a showcase for summer vegetables.

I used Alton Brown's recipe as a template for this Shepherd's Pie, but made some key changes. I used ground turkey instead of ground lamb, upped the ratio of vegetables-to-meat in the filling by adding corn, celery and green beans and omitted the egg from the potato topping, as it just didn't seem needed. This makes my version a little lighter and more "summery" than Brown's recipe.

Turkey Shepherd's Pie
Adapted liberally from Shepherd's Pie by Alton Brown for Food Network

1 1/2 lb. russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup half-n-half
Salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium sweet onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery ribs, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 oz. green beans, ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 lb. ground turkey (dark meat recommended)
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Corn kernels cut from 1 ear of corn

1. Preheat oven to 400 F.

2. Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with 1-inch of water. Place on the stove and bring to boil. Cook the potatoes until tender, then drain. Transfer potatoes to a large bowl. Add the butter and mash the potatoes with a potato masher or the back of a large spoon. Warm the half-n-half in the microwave and stir it into the potatoes along with salt and freshly ground white pepper.

3. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic and green beans and sauté until the ingredients have softened, about 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Add ground turkey to the pan and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until browned. Sprinkle the meat with the flour, toss to coat and cook for another minute. Add back the cooked vegetables, then add the tomato paste, chicken broth, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer covered for about 10 minutes to thicken the gravy. Stir in the corn and turn off the heat.

4. Transfer vegetable-gravy mixture to a 9 X 9 glass baking dish. Spread the mashed potatoes on top, making sure to "seal" the potatoes against the edge of the baking dish. Smooth the top with a spatula. Place the baking dish on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet and bake until the potatoes begin to brown, about 25-30. Remove from oven and set on a cooling rack to cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

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