Shepard's Pie

It’s been forever since I’ve shared something that was even remotely savory and since I’ve got a few sweet recipes lined up for the coming days, I figured today would be a good time to slip this one in.  The recipe caught my eye in a section in the February issue of Martha Stewart Living that featured lighter takes on comfort food.  Shepherd’s pie doesn’t necessarily scream “comfort food” to me as much as some of the other recipes in the section (especially the chicken parmigiana) but I had the ingredients on hand so it’s the one I tried first.  We used to have shepherd’s pie when I was a kid and though I don’t remember liking it all that much, I hoped my adult taste buds might have a more favorable opinion!

Shepard's Pie

Though shepherd’s pie is typically topped with mashed potatoes, this recipe also includes parsnips along with the potatoes.  Instead of using butter, cream, milk or any of the other ingredients that make mashed potatoes so yummy, plain fat-free yogurt is substituted (I used Greek yogurt).  I was skeptical, to say the least.  The topping ended up being my favorite part of this dish, though!  I loved the addition of the parsnips – they added just a bit of sweetness – and the yogurt really did make the topping creamy and delicious.  Lean ground turkey is used in place of ground beef to make the recipe lighter and chili powder is added for flavor since ground turkey can be pretty bland.  Carrots, celery, onion and peas are also included in the filling.  I haven’t learned to like peas yet so I substituted corn.  I made the shepherd’s pie in individual gratin dishes so I could add the corn only to mine and not Shane’s.  Still, he helped me make this dinner and saw the carrots, celery, onion, and parsnips so I knew it’d be a struggle to convince him this could be good, even with all of those veggies in there.  He ate it, but I suspect it was only to be a good sport.  I really enjoyed this dish though and will definitely make it again, but only on a night when I’m alone for dinner!

Finally, I’m happy to share that I was fortunate to be featured in Refrigerator Soup’s “Twenty Questions with our Favorite Food Bloggers” this week!  Refrigerator Soup is a site that shares gorgeous photos from food bloggers around the world and it’s a great place to discover new recipes and blogs as well as find inspiration.  You can check out my interview here if you’d like.

Shepherd’s Pie
from Martha Stewart Living, February 2010

Topping
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 parsnips (6 ounces), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup plain fat-free yogurt
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Filling
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
3 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds lean ground turkey
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
3/4 teaspoon chipotle or regular chili powder
2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
6 ounces frozen peas (about 1 1/2 cups) (I used corn instead)

Preheat oven to 425 F.

To make the topping: Place potatoes and parsnips in a medium saucepan, cover with water by 2 inches, and bring to a simmer.  Cook until fork tender, about 20 minutes.  Drain, reserving 2 cups cooking liquid.  Pass potatoes and parsnips through a ricer.  Stir in the yogurt and 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt.  Season with pepper to taste.

To make the filling: Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook onion, celery, carrots, and garlic, stirring, until tender, 10 to 12 minutes.  Add ground turkey; cook, breaking up any large pieces, for 5 minutes. Stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt, the thyme, and chili powder; season with pepper to taste.  Whisk together cornstarch and reserved 2 cups cooking liquid; add to turkey. Boil for 1 minute. Stir in peas.

Transfer to a 2-quart round or oval baking dish; top with potato/parsnip mixture.  Bake until filling is bubbling and top is browned (my topping never really browned, but the filling was bubbling and I was hungry, so I ate), about 35 minutes.