After Derek’s glowing diagnoses on Monday he was super excited to eat! While he was certainly on the road to recovery after the C. Diff incident, he was still pretty wary of eating anything but rice cakes and peanut butter. Who could blame him? I had a few things in the fridge, so I did an ingredient search and decided to make a version of Shepherd’s Pie that I would like. Read: one that does not include peas. There was really no danger of peas ending up in there because I don’t allow them in the house. I’m not certain of the exact origin of my hatred of peas, but I do recall an incident early in my eating career of being made to stay in the dining room until I at least tried the peas. I fell asleep in my chair. Point to tiny Logan. Back to the Shepherd’s Pie.
Available in our fridge/pantry: ground turkey, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, fresh rosemary, butternut squash and red potatoes. It sounded good to me, so we got to work.
First I diced up some onions and got them going in the skillet with a little olive oil. Then I added diced carrots and butternut squash. We are seriously devoted to our love of orange around here.
Next Derek and I got into an argument about whether or not we actually had celery in the crisper. I lost because we did. As a side note, in the past month I have met 3 people who loathe celery! I like celery, but I am never one to disparage another person’s food dislikes. Peas are just the tip of the iceberg people. Derek took it upon himself to chop up the celery since his previous task of prepping potatoes was complete and the taters were well on their way to a future of being mashed.
At this point I added in a couple of cloves of mashed up garlic. We recently replaced our OXO garlic press with this. It is excellent. Next the ground turkey goes into the pan. The recipe I adapted for this dinner called for ground lamb which I think sounds amazing, but I personally believe ground meat is ground meat so huck in what you have. And if you’re vegetarian, I like that Morningstar Farms crumble stuff. It does a great job of taking on the flavors of the dish and has a good texture. OR there’s always delicious mushrooms! Man, I love mushrooms.
Next comes the seasoning. But first, sprinkle a little flour over this mixture to help it thicken. Then it gets broth, a bit of Worcestershire sauce, and ketchup. Or tomato paste. If you have that tube of tomato paste in your fridge, this is the perfect use for it since it just needs a little. I wasn’t willing to open up a can of paste for this so I used ketchup. It was Martha Stewart’s idea, I swear. All of this gets cooked until the sauciness thickens up a bit.
Then we put it in our sweet little Le Creuset casserole dish. We got this beauty at an antique store for $20! Derek thought it was ceramic at first and didn’t think it was that good of a deal. I finally convinced him it was enameled cast iron and a VERY good deal. Why he insists on arguing with me about things that are metal is beyond me. Engineers are so cute.
We mashed the potatoes–which I failed to photograph–with some melted butter, milk and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Then Derek carefully sculpted the potatoes on top of the vegetable/meat mixture to ensure crispy brown bits.
The whole thing gets popped in the oven at 400 degrees, on top of a baking sheet, and cooks for 20 to 25 minutes or until the top of the potatoes get gloriously browned.
Then you have to let it rest for a bit or you’ll burn your face off. That’s it! Here’s the complete recipe I adapted from an Alton Brown Food Network post:
Pea-Free Shepherd’s Pie
Yield 4 Servings
For the potatoes (you’ll have enough for left overs, which is a good thing):
- 1 1/2 pounds red skinned potatoes, scrubbed
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup whole milk
For the filling:
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 a large yellow onion, diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 1/2 cup butternut squash, peeled and diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed or whatever
- 1/2 pound ground turkey
- 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon ketchup or tomato paste
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
Scrub the potatoes really well if you’re leaving the skins on them. Scrub them less well if you decide to peel them. Cut into 1/2-inch dice. Place in a pan and cover with cold water. Add salt to the water. Set over high heat, cover, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, uncover, decrease the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until tender and easily crushed with tongs, about 10 – 15 minutes. Once cooked drain potatoes and return to the pan. Add melted butter, milk, salt and pepper and mash ’em up.
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the filling. Heat up a 12″ pan, then add the olive oil over medium high heat. Once the oil shimmers, or you get sick of waiting, add the onions and cook for a while, maybe 3-5 minutes. Then add the carrots, squash and celery and cook some more. Then add the garlic and cook a little longer. Once all the vegetables look a little brown and tender, add in the ground meat. Cook until no longer pink. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture, stir it up and let it cook a little longer. Then add the ketchup, broth, Worcestershire, rosemary, thyme and stir to combine. Cook until the sauce thickens. For me, this happened without boiling the mix; there wasn’t that much sauce when I made it. You may need to turn the heat up to get it to boil, then lower to a simmer and cook until thickened.
Spread this mix into the pan of your choosing. Top with mashed potatoes to cover the whole thing. We used a fork to make little peaks in the mash to make sure that some of the bits got browned and crispy. And because it looks pretty. Place the casserole on a pan and bake in the middle of the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the potatoes just start to brown. Remove to a cooling rack and force yourself to wait about 15 minutes before eating so you don’t burn your face. Bon Appetit!