Sunday, March 13, 2011

Shepherd's Pie

I used to make this recipe with ground beef, but the last time around I substituted with ground turkey instead (keeping things healthy) and I think it tastes just as good. When using ground turkey in a recipe (Jennie-O brand is my fav), I always opt for the 93/7 lean, which has 68% less fat than regular ground beef. The extra lean (1.5 g. fat/serving) is even healthier, but tastes like dry, mealy cardboard to me. 

A delicious and hearty dish that personifies comfort food.

5 large russet or 1 10-lb. bag of Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, or to taste
2-3 cups half and half

3 lbs. ground beef or ground turkey
1 medium onion, diced
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 8-oz. pkg. of button mushrooms, sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 medium carrots or 1 large carrot, diced
1 cup frozen peas
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 tsp. nutmeg (to taste)
1/4 tsp. dried or 1 tsp. fresh thyme (optional)
2 tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
2 tbsp. tomato paste
4 cups water  and 1 1/4 cups of bulk Brown Gravy mix)
Salt & black pepper

1. Place potatoes in cold, salted water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook 15 minutes or until just tender. Drain potatoes & mash with a potato masher or pass through a ricer (my preferred method). Stir in butter and enough half and half (approx. 2 cups) to the potatoes to get it to the consistency that you like. Season with salt & pepper. I like to add more half & half up front, as the potatoes will soak up all the excess moisture as they sit and will stay super creamy. Using an electric hand beater, beat the potatoes on medium for about 10-15 seconds to get out most of the lumps - DO NOT overbeat, or your mash potatoes will get gummy. Set aside.

2. Heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil in a deep saute pan. Add onion & cook about 5 minutes until they are softened and begin to brown. Season with a bit of salt and pepper. 

3. Add ground beef or turkey and cook for several minutes until meat starts to brown - a potato masher works great to break up the meat. Add mushrooms and cook until meat is cooked through & mushrooms are softened. Season with a little salt and pepper.

3. Add carrots & celery to the meat mixture and sweat for about 5 minutes. Add peas and cook 1-2 minutes. Stir in parsley, nutmeg, thyme, tomato paste and Worcestershire Sauce. Bring mixture to a boil.

4. Add in gravy mix, bring back up to a boil, and cook for about 5-7 minutes until sauce is thickened. Taste and season as needed. 

5. Preheat oven to 400F. Pour meat mixture into a large casserole dish or in individual baking dishes or tins. Top with mashed potatoes. Using a fork, make streaks across the top of the mashed potatoes. You can also put the mashed potatoes into a pastry bag with a large star tip and pipe on top (this makes for a nicer presentation).

6. Bake 30-40 minutes until golden. Let rest 5-10 minutes before serving. 

Place peeled potatoes in a pot of cold water (if potatoes are really big, cut them in half). Season water with a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium. Cook about 20 minutes or until potatoes are just tender (stick a fork in it - you'll know when they're done).

Drain the potatoes.

With a potato masher, blend in butter and half and half. Season with salt & pepper.

Give the potatoes a quick run-through with the electric hand beater to remove any lumps. Alternatively, you can run the potatoes through a potato ricer for a smoother texture. Set aside.

Chop the onion, carrots & celery into approximately same-sized pieces (so they'll all cook evenly in about the same amount of time).

Worcestershire Sauce, thyme, nutmeg & parsley flake (in case I don't have the fresh stuff on hand, I substitute 1 tbsp. of dried parsley flake for the 1/3 cup of fresh parsley).

I get the McCormick's Brown Gravy Mix from Costco. You can also substitute with those brown gravy mix packets that are readily available in most supermarkets (1 packet usually makes 1 cup of gravy, so use 4 packets for 4 cups of gravy).

4 cups of brown gravy mix.

Clockwise from lower left: fresh thyme, dried parsley flake, nutmeg, Worcestershire Sauce, frozen peas.

Saute onions in 2 tsp. olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Add ground turkey (or beef). 

When meat is browned, add sliced mushrooms and cook until softened.

Add carrots & celery & saute about 5 minutes. Check for seasoning.

Stir in peas and cook 1-2 minutes.

Stir in parsley, nutmeg, Worcestershire Sauce, tomato paste and thyme.

Add gravy mixture.

Bring mixture back up to a boil and cook 5-7 minutes (or longer), until sauce is thickened. Season with black pepper.

Pour meat mix into a large casserole dish.

Top with the mashed potatoes and use a fork to make streaks on top of the potatoes. Place casserole on a baking sheet in case anything oozes over the sides during cooking (otherwise, you'll have tons of fun cleaning the oven afterwards).

After about an hour, the casserole comes out of the oven. Let rest 5-10 minutes before serving.

Now that's good eats!

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