March’s Pie: Turkey Shepard’s Pie

Despite lots of suggestions from an overzealous coworker taking great interest in my year long pie challenge, I strayed from the obvious Mardi Gras and St. Pat’s themes for March and decided to make a Turkey Shepard’s Pie.  I wanted to do a healthy take on a classic dish.  I found the recipe at allrecipes.com and actually made very few changes to it.

For starters, here are the ingredients:

3 large potatoes
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 pound ground turkey
1 large carrot, shredded
1 (4.5 ounce) can sliced mushrooms
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
salt and pepper

You begin by peeling and chopping the potatoes and boiling them till soft.  Then, chop the onion and in another pot saute the onion with the olive oil.  To the onion, you add the carrots, parsley, garlic, thyme, mushrooms, and turkey.  Salt and pepper to taste and cook until the meat is broken up and cooked through.

You are also supposed to add the chicken bouillon to this mixture, then drain and stir in the flour.  I used extra lean turkey meat so I knew there would not be much liquid  to drain.  In fact, I thought the mixture might be a bit too dry so I added 1 cup of chicken stock instead of bouillon.  I also added the flour earlier to thicken it and cooked the mixture for about 15 minutes just until most of the liquid was gone and the turkey was thoroughly cooked. My only other change was doubling the mushrooms by using a larger can because I love mushrooms!  As you can see from the picture, this blend makes a really nice, almost Chinese food-looking, mix.

Back to the potatoes, you drain them and add the milk and butter and mash them.  Plain and simple, make your good ole mashed potatoes.  Salt and pepper to taste and done!  This is where I almost made another change but decided against it at the last minute.  On Saturday, I was at a restaurant for lunch and had Truffle Cauliflower soup – a simple but pleasant mixture of pureed cauliflower, truffle oil and butter.  Thinking about my turkey shepard’s pie, I thought a cauliflower blend might taste better on top than potatoes and might be a healthier and more unique option.  I could thicken it with a touch of corn starch or flower even.  But in the end, I decided to stick with potatoes.  So, consider cauliflower as the topping next time if you want to cut some more carbs and cals from this recipe.

Transfer your turkey mixture to a square baking or casserole dish and spread it out evenly. Then, top it with the potatoes and spread and swirl with a fork.  Pop it in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are golden brown on the top and you are done! Notice this recipe has no bread as a base like most shepard’s pie recipes.  It is a healthy alternative after all.

I served it with asparagus, flavored with olive oil and lemon juice, and topped with extra crispy turkey bacon.  How did it taste, you ask?  Wonderful!  It was definitely a nice meal and yes, I would totally make it again.  But, here are the changes I would make to it:

* The potatoes were boring to me.  They are just mashed potatoes after all.  I think I’d definitely try that cauliflower puree next time.

* I’d probably used a can of Philsbury croissant rolls as a bread base after all.  Without bread, it ended up being more of a Thanksgiving leftover  mash or even reminded me of a turkey pot pie.  It also doesn’t serve very well or keep a sliced shape so I think the bread would add to the taste and the presentation.

* The base had a good flavor it to just in itself but I think I’d add more seasonings to it.  Maybe some sage or cumin.  Just a hint.  But the carrots and thyme did give it a decent sweet flavor.

Like I said, overall I loved the dish and would definitely make it again!  And serving it with the asparagus and turkey bacon made it even better!

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