Sunday, January 2, 2011

January 2: Smoky Turkey Shepherd's Pie

   Coarse Salt
3 large Idaho potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 pound bacon or turkey bacon, chopped
1 package (about 1 1/3 pounds) ground turkey
1 tablespoon plus a sprinkle smoked paprika or substitute 1 1/2 teaspoons each of sweet paprika and cumin
   Coarse black pepper
2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, diced
3 celery ribs from the heart, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
2 cups frozen peas
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock or broth
1 cup sour cream
1 large egg, beaten
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
10 to 12 fresh chives, chopped or snipped
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, salt it, and cook the potatoes while you make the turkey filling.

Heat a deep, large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the EVOO to the skillet, then add the bacon and brown it up.
Drain off the excess fat, then add the turkey to the pan and break it up with a wooden spoon. Season the turkey with the smoked paprika, salt, pepper, and thyme.
When the turkey is browned, add the onions, carrots, and celery. Season the veggies with salt and pepper.
Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the red bell peppers and peas and cook for another 2 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Add the stock and combine. Stir in 1/2 cup of the sour cream and simmer the mixture over low heat.

Preheat the broiler to high.

When the potatoes are tender (10 to 12 minutes), stir a ladle of the cooking water into the egg, then drain the potatoes. Return the potatoes to the warm pot to dry them out a little. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of sour cream, the butter, and salt and pepper. Smash and mash the potatoes, mashing in the beaten, tempered egg. If the potatoes are too tight, mix in a splash of milk.

Pour the turkey mixture into a medium casserole dish. Top with the smashed potatoes and spread evenly. Place the casserole 5 inches from the hot broiler. Broil until the potatoes are golden at the edges. Garnish the casserole with the chives and a sprinkle of smoked paprika.

This recipe is just delicious. There is something light about the pie being made with turkey and all those vegetables. I altered the recipe just a little: she calls for fresh thyme, which is very expensive. Some recipes calling for fresh herbs shouldn't be changed, but I've found that I can always substitute dried thyme for fresh. Just use 2 teaspoons dry if the recipe calls for 2 tablespoons fresh. I made this after church today, and we had friends over. We are a family of 4 and they are a family of 5. So there were 4 grown-ups and 5 little ones. I added some fresh veggies and olives to round out the meal, but this was plenty. We ate it all up, but everyone was stuffed. Everyone really enjoyed the shepherd's pie. Once the ingredients were prepared, it took about 35 minutes to prepare it, but I was trying to entertain at the same time, so it probably would have been a true 30-minute meal otherwise (minus preparation- that took about 15-20 minutes.)

I used 8 smaller potatoes, because that's what I had. I used regular bacon. My husband does not like bell pepper, so I took a half of a red pepper, and put it in the food processor and pureed it, so he couldn't tell it was there. But I like them being there. It adds to the lightness of the dish. I used a large 13"x9" pan. It was larger than my medium casserole dish, which is better. When I've made this recipe in the past, it always almost spilled over the top, it was so full.

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