Around the Holidays, we at Big City Little Kitchen like to indulge in healthier versions of that which we would normally consume. Recently, we “healthified” shepherd’s pie. Shepherd’s pie is typically made with 1 lb of ground beef or lamb, peas, carrots, onions, and topped with 1 lb of mashed potatoes. It is the baked in the oven so that the potatoes crisp up on top. It’s delicious and comforting, and it will warm you up on a cold winter night faster than you can say “maybe I’ll have another helping.”
To make it healthier, we switched out the meat for lean, ground turkey. Then we cut some of the starch and loaded up on the veggies. If you really want to improve on the nutritional value, you can switch out white potatoes for sweet potatoes. We would have done this if we didn’t already have russet potatoes that needed to be used. After all, we’re on a budget and not about to waste what we have. Here’s the skinny. No pun intended.
What you need (4-6 servings):
- 1lb lean turkey
- 2 large potatoes
- 2 cups of diced carrots
- 1 bag of frozen peas
- 1/2 yellow onion
- 3 tbsp of marmite or 2 beef cubes
- salt and pepper
- 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
- a colander
- 2 pots
- 1 pan
- 1 potato peeler
- 1 potato masher
What you need for gravy (4-6 not-so-healthy servings):
- 2 cups beef broth
- 2 tbsp marmite or 2 beef cubes
- 2-4 tbsp flour
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees, and start 2 pots of boiling water on the stove. Peel and chop 2 large potatoes and peel and dice the carrots. You can put in as many carrots as you like, and we went with about 2 cups. In a large pot, boil the chopped carrots until they are fork tender. Boil the potatoes in the other pot until they are soft enough to be mashed.
Finely chop 1/2 a yellow onion and let them sweat in a large frying pan over medium heat. Once translucent, add the ground turkey. Salt and pepper the meat in the pan, and use the potato masher to break the meat up. Hint: Unlike beef, it is imperative that you cook the turkey 100% through. It will not brown the way beef or lamb does, so don’t worry about that.
When the turkey is about 3/4 of the way cooked through, add 2 dollops of marmite- about 2 tablespoons- or 2 beef cubes. This will add a beefy flavor- although 100% vegetarian- that the turkey lacks.
When the turkey is 100% cooked through, pour it into a glass pyrex dish. Hint: There’s no need to drain the meat, like there would be if you were using beef or lamb. The turkey is too lean for that, and a little liquid in the shepherd’s pie will keep it from drying out.
Drain the carrots and pour them into pyrex dish. Then pour the frozen peas- straight from the bag- on top. They will cook through in the oven. If you have canned peas, you can use them instead, but we find frozen peas to be more flavorful and nutrient-rich. Use a fork or a spoon to incorporate everything together.
Mash the boiled potatoes with a couple tablespoons of butter and a splash of milk or cream. Salt and pepper to taste, then spread a thin layer on top of the turkey and vegetable mixture. Use a fork to create ridges in the potatoes. This helps the top crisp up and makes the shepherd’s pie really delicious.
Stick the shepherd’s pe in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown on top.
If you feel so inclined, pour a generous helping of gravy over your shepherd’s pie. And let’s face it, who doesn’t feel inclined to commit such a delicious (and harmless) sin?
Pour 2 cups of beef broth into a pot and bring to a boil. Add 2 beef cubes or 2 dollops of marmite for flavor and let it simmer. Whisk in 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour to thicken the gravy. Feel free to add a little more, if necessary, but remember when you remove from the heat it will thicken naturally as well.
Let it simmer on the stove on a low heat for 5-10 minutes, then pour it directly over your pie.
Serve and enjoy!