Thanksgiving Day Shepherd’s Pie


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This is probably the worst time of year to be living in temporary housing. It’s the holidays and I don’t have any of my own kitchen stuff to cook with. To improvise this year, I decided to put together a few dishes that required very little prep work.

You gotta have turkey on Thanksgiving. It’s sacrilegious not to. So I opted for ground turkey. I made a super easy Shepherd’s Pie by layering pre-cooked stuffing (bought at Trader Joe’s), ground turkey mixture using my favorite vegetables (mushrooms and onions) and Asiago cheese mashed potatoes. I’m providing a basic recipe. I didn’t do much measuring, so keep that in mind while you’re proceeding.

There are a few things I would have changed about this recipe, namely cutting up the mushrooms, decreasing the amount of mashed potatoes (one pound should do it!) and perhaps increasing the amount of stuffing. The stuffing seemed to disintegrate under the weight of the meat and potatoes. That being said, cutting back on the potatoes may solve the problem by itself. Since I LOVE stuffing, I would have liked for the stuffing to have been a bigger presence in this dish. I think this recipe could work well with leftover turkey the day after Thanksgiving, too!

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ingredients.

  • 1 package pre-prepared stuffing
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 12 oz. crimini mushrooms, washed with stems removed
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 T. butter
  • 1 T. flour
  • dry white wine, just a splash
  • 2 lbs. baby golden potatoes
  • whole milk
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • Asiago cheese, grated
  • salt and pepper to taste

directions.

  1. Remove stuffing from its packaging and pat into the bottom of a 9-inch pie dish. If you have a deep-dish pie dish, you’ll wanna use it. My pie was exploding from my modest 9-inch dish.
  2. Cook ground turkey over medium heat breaking it up as it cooks. Before it starts to brown, toss in the mushrooms (mine were small, so I left them whole) and onions. If you have some minced garlic you could add that, too. I don’t have a mincer right now, so I opted not to add any garlic. Cook until meat is browned and onions and mushrooms have softened. Salt and pepper to taste.
  3. At this point I felt as though my meat mixture was a little dry. I didn’t want dry Shepard’s Pie so I decided to make a bit of a sauce to put into the meat. Because the pan I was using to brown the meat was so tiny, I dumped the meat out into a bowl. Then I added the one tablespoon of butter and let it melt and mixed in the flour. I added just a bit of wine to make the mixture the slightest bit runny and then poured some milk in. I then added the meat mixture back into the pan mixed it all together. I added more milk to ensure there was a gravy-like mixture. Then I layered the meat mixture on top of the stuffing. Make sure you taste the meat mixture to ensure it’s salty enough.
  4. Next cook the potatoes. I know there’s an actual method to boiling potatoes but I don’t really know what it is. Here’s what I did. I set the potatoes in a pot of water. Whole. Didn’t cut ’em. Then I added some salt to the water and two whole cloves of garlic (peeled). Then I let the potatoes boil away (forgot about ’em  – whoops!) until they fell off my fork when I punctured them. I drained the water and threw the potatoes in a bowl. It was a damn small bowl (everything in my temporary kitchen is small, don’t you know) so I ended up using two bowls at some point. I added milk, 1/2 cup butter and some Asiago cheese. Oh and some salt and oregano. Just a pinch of oregano. I’ve read that you shouldn’t add cold milk to warm potatoes because it makes the potatoes gummy. Since my only pots were either in use or in the dishwasher at the time I was making the potatoes, I opted to add the cold milk to the potatoes. I tried to let the milk warm up a bit as it sat in the hot potatoes before mashing. But really later on I added a bunch more milk until I got the consistency I was looking for. Really, mashed potatoes should be about your personal taste – unless you run a restaurant. Then I guess you want things portioned and consistent.
  5. I mounded the entire two pounds of potatoes (minus a few forkfuls that I had to taste) onto the pie dish, doming the potatoes like it was a big dome of whipped cream on a pie. Then I sprinkled it with Asiago cheese. A big sprinkling. OK I doused the dome of mashed potatoes with Asiago cheese.
  6. I had no idea at what temperature or how long I should cook this monstrosity. Alton Brown’s Shepard Pie recipe suggests you should cook something like this at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes. Of course he uses a completely different pan and doesn’t have a dome of mashed potatoes on his dish. I decided to bake mine for 45, especially because I had prepped it the night before and pulled it out of the fridge cold.

Writing this blog reminded me of a story I was telling my new coworkers recently about the time I worked for the Cheesecake Factory and received a secret shopper score of 17%, in part, because I didn’t know how to describe crimini mushrooms to the “guest” when she asked what a crimini mushroom was. Though I had fielded other food-related questions and answered them just fine, she wrote me up as “un-knowledgeable” for not knowing what a crimini mushroom was. She was very specific in her write-up. I can’t make this sh*t up. For the record, I don’t think I’ve ever received a score below an 80% on anything. Ever. That 17% and crimini mushrooms haunt me to this day. In case you were wondering, crimini mushrooms are an immature and brown edible mushroom. When immature and white, you know these mushrooms as white or button mushrooms. Immature and brown they are crimini and mature and brown, they are Portobello. Essentially all these mushrooms I thought were different my entire life are actually the “same.” You can use that as trivia the next time you want to stump someone.

Recipe rating:  1/2

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