What comfort foods did you grow up with? On busy uninspired night, my mom would turn to mashed potatoes and ground beef and that combination still makes me just as happy as it did when I was a little girl with bangs in round blue glasses. But for the longest time, my kids were completely grossed out by mashed potatoes. It made no sense to me. How could anyone turn up their noses at this glorious blend of potatoes, butter, heavy cream and milk?
Then last year, something changed. One by one, the kids were won over. “How could I not have liked mashed potatoes before,” they asked, mouths full of the glorious tater. I just shook my head, not wanting to say the wrong thing, and have these mysterious, fickle creatures go off mashed potatoes again, which would be an unbearable tragedy.
With mashed potatoes on the approved list, Sheperds Pie was now fair game! Sheperds Pie: the greatest one pan dinner of all time. Spooning a heap of Sheperds Pie makes me feel like I just walked into a cozy English pub on a rainy nights, the definition of comfort, happiness on a plate.
You can’t have great shepherds pie with average mashed potatoes. I like medium sized yukon gold potatoes for their color and their taste, not quite as sweet as red skinned potatoes. Boil the potatoes, give them a few minute of high heat to get excess moisture out, then mash them with a combination of salted butter, heavy cream and milk. Heaven. Be sure to make extra for leftovers!
I prefer to make Sheperds Pie with ground turkey instead of ground beef, to lighten things up a bit. As far as I’m concerned, having a thick cover of mashed potatoes is a great reason to stud the meat with a bunch of veggies and spices, a little excitement under the sheets. I give the turkey some exotic notes with the addition of cinnamon and raisins and a splash of sherry. Finally, I round things out with plenty of carrots, peas and a little corn for added color.
My love of cheese knows no bounds, so I round out my sheperds pie with a sprinkle of grated cheddar. Swiss cheese would be fine as well. You could also leave your mashed potatoes plain, and no one would judge you.
- 2 pounds of ground turkey meat
- ¼ cup of sherry
- ½ sweet onion, diced small
- 6 carrots, peeled and cut into small dice
- ¾ cups of frozen peas
- ¼ cup of frozen corn
- ½ cup of raisins
- 8 large idaho potatoes
- 4 tablespoons of butter
- ½ cup of heavy cream
- ½ cup of milk, more if consistency is not smooth enough
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- salt and pepper to taste
- First, make the mashed potatoes. Peel and quarter the potatoes. Boil until a knife can be inserted easily.
- Drain the water. Put the pieces back in the pan and cook over high heat, tossing frequently, for a minute, to dry out the excess water.
- Using either a potato ricer or a potato masher, mash the potatoes. A ricer is the best way to get those perfectly smooth potatoes, but I only use it on special occasion nights. When I'm in a rush, the potato masher will do, leaving a lumpier texture.
- Once the potatoes are mashed, add the butter, cut into tablespoon chunks. Add the heavy cream and mash. Finish with the milk. Take a look at the consistency, if it's way too chunky, add another ¼ cup of milk and mash until as smooth as you like them.
- Now time to cook your meat. Brown the turkey meat with the onions, on medium heat for 10 minutes. Now add the sherry and cinnamon and give the bottom of the pan a good scrape to blend with the liquid. Cook for 3 minutes until the liquid is evaporated.
- Now add the carrots, peas and corn. Cook for another 5 minutes until softened.
- Layer the meat in a 9x12 pyrex pan. Cover with the mashed potatoes. Grate ½ cup of cheddar cheese (if you like cheese) on top. Cook at 375 degrees fahrenheit for 30 minutes.