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Cheater’s Shepherd’s Pie

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This new post had two major motivations: (1) I’d signed up to make a dinner for a family who recently had a new baby, and (2) I was tired after a long and busy weekend, and so wanted to do something easy. That meant cooking from ingredients I had in the house rather than a shopping for specific ingredients, and using as few pans as possible.

I’ve made Shepherd’s Pie before. This recipe, I “faked.” Inspired by Mark Bittman’s strategy to simplify complicated recipes, I eliminated the time-consuming steps like mashing the potatoes and baking the entire casserole to create a crust. The herbs are based on what I remember from various shepherd’s pie recipes I’ve made in the past, so my apologies to any true connoisseurs for my cooking improvisation.

This dish has all the flavor but took a fraction of the time (less than half!), and only one dirty pan that I ran through the dishwasher.

I grabbed the fresh herbs from my deck, but used dried oregano because it was a longer haul out to my garden where that grows—a lazy dish indeed! And just in time for the cool weather.

Ingredients

  • 5 medium potatoes
  • 1 large onion (I used a red onion but any type will do)
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • One cup white cooking wine
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 8 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 bag frozen peas (12 ounces)
  • Olive oil for cooking
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Take the peas out of the freezer. You don’t need to defrost them, but this dish will cook faster if they’re not frozen solid.
  2. Wash, dry and dice the potatoes. Soak in a bowl of water to remove some of the starch. Just let them sit until you’re ready to use. I Idaho potatoes because that’s what we had, but I would have chosen red or yellow potatoes if I’d shopped. I don’t like peeling potatoes (as I’ve said, I don’t want to waste the fiber and nutrition), and the thinner skins on those types would work a bit better than the thicker skins of the Idahos.
  3. Dice onion. You’ll see in the photos that I used red onion, but any type will do.
  4. Warm up a large sauté pan on medium heat. When warm, add olive oil and swirl to coat (1-2 Tablespoons).
  5. Add onions, and sauté until they start to get translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Remove to a bowl.
  6. Add more olive oil to coat the pan. Add ground turkey, breaking it up and mushing it around to ensure no big lumps. This will take about 5 minutes.
  7. When the rawness is gone and turkey is well broken up, add cooking wine, oregano and bay leaf.
  8. Drain the potatoes and add to the pan along with the cooked onions.
  9. Cover and turn down the heat to a simmer (level 2 out of 10 on my stove). Cook for about 5 minutes.
  10. Mince rosemary and sage and add to the pan.
  11. Add peas and cover again to be sure potatoes are cooked to the proper doneness and peas are hot but not mushy—test after 2 or 3 minutes.
  12. Add salt and pepper to taste…or simply let diners add it at the table.
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