When I think of comfort food, I immediately think of meat and potatoes. There is nothing more comforting to me than tucking into a piping hot slice of shepherd's pie, especially during the cold winter months. The well-balanced combination of fluffy mashed potatoes and savory ground meat illustrates just how perfect of a dish shepherd's pie really is. So, what makes this recipe different from the others? I make it with ground turkey! A ground turkey shepherd's pie is everything you need in life right now.
I know, some of you are groaning. I'm not sure how this happened, but somewhere along the way, ground turkey meat got a bad reputation. However, you must trust me on this one. Ground turkey makes the most awesome shepherd's pie and this recipe is my proof. An added bonus: ground turkey has a lower amount of saturated fat than ground beef. It's just another reason to plan on making this ground turkey shepherd's pie recipe for your next Sunday dinner.
Wait, Isn't This Cottage Pie?
Why, yes. This dish is technically a cottage pie. Shepherd's pie is an Irish dish, traditionally made with ground lamb meat (hence "shepherd"). Cottage pie is an English dish, traditionally made with any type of ground meat.
So, why am I calling my dish "shepherd's pie?" Because most people don't know the difference (unless they read my blog). Many people think any dish that contains ground meat with mashed potato topping is called "shepherd's pie." I'm here to educate, but I also want people who are looking for an amazing cottage OR shepherd's pie recipe to look no further!
What Makes This Ground Turkey Shepherd's Pie So Awesome?
My friend, you are in for a real treat with this recipe. It contains the most delicious combination of meat, sweet carrots, corn, and peas. The meat and vegetables create a delightful, rich gravy as they simmer together. The gravy contains beef broth, red wine, and balsamic vinegar. The mashed potatoes are cooked in salted water, which results in more even and subtle seasoning.
Okay, my mouth is watering just writing about this! Seriously, it is so good. The best part of the recipe is that you can adjust it slightly to fit your culinary needs.
Special Dietary Tweaks
As with all of my recipes, if I can think of ways to tweak a recipe to make it fit different dietary needs, I mention it. Here are some tweaks you can make with this recipe:
- Meat substitutions: You can make this recipe a traditional shepherd's pie by substituting ground lamb for the ground turkey. Or, if you and your family want a more traditional cottage pie, this recipe is great prepared with ground beef. You could even make it vegetarian by substituting the ground turkey for a ground meat substitute of your choice (you will also have to swap the beef broth for vegetable broth).
- For a low fat experience: Since this is a ground turkey shepherd's pie, you are already on the right track! If you are looking to make this recipe even lower in fat, you can make some low fat swaps with the mashed potatoes. You can substitute the butter for a butter substitute (just be sure it melts well) and you can swap the heavy cream for fat free half and half. I have made both of these swaps in the past and they do work.
- To make this a low carb meal: You can definitely substitute the potatoes with your favorite mashed cauliflower recipe of choice.
Recommended Side Dishes
Here are some delicious side dishes that will go beautifully with this ground turkey shepherd's pie:
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All of my posts contain my recommendations for essential tools. I have researched these tools. Many of them are already in my kitchen. The ones that are not come highly rated. I do the research so you don’t have to and I only recommend high-quality tools.
If you are just starting to furnish your kitchen with tools or if you are looking to expand your kitchen toolkit, be sure to reference Expert Guide: Equip Your Kitchen for Less Than $200. This guide contains links to all of the equipment items I recommend for a basic kitchen set up.
My essential tools when making this shepherd's pie recipe include the following:
Ground Turkey Shepherd's Pie
For the Mashed Potatoes
- 2 lbs. russet potatoes peeled and chopped into 1" cubes
- 1-2 heaping tbsp. salt
- ¼ cup half and half
- 4 tbsp. unsalted butter melted
- salt and pepper to taste
For the Meat
- 2 tbsp. olive oil extra virgin
- 1 large yellow onion diced
- 3 carrots peeled and diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 lbs. ground turkey
- 3 tbsp. flour all purpose
- ½ cup red wine
- ⅔ cup beef broth
- 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp. tomato paste
- 2 tbsp. fresh rosemary chopped
- 2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves chopped
- ½ cup corn fresh or frozen
- ½ cup green peas fresh or frozen
- salt and pepper to taste
Start the Potatoes
- After you peel and cube the potatoes, add them to a large saucepot or stockpot. Fill the pot with cold water until the water level covers the potatoes by about an inch.
- Add 1-2 heaping tablespoons of salt to the water and stir with a large spoon. Don't worry, the potatoes will cook in the salty water but they won't come out overly salty.
- Set the stove temperature to high and bring the potatoes to a boil.
- Boil the potatoes for 10-12 minutes, until they are fork-tender. While the potatoes cook, prepare the filling.
Prepare the Filling
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat.
- Add onion and carrots to the pan and cook over medium-high heat until translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add minced garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- Add 2 lbs. of ground turkey and brown, stirring and mixing until there is no pink. Season the mixture with a large pinch of salt and pepper.
- Sprinkle the meat mixture with 3 tablespoons of all purpose flour and cook for 2 minutes. If brown bits begin to develop at the bottom of the pan - awesome! That's the good stuff!
- Deglaze the pan with red wine, scraping the brown bits up from the bottom of the pan (I like to use a wooden spoon for this). Add beef broth and stir.
- Add Worcestershire Sauce, balsamic vinegar, tomato paste, rosemary, and thyme leaves. Season with one more large pinch of salt and pepper. Stir and then simmer the mixture for about 15 minutes.
- Add peas and corn, stir and cook for 2 more minutes. Add mixture to a deep casserole dish.
Finish the Potatoes and Bake the Shepherd's Pie
- When the potatoes are fork-tender, drain them and place them in a large mixing bowl.
- Stir butter and half and half into the potatoes.
- Using a hand mixer, whip the potatoes until they are light and fluffy and there are no lumps. Taste the mixture and season with a pinch of salt, if needed. (The salty water should have seasoned the potatoes).
- Spread the potato mixture on top of the meat filling, making sure to create a seal of potatoes around the edge of the casserole dish. Create a design on top of the potatoes by dragging a fork across the top.
- Place casserole dish on a large sheet pan (in case of bubbling over). Bake in the oven for 25 minutes. Allow casserole to cool for 10 minutes before serving.