Happy New Year!!
I’m so happy and excited to (finally) share this recipe with you! It is very special to me and I’ve been planning to post it here on the blog for two years now.
This savory pie is a variation on one that my brother, Steven, used to make. Before his death, in our twenties, we got together often to cook and eat outrageous feasts. Sometimes they were glamorous-lobster and champagne. And sometimes they were simple, delicious, comfort foods, like Shepherd’s Pie. It was his favorite. He was a great skier, and for him, there was nothing better than a big bowl of this pie after a day on the mountain. This week (Jan 10th) would have been his 56th birthday, so this blog post is dedicated to him.
My brother made his Shepherd’s Pie with the traditional lamb, or sometimes with beef. And the topping was mashed potatoes. But I am not a lover of either lamb or beef, so my version substitutes organic turkey. Brian is home for another couple of weeks, and he, Bob and I are eating lower carb, so we decided to go with mashed cauliflower for the top. I promise, you won’t miss the potatoes.
This pie is the ultimate comfort food. Savory, hearty without being heavy, and incredibly satisfying. The filling is everything you want in a stew. The topping is dreamy-creamy. It would be good after a day on the slopes, in the office, or in the pottery studio. Piping hot and brown on top, this is one irresistible winter meal.
I use organic ground turkey here. Do no use the leanest, all white meat turkey or the stew will be dry. This is equally good with ground lamb, pork, beef, or chicken.
Though we are eating lower carb, the peas are so good in this, we decided to include them. If you are being really strict, leave them out. Paleo and Whole 30 folks, and you lactose intolerants can skip the cheese and the topping will still be lovely.
Organic ingredients for this dish are readily available here in Warwick. If you can get them where you live, use them.
1 ½ lbs ground turkey
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 cup frozen baby peas
1 tbs. tomato paste
3 tbs. white wine
½ cup chicken stock
1 tbs. neutral oil
1 medium head cauliflower
½ cup grated extra sharp cheddar
¼ cup grated parm
Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot. Saute the onions for a few minutes, then add the carrots. Cook over medium heat until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the turkey, and cook over medium-high heat, breaking up the meat, until mostly cooked, about 5 minutes. Clear a spot in the bottom of the pan, and add the tomato paste. Let that cook for a minute or two, and then add the wine. Stir and add the stock. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer and cook for 20 minutes or so.
While the stew cooks, prepare the cauliflower and preheat the oven to 400°. Trim the cauliflower and break into small florets. Place in a medium pot and add just an inch or so of water and a good sprinkle of salt. Cook, covered, over high heat until the cauliflower is very soft when poked with a knife, about 15 minutes. Keep an eye out and make sure the pot doesn’t go dry, if the water is evaporating too fast, add a bit.
Use a slotted spoon to place the cooked cauliflower into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the cheddar, and process until incorporated.
Choose four oven safe bowls or ramekins that will hold at least 2 cups. Or an 8 or 9 inch square, oval, or round baking dish or shallow casserole. Divide the stew among the bowls or place in the baking dish. Top with the cauliflower/cheese mixture. Sprinkle the tops with the parm. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until piping hot and browned on top. Serve immediately.
This reheats very well in the oven or microwave, so feel free to make ahead.