Smoky Turkey Shepherd's Pie

Yes, yes, yes, oh sorry for the rant but I love love LOVE how this recipe came out last night. I made Smoky Turkey Shepherd's Pie. 

All I can say is yummmmm. I can't take all of the credit, of course, it mostly goes to Rachael Ray for her recipe (DUH), but my fabulously wonderful sous chef, AKA my boyfriend Kevin, helped by chopping most of the veggies for me. 

And believe me there are a LOT of veggies! 

But that is one of the things I love about this recipe. The veggies cook in the bacon and turkey for a long time. Then the smoked paprika joins the party and WOOHOOO look out, yummy in the tummy folks!

Now of course a recipe couldn't be cooked by me without a few missteps and tweaks, sometimes after tasting you just...well I will get to that in a minute. Ok so back on track here. Today's lesson is, make SURE you have everything for the recipe. Hmm haven't I have that problem before? Well obviously I don't learn from my own mistakes, but maybe YOU can.

It calls for three large Idaho potatoes, these are a VERY important part of the recipe. I casually look in my pantry and see I have a bag of russets so I am happy with that and check that off of my list of things to buy at the market. However, when I get down and dirty and ready to roll with this recipe, OOPS, the potatoes are not that good. They are small and most of them weren't in any shape to be used for anything but a trash can filler. ARG!! 

I salvaged what I could, but it was no where near the amount I should have had, and grumbled at myself under my breath. I began stressing as soon as I saw that I had a problem with the very first ingredient in the recipe. This is about the time Kevin donned his Super Hero cape and swooped in to rescue me. Have I mentioned how much I love this man? Anyway, we got to work and as I pulled everything out and got it lined up in order, he began chopping. I got the bacon done and added the turkey (side note, I would leave quite a bit of the bacon fat in the pan if you want it to really flavor your veggies). Then we added the spices and dropped all those gorgeous veggies in the pot. Oh, it called for a small red bell pepper but we used a pretty good sized one.

From that point on it is just a matter of mashing your potatoes, (heads up don't forget to save a ladle of the cooking liquid to temper your egg, I didn't, but I heated up some chicken stock in it's place. Gotta work on the fly in my kitchen!), finishing up the pot with the flour, stock, and sour cream, and simmering away. Since I had used fewer potatoes than it called for, and didn't think to reduce the liquid going in, I needed to cook my mashed potatoes over low heat for awhile to try to thicken them up. But that is ok because the more you simmer, the better this stuff gets! My tweak, I added two palmfuls total (aprox 2 tablespoons) of smoked paprika, we like it extra smoky. Just taste it as it is simmering and as you adjust your pepper and salt you can figure out your level of smokiness.

So the reviews, well, Kevin LOVED it and not only had two or three helpings but laid claim to the leftovers as well. My Dad said he enjoyed it, and I was quite happily full with a smile on my face. All in all a very successful night. 

Smoky Turkey Shepherd's Pie

3 large Idaho potatoes, peeled and cubed
Coarse salt
2 tablespoons EVOO - extra-virgin olive oil - 2 turns of the pan
1/4 pound smoky bacon or turkey bacon (for a lighter choice), chopped
1 1/3 pound ground turkey breast
1 tablespoon smoked paprika, available in small cans on spice aisle of market
(You may substitute 1 1/2 teaspoons each sweet paprika and cumin combined)
Coarse black pepper
2 tablespoons, 5 or 6 sprigs, fresh thyme leaves
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
3 ribs celery from the heart, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cups frozen peas
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup sour cream 
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large egg, beaten
10 to 12 blades fresh chives, chopped or snipped

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, salt it, and cook the potatoes until tender, 12 to 15 minutes.
Heat a deep, large skillet over medium-high heat. Add EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, to the skillet. Add bacon and brown it up, then add ground turkey to the pan and break it up. Season the turkey with smoked paprika, salt and pepper, and thyme. When turkey browns up, add: onions, carrots, celery. Season the veggies with salt and pepper. Cook 5 minutes, then add red pepper and peas cook another 2 minutes. Stir in flour and cook flour 2 minutes. Whisk in broth and combine. Add 1/2 cup of sour cream and combine. Simmer mixture over low heat.
Preheat your broiler to high.
When potatoes are tender, add a ladle of cooking water to the egg. Drain potatoes and return to the warm pot to dry them out a little. Add remaining 1/2 cup sour cream, butter, half of the chives, and salt and pepper. Smash and mash the potatoes, mashing in the beaten, tempered egg. If the potatoes are too tight, mix in a splash of milk.
Pour turkey mixture into a medium casserole dish. Top turkey with an even layer of mashed potatoes and place casserole 5 inches from hot broiler. Broil the potatoes until golden at edges and remove the casserole from the oven. Garnish the casserole with the remaining chives and a sprinkle of smoked paprika.


  1. Delicious... Great twist on the classic! so many layers of flavors!

  2. Thank you! Since the weight loss I have learned to LOVE veggies and enjoy packing the flavors in whenever I can.