Figuring out what to make for the Week 3 challenge was tough, mostly because the philosophy I already employ for home cooking is to try to make it healthy. I rarely cook red meat, I don't deep fry, and we try to leave the more unhealthy stuff for eating at restaurants instead of at home. The challenge introduction gave examples like substituting lean meat for fattier ones (already do that), using whole grains instead of white (almost all our grains already are), avoiding heavy cream and using low fat substitutes (already do that whenever possible), baking instead of frying (have you seen all the baked substitute disasters?), and lots of vegetables (already our philosophy). What could I make that was new that was also making something healthier? The only things I could come up with were substituting zucchini for starches, until I found a sweet potato shepherd's pie recipe on Skinnytaste. That would work - substituting sweet potato for regular potato and turkey for less healthy meat.
There were a lot of ingredients for the pie and I mostly stuck to the recipe, although I increased a lot of the vegetable amounts. (Healthier!) The ingredients, as adapted, were:
- 3 large sweet potatoes ($2.25)
- 3 cloves garlic ($0.08)
- 1/2 cup milk ($0.20)
- 1/2 cup chicken broth ($0.20)
- 2 tbsp light sour cream ($0.45)
- salt and pepper ($0.05)
- 1 lb ground turkey ($4.34)
- olive oil ($0.10)
- 1 large onion ($0.50)
- 3 celery stalks ($0.30)
- 2 parsnips ($0.72)
- 3 cloves garlic ($0.08)
- a few handfuls of white mushrooms ($1.95)
- frozen mixed vegetables (didn't measure exactly but just did what looked like a good amount) ($1)
- 2 tbsp flour ($0.10)
- 1 cup chicken broth ($0.40)
- 2 tsp tomato paste ($0.20)
- Worcestershire sauce, a couple tsp ($0.10)
- dried rosemary, a tsp or so ($0.10)
- salt and pepper ($0.05)
- paprika ($0.05)
The ingredient list was not short, so probably not surprising that the total wasn't low either at $13.22. But it made enough shepherds pie that we were able to save at least 40%, if not 50%, of it for another day. I guess we'll see at a later date how well it reheats after being frozen, but being able to make this for two meals definitely made it pretty affordable.
The process for making the dish was:
1. Peel and chop sweet potatoes. Begin heating a large pot of salted water to a boil, and drop in sweet potatoes whenever done chopping. Add chopped garlic cloves to pot. Cook until sweet potatoes are very soft.
2. While sweet potatoes are cooking, cook ground turkey, seasoned with salt and pepper, in large skillet. (Thankful A was able to help by doing this, so I could prep other things.)
3. Also while sweet potatoes are cooking, prep other ingredients. Chop onion, garlic, celery, mushrooms. Peel and chop parsnips.
4. When turkey is cooked, remove to separate plate. In the same skillet, cook the onions. Add the celery and parsnips with salt and pepper and then cook until softened.
5. Add garlic and mushrooms to skillet, and after the mushrooms have released most of their water, add the flour, frozen vegetables, chicken broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, cooked turkey. Cook until vegetables are no longer frozen and most of the liquid has evaporated from pan.
6. While meat mixture is cooking, make the mashed sweet potato topping. Add the chicken broth, milk, sour cream, and salt and pepper, and mash and stir potatoes until smooth.
7. Grease a large baking pan and add meat mixture, evening out the layer. Add the sweet potatoes on top and cover the entire pan with the sweet potatoes.
8. Use a fork to create ridges in the sweet potatoes and top with paprika.
9. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes and then let stand a few minutes before eating.
When the shepherd's pie came out of the oven, there seemed to be liquid pooled on top of the sweet potatoes in certain parts, and when we started scooping out the pie, it seemed a little watery. I guess I didn't let enough of the liquid evaporate before loading the filling into the baking pan. (It was getting late.) The dish sat longer as we ate, and by the time we got to the end, it wasn't quite as watery which was good. I think if I make this again, I'll just let the filling cook until all the liquid is gone.
As far as flavor, the dish was really good. Of course, it wasn't a traditional shepherd's pie since it was made with turkey and sweet potatoes, but it tasted healthy and had lots of flavor. It reminded me of when we would stir fry turkey with vegetables and eat it over rice, but here it was with sweet potatoes. While we liked this, it wouldn't really be a shepherd's pie replacement for us since the heavy comfort food aspect of that, with all of its luxurious and fattening items, is part of what makes "real" shepherd's pie so good (and also why I don't make it at home). A also noted that the sweetness of the sweet potatoes was too noticeable for it to be a true replacement in his mind. This was good for what it was, and something I might make again at home, but just not sure it would hit the spot if we were looking for the real thing.