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Shepherd’s Pie with Ground Turkey

Shepherd's Pie is a traditional Irish recipe of ground meat topped with mashed potatoes and baked in the oven. It was originally made with ground lamb (its name harkens back to the days when shepherds tended their flocks of sheep in Ireland) but is now more often made with ground beef.

Health concerns have led many of us to reduce our consumption of red meat and opt for ground turkey instead. Weight Watchers recently offered members this recipe using ground turkey and adding lots of vegetables to the meat mixture. I looked up Shepherd's Pie inThe Joy of Cooking and was pleasantly surprised to find that the WW recipe retains all the basic ingredients of traditional Shepherd's Pie, plus some, yet is low in fat and high in nutrients. In other words, you're getting "the real thing" with less fat and more vegetables. Note: most of the vegetable-haters I know will eat corn so this should pass muster with all family members.

I had never made Shepherd's Pie before, and as I placed my casserole in the oven I was skeptical because it looked a bit dry. After all, the mashed potatoes contained only a small amount of reduced-fat sour cream and a mere tablespoon of butter. But it came out of the oven bubbly and moist. Delicious. Crave-worthy.

I will make this often but from now on I'll add peas, another vegetable-hater's favorite, along with the corn. Maybe it's the Irish in me, but I thought it needed a bit of the green.

2 large russet potatoes (about 1 3/4 lb.) peeled & cut into 2-inch chunks

1/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 tsp. salt, divided

2 tsp. olive oil

3 medium carrots, finely chopped

2 medium celery stalks, finely chopped

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 cup frozen corn, thawed

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 lb. ground turkey breast

1 1/2 tbsp. tomato paste

1 tsp. dried rosemary

1 tsp. dried thyme

1/2 tsp. black pepper

2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

1 1/4 cups chicken or beef broth

Set a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Spray a 2-quart casserole with cooking spray.

In a medium saucepan, cover the potatoes with 1-inch of cold water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until fork-tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and return to the saucepan. Add sour cream, butter and 1/2 tsp. salt and mash until smooth.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the carrots, celery and onion; cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in corn and garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl. Return skillet to the heat and add the turkey, breaking it up with the side of a wooden spoon, until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste, rosemary, thyme, black pepper and remaining salt and cook 2 minutes more. Stir in the carrot mixture, then the flour and the broth, and simmer until thickened, about 2 minutes.

Transfer the turkey mixture to the prepared casserole dish. Spread the mashed potatoes over the top, making sure to cover the edges. Bake until the potatoes are browned, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool at least 20 minutes before serving.

Serves 8

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