Sunday, January 30, 2011

Turkey Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Crust

Tonight’s featured recipe is a modern version of what is actually the most basic and ancient of all meals, a meat pie.  Soon after the invention of fire, the next “Killer App” might very well have been… Pie Crust.  As our ancestors grew tired of eating food cooked on the ground or suspended from a stick over an open fire, they discovered that a vessel fashioned of dough, for containing and cooking the enclosed ingredient as well as its juices, worked very well.  

When a pie had a crust, it was known as a coffin, and pies with no crust were known as traps. Large, short-sided pies are tarts and very small pies are tartlets. When someone made a pie out of some type of bird, he or she would leave the legs of the bird extended outside the edge of the pie to be used for handles.

Pies originally had a very hard crust, sometimes up to three inches in thickness, which made for great cooking over long periods of time, but were very often too hard to be eaten. The crust of the pie was used mainly for baking the pie as there were no pie pans back then. Think primitive pottery here. At times it was also known as bulletproof dough. Because of this quality, between the 13th and 16th centuries, many pies held live birds, frogs and other small creatures, even dwarfs and sometimes a small orchestra. These were contained inside the pie only to emerge and enliven royal feasts with entertainment.

Pies eventually made their way to England and soon showed up in America with the first colonial settlers bringing along Cottage and Shepherd’s pies. From the American natives, the pilgrims learned of the many healthy fruits and berries which grew in abundance everywhere, and incorporated them into the pies they made. 

Women at that time conserved their rations by making round pies and shallow pies. During the 1700s, pie first became a popular part of celebratory moments while gaining popularity in homes, picnics and fairs. Many people have enjoyed pie eating contests or pie throwing games. Pies and their recipes have traveled a very long way from where they began to this present day.

Shepherd’s pies typically have some type of meat and vegetable filling; it can be any type of meat, with a crust made from potatoes. Our version is a Turkey pie with a Sweet Potato crust. It’s wonderful. Enjoy.

From our kitchen to yours. Enjoy the adventure.


Turkey Shepherd's Pie with Sweet Potato Crust
1 large Sweet Potato, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces

1/3 cup Buttermilk

¼ tsp Garlic Powder

1/8 tsp Salt, or to taste

1/8 tsp Black Pepper, freshly ground

1 Tbsp Olive Oil

½ cup Red Onion, chopped

3 cloves Garlic, medium, minced

6 baby Carrots, chopped

20 oz. raw Turkey Sausage, about 4 sausages, 3 mild, 1 hot, casings removed.

1 tsp dried Oregano

1 tsp dried Thyme

¼ tsp Black Pepper, freshly ground

10 ¾ oz can Tomato Soup


Preheat oven to 400°F.

Place potatoes in a medium saucepan and pour enough water to cover potatoes. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Boil until the potatoes are fork tender, about 8 minutes.  Drain potatoes; return potatoes to pan. Mash potatoes with Buttermilk and Garlic powder until smooth. Season to taste with Salt and Pepper.

Meanwhile, heat Oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add Onion and Garlic; Sauté until tender, about 3 minutes.  Add Carrots; Sauté 1 minute.  Remove vegetables and set aside. 

Add Turkey sausage to skillet and sauté until browned, about 5 minutes, breaking up sausage with a wooden spoon. Return vegetables to skillet; stir in Oregano, Thyme and ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper; cook 1 minute. Add Soup; simmer until liquid is absorbed and mixture thickens, about 2 minutes. Remove skillet from heat. Spoon mixture into 9 inch pie plate.

Spoon Mashed Potatoes over the top to cover meat mixture, and smooth to an even layer with the back of a wooden spoon.

Bake until filling bubbles, about 25 minutes. Slice into 6 pieces. Yields 6 servings, PointsPlus value per serving is 6. Prep time is about 25 minutes. Cooking time is 25 minutes. Level of difficulty is Moderate.

Weight Watchers and PointsPlus are registered trademarks of Weight Watchers Intl. Inc.

Recipes shown may not be exactly the same as those found on any website. Judy and I tend to "tweak" each recipe we feature, to some degree, incorporating our own unique tastes and ideas. PointsPlus values, however, are accurate. 

Photo by Barry Baruh

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