This is a light shepherd pie, so don’t expect to see lamb as a main ingredient. It’s turkey! Not only is it much healthier than lamb or beef, but it is also much cheaper, so you get to cut both dollars and cholesterol – can’t go better than that. The orange potato topping is a combination of your Bubbe’s regular potatoes and sweet potatoes which are generally considered the healthiest food in the world. So you cut on carbs as well, but at the same time, you gain on all kinds of vitamins and minerals (http://www.foodreference.com/html/sweet-pot-nutrition.html).
Contrary to what we all know as the easiest main dish for Shabbos when you expect a crowd – just throw ground beef with some onions and maybe garlic into a baking pan and cover with mashed potatoes! – it isn’t really a shepherd’s pie. First of all – surprise! – if it’s beef and not lamb, it’s called a cottage pie. The real shepherd’s pie is supposed to be made of lamb because in Scotland, shepherds took care of sheep, and cows did not climb mountains. But most importantly, it should also contain some vegetables, mixed with meat.
My standard veggies for this dish are corn and sweet peas, but sometimes I add diced bell pepper (red looks very nice), string beans, even asparagus tips, whatever is in season. You also need to grate a carrot, chop an onion, and squeeze some garlic cloves. But before you do all this, crumble a couple of slices of last week’s leftover challah – I hope you’ve saved it! – and soak in soy, rice, or almond milk. If you don’t use any of those, water will do, but you’ll have to add a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Remember, ground turkey practically has no fat of its own.
While the bread is soaking, you can use the time to grate, chop, squeeze, and check eggs, unless you buy eggs with Hecksher. Mash up the bread the way you would do potatoes, and throw everything else in. I season it with cilantro, a dash of cinnamon, and a pinch of cumin, in addition to salt and pepper, but feel free to add your favorite flavours.
Meanwhile, your potatoes should be boiling.
You can mash them up by hand, but if you use a mixer or blender, you get a lighter and fluffier “blanket.” This time, I also had a couple of parsnips left from Pesach that had been cooked in the soup, so I mashed them up as well.
A little secret to prevent it from sticking to the bottom when it sits in the oven or on the blecht for a while: in addition to oiling the pan, sprinkle some tomato juice on the bottom and sides. Spread the meat and veggies mixture evenly in the baking pan. I prefer to use the one I will already put on the table.
Spread potato mixture in an even layer to cover the meat.
You can make chevron-like designs on top with your spoon and then sprinkle some paprika. This is how it goes into the oven. Then forget about it for an hour, while you are doing something else – always lots of things to do before Shabbos! When your timer rings, remove the lid and bake it for 10 more minutes, to give it a nice crust.
This is how it comes out of the oven, and I garnish it with some more fresh cilantro on top before serving. Since you have a complex combination of sweet and spicy flavors, with Mediterranean notes of cinnamon and cumin, it is complemented very well by a full-bodied, but dry red wine, like a Cabernet Sauvignon. A heavier or a deeper wine, such as Burgundy, will definitely overwhelm the lightness of the dish.
On Sunday, my husband is enjoying the ubiquitous Jewish dish that has not changed since Sorah Imeinu cooked and Avrohom Avinu welcomed guests, but it is not offered in any Jewish restaurant – Shabbos Leftovers!
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 2 slices of bread or Challah
- 1 cup of frozen corn (you can use canned, but drain it real well)
- 1 cup of frozen sweet peas (same as with corn)
- Alternatively, diced bell pepper, string beans, or asparagus tips
- 1 large grated carrot
- 1/2 diced onion
- 2 – 3 cloves of garlic (use more if you like), squezeed
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons of soy, rice, or almond milk
- 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, if you use water instead of Pareve milk substitute
- Diced fresh cilantro
- A dash of cinnamon
- A pinch of cumin
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 large potato
- 1 large sweet potato
- Paprika to garnish
- Crumble bread and soak in Pareve milk substitute or water
- Peel and boil potatoes in salted water
- Mash up soaked bread and add the rest of the ingredients, except potatoes. Mix well.
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Oil baking pan and spread meat mixture evenly on the bottom.
- Mash or whip potatoes and cover the meat mixture.
- Decorate, garnish, bake for 1 hour.
- Remove the lid and bake for 10 more minutes.
Note: If left in the oven or on the blecht for several hours, it should be tightly covered.
Have a great Shabbos!