Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Shepherd's Pie with Cranberry Bacon Chutney

The current Thanksgiving tradition is certainly one to marvel at.  It is a feast of such variety, and so intricate that it is often prepared for days, or even weeks in advance!  Most appreciate the extensive preparation, because it is worth it to spend this holiday with those who matter most.  But what about a college student who may not be able to make it home for a big Thanksgiving celebration, or a newlywed couple in transition who have yet to start their own family and traditions, and thus may only be cooking for the two of them?

Better yet, what about the other 364 days of the year when the undertaking of a large Thanksgiving feast is either viewed as impractical or absolute lunacy? And then there is the question about what to do with leftovers rather than eating the same Thanksgiving dinner every day for the coming week until you begin to grow feathers and sweet potatoes emerge from your ears? …The answer to all of these questions, my friends, can be answered with this recipe for Thanksgiving Shepherd's Pie…Or I guess it would be "Thanksgiving Poulterer's Pie," since it's made with turkey rather than lamb.  Linguistics is a fascinating topic, isn't it? …But I digress.

This recipe is probably my favorite creation so far, because it is literally an entire Thanksgiving meal in one dish.  You've got (1) the poultry, (2/3) the veggie sides (carrots with peas, AND green beans), (4) the broth which turns a bit gravy-like, (5/6) the mashed sweet potatoes (two birds with one stone, there), (7) the cranberry sauce, and it is all in pie form, so that takes care of the pie criteria (8).  The only thing missing is the stuffing, which most paleo peeps shouldn't be eating anyways (boo gluten!). So, there you have it – an entire 8-component Thanksgiving meal in one dish suitable for almost anyone to make on any day of the year!

I know the recipe looks a little long and daunting, but it's WAY easier than the typical Thanksgiving meal, and totally worth it!

Thanksgiving Shepherd’s Pie with Cranberry Bacon Chutney

For the Turkey Filling:
  • 2 Tablespoons reserved bacon fat
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots (about 4 oz)
  • ½ pound green beans, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 pound ground turkey (or chopped turkey breast if you prefer)
  • 1 Tablespoon arrowroot powder
  • ¾ cup beef or chicken broth

For the Sweet Potatoes:
  • 2 large sweet potatoes (about 2 lbs.)
  • ¼ cup cream or coconut milk
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 egg

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Place sweet potatoes in the oven for about an hour, until roasted and soft when poked with a knife.
  3. Meanwhile, chop the bacon into pieces and cook in a large pot until crispy.  Set the bacon bits aside for the cranberry chutney, drain off half of the bacon fat and reserve.  
  4. With about two Tablespoons of bacon fat in the pot, add the onions, carrots, and green beans and sauté 3-4 minutes until the onions are translucent.  
  5. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, and rosemary and sauté for one more minute, then add the turkey and cook for 2-3 minutes more until done.  
  6. In a small bowl, combine the arrowroot powder with a few Tablespoons of the cool chicken broth, and set aside.  Add the remaining broth to the turkey and vegetable mixture, and bring to a boil.  Add the arrowroot mixture to the pot, and allow to simmer for 3 more minutes.
  7. Raise the oven temp to 400ºF.  Spread turkey mixture evenly into a 7 by 11-inch glass baking dish.
  8. For the potatoes, remove the flesh from the skins and add it to a large food processor along with the cream, butter, salt, pepper, and egg.  Spoon the potatoes over the turkey mixture, starting around the edges and spreading evenly to create a seal.  Place the dish on a sheet pan and into the 400º oven for about 25 minutes until the potatoes begin to brown.
  9. Meanwhile, make the Cranberry Bacon Chutney below!

Cranberry Bacon Chutney

  • 2 Tablespoons reserved bacon fat
  • 3 strips bacon
  • ½ cup onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup chopped cranberries, fresh or frozen (and thawed)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon maple syrup

  1. To a small saucepan over medium heat, add the remaining bacon fat (about two Tablespoons or so).  Add the half cup of onion and the garlic, and sauté for about 5 minutes.  Stir in the balsamic and simmer for a few more minutes until reduced by half.  
  2. Add the cranberries, salt, pepper, and maple syrup, and cook until cranberries are tender and the sauce has thickened.  Remove from heat and stir in the reserved bacon bits.
  3. Top the shepherd’s pie with the cranberry chutney, or serve on the side.  Enjoy!
Have you ever had to improvise for Thanksgiving? Better yet, what is your "Worst Thanksgiving Ever" story?