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Turkey Pot Pie - Take a Walk on the LIght Side

I get it, I don't always feel like cooking some huge holiday meal either. I find, as my son gets older, we do less and less Christmasy stuff and spend the time off hanging out together. We go to movies, we play inappropriate games like Cards Against Humanity and visit friends because nobody has time to get together apart from Christmas.

It has been a couple of years since our last, big, Xmas eve open house and I can't remember the last time I hosted a giant dinner. Our new ritual is to get up, go for dim sum and drive our Christmas Dog (we babysit her while her family flies out west to visit family) back to her family at their chalet and spend a few days drinking too much wine, eating too much food and relaxing.

Now, does this mean I still don't want to eat turkey and enjoy the flavours of Christmas? Of course not. I LOVE turkey, I love stuffing, I love mashed potatoes and gravy and eggnog. Sometimes, when I can't even imagine cooking a turkey, I make something like this Turkey Shepherd's Pie or these Cranberry Glazed Turkey Meatloaves

The other nice thing about this Turkey Shepherd's Pie is that I have lightened it up a bit by replacing some of the potato with cauliflower and skipping a heavy cream based sauce for the filling. Let's face it, we can all use a bit of a healthier meal now and then over the holidays to counteract all those cookies, desserts, wine, eggnog, prime rib and yorkshire puddings.

Turkey Shepherd's Pie 
makes about 6 servings

1 tbls olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped finely
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 small zucchini, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 lb ground turkey ( I ground my own but you can buy it pre ground)
1 tbls tomato paste
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tbls cornstarch
fresh thyme ( a small sprig of fresh or about 2 tsp or to taste of dried)
leaves from a stalk of rosemary
small handful fresh italian parsley, chopped
2 lbs combined potato/sweet potato/cauliflower
2 tbls butter
1/4 to 1/2 cup buttermilk (depends on how thick you want them)

Preheat oven to 375F.

Put the potato and the sweet potato in a pot of salted water, bring to a boil and cook until soft. Drain and put it back in the same pot. At the same time I put my chopped up cauliflower in another pot of salted water and cooked it separately so that I could puree it before adding it to the potato/sweet potato. You can put the cooked, drained cauliflower in a food processor, a blender, use an immersion blender or you trusty bullet, like I did. Add that pureed cauliflower to the pot that contains the drained potato/sweet potato, mash in the butter and then start pouring in the buttermilk while you continue to mash until you get the texture you like. Taste, salt and pepper, taste and adjust until it's right. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a non stick sauté pan over med heat and sauté the onion and garlic for about five minutes until it softens. Add the ground turkey and continue to cook until the pink is gone. Add a pinch of kosher salt and a few grinds of pepper and then add the carrot and celery and continue to cook for another five or six minutes. Throw in the zucchini and cook, stirring a couple of times for another five minutes. Push all of that to one side of the pan and add in the tomato paste and cook that for a minute on it's own to brown it (it's something that many of the Italian chefs I like do so I do it too) before adding 1 cup of stock, the thyme, rosemary and parsley. Cover, turn the heat to medium low and let it cook for about ten minutes. Remove the cover, turn the heat up to medium high. Stir the cornstarch into the 1/2 cup of stock you have left and add that to your chicken and vegetables and let it come up to a simmer and let that cook for a couple of minutes and then remove it from the heat.

the meat/vegetable mixture before topping with mashed potatoes

topped with a layer of mashed potatoes ready to go into the oven

You can do one of two things now. You can transfer your meat mixture into a baking dish or casserole or individual baking dishes OR if you used an oven proof sauté pan you can bake it right in there. I used three smaller casserole dishes because I knew we wouldn't eat it all and I wanted to freeze one.
Fill the dish up 3/4 of the way with the chicken and then top that with a nice, thick layer of the mashed potatoes , pop them in the oven and bake until the top is golden brown or for about 30 to 35 minutes.

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