It’s already been a week since Thanksgiving and many folks are either finished with or nearing the end of all those leftovers. I’m at that point myself, and not wanting to have Thanksgiving Plate #18 for dinner, I decided to take a good look at the remaining pile of holiday food (which pretty much amounts to some turkey and some of my mom’s wickedly good, yet practically fat-free mashed potatoes) and see what else I could do with it. Let’s face it: as fun as it is to cook with post-Turkey Day leftovers, after awhile of seeing those same foods over and over, your eyes can start to glaze over and your creativity wanes a bit.
Especially when that’s all you’re living off of for awhile (trying to conserve my bare bones staples and very limited supply of core ingredients for later this month)! I’ve done it all with what’s been available to me. I’ve had a couple turkey sandwiches. I’ve had turkey salad (my favorite post-Thanksgiving meal, actually). I’m well-stocked on my mom’s Arroz Con Pavo, made plenty of turkey stock, and froze some of my Spicy Turkey & Chipotle Pepper Soup to enjoy later. I’m completely out of pie and fruit salad and anything else sweet & fun (‘cept for the Apple-Chamomile cookies I just made). So what the heck am I supposed to do with the rest of my smashed taters and plain ol’ turkey when there’s nothing else fun or interesting to serve with them???
Why, Shepherd’s Pie, of course!
Shepherd’s Pie, as many of you know, is one of those fabulous British/Irish inventions that turns otherwise humdrum things into a comforting, convenient one-dish meal. Meat & veggies are topped with a mashed potato “crust”, baked until bubbly, et voila! Dinner is served! Though most Shepherd’s Pies are typically made with ground beef or lamb (the latter of which I MUST try someday!), I find that using leftover turkey is a perfect substitute, making the most of that extra meat and keeping things just a little bit leaner. Instead of the usual plain peas (because frankly, I ate all my sweet, buttery Thanksgiving peas long ago), I used some frozen mixed vegetables for color & flavor, further amping up the veggie factor with some onions & crisp celery. With just a touch of my remaining turkey gravy and some herbs thrown in for good measure, this mashed potato-topped pie is good to go. Admittedly, it’s not the most attractive dish once served, but it’s quick, easy, tasty and, because you’re using those leftovers rather than buying more ingredients, CHEAP!!!
Affordable comfort food. What could be more comforting?
Turkey Shepherd’s Pie (makes 4-6 servings; total cost per serving: $1 – or practically free, depending on how you look at leftovers!)
2 c frozen mixed veggies, thawed
1/2 c diced onion
1 c chopped celery
1/2 c leftover turkey gravy
1/2 t dried thyme
Salt & pepper to taste (optional)
1 1/2 c leftover mashed potatoes
Preheat oven to 400°. Combine the turkey, onion, celery and mixed veggies in a large skillet and cook over medium heat until just heated through. Add the gravy, thyme and salt & pepper (if needed) and stir well to coat all the ingredients. Remove from heat and carefully transfer the mixture into a 9″ x 9″ baking dish or casserole. Spoon the mashed potatoes on top (zap them in the microwave first if you just took them out of the fridge), and smooth into an even layer using the back of the spoon.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the filling is bubbly and the potatoes are a light golden brown. Allow to cool for about 5-10 minutes before serving. Pair with a nice salad and enjoy!