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Shepherd’s pie makes good use of Thanksgiving leftovers

Shepherd’s pie (Photo provided — Yvona Fast)

The big feast is over. And you’re left with tons of food: lots of turkey, bowls of mashed potatoes and gravy, vegetables. The perfect Black Friday meal to make with these ingredients is Shepherd’s Pie. Leftover turkey, day-old mashed potatoes and gravy combine with veggies to make an easy, one-dish meal. Add a salad and fresh bread or rolls, and dinner is on the table.

Since the Middle Ages, meat pies have been common in the British Isles. Potatoes, a New World food, showed up in England in the 1600s. The traditional Shepherd’s Pie became popular in the 1870s. Originally, it was made with lamb cubes; a version made with beef was called a cottage pie.

Frugal housewives in the sheep herding country of northern England and Scotland invented the dish to use up meat from Sunday’s roast. Leftover vegetables were mixed with the meat and drippings were made into gravy to coat, flavor and hold things together. Leftover potatoes were used for a topping. Like many dishes based on leftovers, there are no precise measurements.

Today in the USA, shepherd’s pie is any combination of meat and vegetables baked in a casserole with a mashed potato topping. Most often, ground meat replaces cubed leftover meat. Like potatoes, turkey is a New World food, and was not known in the British Isles until modern times. Turkey meat substitutes well for lamb, mutton or beef cubes.

So, use up holiday leftovers and make this comfort classic, a great warmup for winter days. It is very adaptable, and can use different vegetables with the turkey. If you don’t have leftover veggies, use frozen ones that you’ve steamed or thawed first. Mix and match whatever you have on hand. Here are two ideas.

Turkey Shepherd’s

Pie 1

Ingredients:

1 to 2 teaspoons olive oil or other cooking oil

1 onion

4 oz. mushrooms, optional

1 teaspoon salt

2 to 3 cups diced or shredded roast turkey

2 to 3 cups leftover roasted vegetables

1 cup leftover gravy

1 to 2 cups mashed potatoes

2 to 4 Tablespoons fresh minced parsley, optional

1 egg

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 quart casserole dish or baking pan with cooking spray.

Peel and dice the onion. Slice mushrooms (if using). Add olive oil to coat skillet, add onion and mushrooms; sprinkle with salt; cook 5 – 7 minutes.

Layer turkey in bottom of casserole. Pour in half the gravy. Top with onions and mushrooms. Layer leftover veggies on top. Pour on the rest of the gravy.

Combine mashed potatoes, parsley and egg. Spread over the veggies.

Bake 35 to 45 minutes, until heated through and slightly brown on top.

Serves three to four.

For a different twist on Shepherd’s pie, this version is topped with mashed squash or sweet potatoes

Turkey Shepherd’s

Pie 2

Ingredients:

1 to 2 teaspoons olive oil or other cooking oil

1 onion

4 oz. mushrooms, optional

1 teaspoon salt

2 – 3 cups diced or shredded roast turkey

1 to 2 cups leftover roasted or boiled potatoes

1 to 2 cups leftover (or frozen, thawed) green vegetables (greens, green beans, peas)

1 cup leftover gravy

1 to 2 cups mashed sweet potatoes or squash

1 – 2 Tablespoons shredded sharp cheese, like Parmesan or sharp Cheddar

1 egg

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 quart casserole dish or baking pan with cooking spray.

Peel and dice the onion. Slice mushrooms (if using). Add olive oil to coat skillet, add onion and mushrooms; sprinkle with salt; cook five to seven minutes.

Add veggies, potatoes, leftover turkey and gravy; cook one to two minutes. and gravy. Spread on bottom of prepared casserole dish.

Combine mashed squash or sweet potato, shredded cheese and egg. Spread over the veggies.

Bake 35 to 45 minutes, until heated through and slightly brown on top.

Serves three to four.

Author of the award-winning cookbook Garden Gourmet: Fresh & Fabulous Meals from your Garden, CSA or Farmers’ Market, Yvona Fast lives in Lake Clear and has two passions: cooking and writing. She can be reached at writeyvona@gmail.com , www.wordsaremyworld.com or on Facebook as

Author Yvona Fast.