Sweet Potato Shepherds Pie
Let’s talk about flavor. Specifically, let’s talk flavor affinities.
In my book, flavor is ALWAYS better…I don’t care what you make…if the flavor ain’t there, it ain’t happenin’! To take your flavor to the next level you need to integrate your ingredients with other flavors that compliment each other to create one HUGE, MIND-BLOWING dish…also known as a flavor affinity.
Take this recipe for example: Sweet Potato Shepherds Pie. Sweet Potato+ Bacon+ Rosemary= the perfect topping for leeks, mushrooms and sage sautéed with “I can’t believe it’s” ground turkey. These flavors are a serious match made in heaven and the perfect twist on an old favorite!
Sweet potatoes are peeled and cut into large chunks. Covered with salty water that is brought to a boil and left to cook for about 40 minutes which is the perfect amount of time to prep the filling. Isn’t that convenient?
In a large skillet cook chopped bacon until crisp and the fat has rendered in the pan. Remove the bacon from the pan to drain on a paper towel. Also, reserve about 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat for your potato topping and leave the rest of your bacon drippings in the pan. First layer of flavor is set..time to add your veggies.
Sautee the leeks and mushrooms and a touch of garlic until softened. Then the turkey gets tossed in the mix and we are going to let it brown baby. Think of this as the second layer of flavor…and the browner your turkey gets the more it will develop. Just trust the pan and let it do its job.
Carrots are added for texture and chopped sage is folded into the mix to further the flavor affinity. Allow to simmer in a bath of chicken broth while we finish the topping to tie this whole dish together.
Potatoes are drained, mashed and spiked with the bacon fat plus 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter. Yea, we aren’t holding back at all and you know what would take this up a notch?…Rosemary and BACON!
Stir in a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of Maple syrup to add a sweet note to this savory dish and it’s all gravy baby! Top the turkey mix with the sweet potatoes and set under a broiler till brown. Garnished with bacon this casserole will blow your mind!
The potatoes are smooth and aromatic with the sweet flavors of rosemary and maple syrup bursting with flavor pockets of bacon. This complimenting the savory filling of ground turkey married together with sage and tender vegetables creating a delicious texture that will leave you begging for more.
In theory, casseroles are great for leftovers, but if your family has an appetite like mine those leftovers (if any) won’t last long with this dish.
What flavor combo is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below!
- 3 Medium Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
- 4 thick cut slices of Bacon, diced
- Kosher Salt
- 1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lg Leek
- 4 garlic cloves
- 2 cups sliced mushrooms
- 2 lbs ground turkey
- 1 cup diced carrots
- 1 tsp minced fresh sage
- Freshly ground pepper
- ¼ cup all purpose flour
- 2 cups of Chicken Stock
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- ½ cup heavy cream, heated
- 6 Tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 Tbs Reserved Bacon fat
- 1 tsp minced fresh rosemary leaves
- 1 tsp Maple Syrup
- Place the sweet potatoes in a large pot and fill with water till it covers the potatoes by about 2 inches. Salt the water generously like you would for pasta and bring it to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and allow the potatoes to boil for about 40 minutes or until they are fork tender.
- Meanwhile in a large skillet cook the chopped bacon over medium-high heat until crispy. Spoon out the crispy bacon bits and allow them to drain on a paper towel lined plate. Spoon into a small bowl about 2 tablespoons of the rendered bacon fat and set aside; leave the remaining bacon fat in the pan. If needed, add a little bit of extra virgin olive oil to the pan then toss in your leeks. Season with a pinch of salt and cook stirring occasionally until the leeks are soft, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic to the pan and cook stirring for about a minute. Stir the mushrooms into the mixture and allow to cook so that the mushrooms get a nice brown color. This will take about 3-4 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt.
- Push your mushroom-leek mixture to one side of the pan and add your ground turkey to the other side of the pan. Raise the heat to high, sprinkle the turkey with 1 tsp of salt and begin to break up the meat while it cooks. Cook the meat till it’s browned which will take between 7-10 minutes. Combine the meat with the mushroom –leek mixture then stir in the carrots, sage, and 1 tsp of black pepper. Cook the mixture stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes or until the carrots are crisp tender.
- Add the flour to the mix and stir for about a minute. Stir in the chicken stock and soy sauce then bring to a simmer. Allow the mixture to simmer for about 10 minutes.
- While the meat mixture is simmering, drain the sweet potatoes and mash them using a potato masher, or ricer. Add the cream, butter and reserved bacon fat to the mashed potatoes and stir till just combined. Sprinkle in the rosemary leaves, ¾ of the cooked bacon and season with salt to taste. Fold in the maple syrup to give a hint of sweetness. The potatoes should be smooth and silky.
- Set the broiler rack 6 inches from the heat source, and then preheat the broiler. Dollop the Sweet Potatoes on top of the meat mixture and spread so that it covers the top evenly. Transfer the skillet to the broiler rack and allow to broil till the top of the potatoes is golden. This will take about 3 minutes. Garnish with the last bits of the cooked bacon and serve hot!
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