Julia Turshen's Turkey Shepherd's Pie

We're leaning in on comfort food now that evenings are beginning to feel a little more like November. This Julia Turshen recipe is from Simply Julia: 110 Easy Recipes for Healthy Comfort Food and it's a winner!


Julie tweaks the heavier classic shepherd's pie by using ground turkey in place of lamb and substitutes the usual mashed potato topping with a cauliflower puree. Yes, it's healthier but it's also "simply" delicious and most importantly...COMFORTING.


 AUTHOR'S NOTE: “You can assemble the entire pie a few days in advance and bake just before serving, or you can bake the whole thing in advance and then warm it in a 350ºF [175ºC] oven until it’s piping hot. If you have some fresh thyme or rosemary on hand, mince it up and add it to the turkey while it’s cooking.”


We carry Simply Julia at Hammertown.  Buy it now!
And, Julia is included in Joan's book "Entertaining in the Country: Love Where You Eat"




For the filling


  • Kosher Salt
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and finely diced
  • One 10-ounce package of frozen peas
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound ground turkey (preferably dark meat, but white meat works, too)
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup chicken stock (homemade, store-bought, or bouillion paste dissolved in boiling water)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce




  • 1 small cauliflower (about 2 lbs), outer leaves and core discarded, cut into large florets
  • 1 large baking potato (about 3/4 pound), peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves, peeled (just leave them whole)
  • 1/4 cup half & half
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese



First, preheat your oven to 400ºF.


Next, make the filling

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it generously. Add the carrots and cook until barely tender, about 4 minutes. Add the peas and cook until just bright green, about 30 seconds. Use a handheld strainer or a slotted spoon to transfer the vegetables to a large bowl (leave the boiling water in the pot and save it for your cauliflower topping, which you’ll get to in a little while).


Place 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a medium cast-iron skillet [about 9 inches in diameter, or another ovenproof skillet]. Add the turkey, season generously with salt, and cook, stirring now and then, until all of its moisture evaporates and it’s browned in spots, about 10 minutes. Transfer the browned turkey to the bowl with the carrots and peas.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet and add the onion. Cook, stirring now and then, until the onion begins to soften, about 6 minutes. Season with a large pinch of salt. Add the garlic, flour, and tomato paste. Cook, stirring, until everything is fragrant and well-incorporated, about one minute. While stirring, slowly pour in the chicken stock and then the Worcester sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil, turn the heat to low, and simmer for just a minute to let some of the raw flour taste cook off. Turn off the heat.


Scrape the onion mixture into the bowl with the turkey, carrots, and peas and mix well to combine. Season the mixture to taste with salt. Return the mixture to the skillet (it's easier to mix it in the bowl) and hang onto it.


Next, make the topping

Return the pot of vegetable water to a boil and add the cauliflower, potato, and garlic cloves. Boil until the vegetables are very tender (test with a paring knife), about 15 minutes. Drain them in a colander and give them a good shake to make sure all the excess water goes down the drain.


Transfer vegetables to a bowl of a food processor along wit the half-and-half, butter, and 1 teaspoon salt. Puree until smooth and season to taste with more salt if needed.


Finish the pie

Cover the surface of the turkey mixture with the cauliflower mash and then sprinkle the cheese on top. Roast the pie until the cheese is melted and browned in spots, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve hot.





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