Monday, January 29, 2007

Turkey Shepherd's Pie with Mashed Sweet Potatoes

I'm trying to eat better: more whole grains, veggies, fruit, less sugar, fat, and non-lean meats.

I like to eat (is there a food blogger who doesn't?) so I'll frequently eat too much -- especially tasty, delicious stuff, like cookies, mashed potatoes, or anything covered in melted cheddar -- and then feel stuffed and nasty. I call it the Flurry effect: given the chance, our dog will gorge himself, then collapse in a heap on the floor, his gurgling stomach keeping him company.

So to avoid that end, I signed up for the online Weight Watchers program, which allows me to keep a food diary (again, detailing food minutia is very appealing) and gives access to hundreds, maybe thousands, of recipes, without ever having to sit in a room and hear someone wax poetic over Crystal Light.

I keep telling myself that my primary reason for joining is to become a healthier eater and not to lose weight, because in America while hydrogenated and sugared food in gigantic proportions is thrown at you almost everywhere you go, it's still a horribly awful -- if not catastrophic -- character flaw if you are overweight. Especially if you're a woman.

The American dream isn't having a happy family, a good job, and a house with a white picket fence. It's being able to gorge on Big Macs and fries and still fit into a size 2 bikini.

Anyway, my main issue with WW is their recipes, which seem to have been developed by "industrial" chefs. As in, the chefs are less likely to work for Le Bernardin than they are for Swanson's frozen dinners.

It's not that the recipes are bad -- they're not -- but most of them need some adjusting. I've noticed that a lot of the recipes shy away from hot spices, but overdo the herbal ones.

This recipe falls into the latter category. It's a great recipe -- nice idea to substitute white potatoes for sweet to pack in extra vitamins -- but it calls for way too much thyme. I felt like I was eating a box of Bell's Poultry seasoning. (Come to think of it, Bell's would have been more balanced.) The thyme took over the dish; what's the point of using sweet Italian turkey sausage if you can't taste any of the sausage's seasoning?

So I've adapted the recipe below, reducing the thyme to 1/4 tsp. If you're really crazy about thyme, you might want to increase it to 1/2 tsp. but I wouldn't do anything more than that. I like to taste different flavors in my food, not one dominant assault on my palate.

I also tossed in about a cup of peas, because what's shepherd's pie without peas?

Turkey Shepherd's Pie with Mashed Sweet Potatoes

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/4 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 medium garlic clove(s), minced
6 medium baby carrots, chopped
20 oz raw turkey sausage, sweet Italian-variety, casings removed
1 cup frozen peas
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried thyme
black pepper, freshly ground, to taste
10 3/4 fl oz can of condensed low-fat tomato soup

Preheat oven to 400-degrees F. Lightly coat a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray.

Place potatoes in a medium saucepan and pour in enough water to cover potatoes. Set pan over high heat and bring to a boil; boil until fork-tender, about 8 minutes. Drain potatoes; return potatoes to pan. Mash potatoes with buttermilk and garlic powder until smooth; season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté until tender, about 3 minutes. Add carrots; sauté 1 minute. Remove vegetables from skillet; set aside.

Add sausage to skillet; sauté until browned, breaking up sausage as it cooks with a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes. Return vegetables to skillet, adding frozen peas; stir to combine. Add oregano, thyme and pepper; cook 1 minute. Add soup; simmer until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and spoon mixture into pie plate.

Spoon mashed potatoes over turkey mixture and spread into an even layer using the back of a wooden spoon.

Bake until filling is bubbly, about 25 minutes.

Yields 6 servings. Leftovers reheat nicely in the microwave.
Grade: B+


Miasys said...

I have never thought to use sweet potatoes instead of regular mashed. I'd probably like it, but it's prolly close to heretical for my peeps here at home. I used some herbes de Provence one night and my 13 yr old son told me dinner tasted like soap. So I guess I'm sticking to the spicy stuff, too. Good luck with the WW recipes- I'm sure they've improved since those horrible cards in the 70's!

Laura Rebecca said...

You mean these cards? ;)

Anonymous said...

Good luck with the WW. It is a great program and pretty easy to follow, especially for someone who likes to cook!

emily said...

Sounds decent . . . I'm a fan of almost anything I can make with turkey sausage and/or reheat in a microwave.
Best of luck with the online WW - you have my admiration.

Miasys said...

OMG! I love those cards! I about shot my hot tea out my nose when I clicked the link. Can you imagine actually making those- ugh!

Lis said...

My God that looks good. I love the idea of using sweet potatoes. I just bought 4 huge red garnets and was wondering what I'd do with them instead of the normal bake.

Thanks for letting us know about the thyme - I agree, I'm not particularly fond of a dish tasting of one ingredient only.