My goal for cooking has been a few new recipes every month. This past week, with no teaching jobs on the horizon, I found myself trying several new ones. My Wagjag suscription deal to Canadian Living is paying off! On Thursday I did my biggest one of the week... Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie. I've never been a huge fan of Shepher's Pie. I think I've always found it bland, but I like that it contains ingredients for a balanced meal for my boys. We also rarely eat beef at home (steak at a restaurant is another story) as I substituted all ground beef for turkey, but I thought the iron would be good. Turns out swapping regular potatoes for sweet potatoes made all the difference in taste for me.
This recipe takes some time (lots of peeling and chopping) and has a long ingredient list. It states 40 minutes of hands-on time but mine was at least double, if not triple that, partly because of the twin toddler factor. But the part that makes it worth it, besides being delicious, is that it makes enough for two pies so you can freeze one for later. I will definitely make this again, probably on a weekend when Joel can help me with the chopping. So here is...
Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie
2 lb (900 g) extra lean ground beef
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 ribs celery, finely chopped
2 onions, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 turnip, peeled and diced (my first time cooking with a turnip)
1 sweet green pepper, seeded and diced (I think I used orange instead)
2 bay leaves
1 1/4 t salt
1 t dried thyme
1/4 t ground nutmeg
2 T all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sodium-reduced beef broth
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 t Worcestershire sauce
4 lb (1.8 kg) sweet potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped (I used 3 large, 2 small to get 4 lbs)
1/3 cup milk
2 T butter
In a dutch oven (I used a large wok), cook beef and garlic over medium heat, breaking up with a spoon, until browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in tomato paste; cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Stir in celery, onions, carrots, turnip, green pepper, bay leaves, 3/4 tsp of the salt, the thyme, pepper and nutmeg. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes (this was perfect for my finely chopped vegetables... might need a bit longer if they're bigger).
Stir in flour; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in broth, water and Worcestershire sauce; simmer for 3 minutes. Discard bay leaves. Divide between two 8-inch (2 L) square baking dishes.
Meanwhile, in large pot of boiling salted water, cook sweet potatoes until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain and return to pot over medium heat; cook, stirring, until dry, about 1 minute. Stir in milk, butter and remaining salt; mash until smooth (I used an immersion hand blender as I found it hard to get smooth with a regular masher). Spread evenly over each beef mixture.Bake 1 of the pies in 350°F (180°C) oven until bubbly, about 35 minutes. (Make-ahead: Cover remaining pie with plastic wrap then foil and freeze for up to 1 month. Bake, uncovered and frozen, in 350°F/180°C oven for 50 to 60 minutes.)
The half-devoured finished product
*Found in the September issue of Canadian Living*