Turkey Shepherd’s Pie

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Today is St. Patrick’s Day, and what better way to celebrate this Irish holiday than with some traditional Irish fare.  And you can’t get any more “traditional Irish” than Shepherd’s Pie.  Originally called “Cottage Pie” this hearty dish was a means to use up roasted meat of any kind.  The Shepherd part didn’t come into play until 1877, and is generally used when the meat is lamb (mutton).

However, I am not a fan of mutton, plus it’s super expensive, so I opted for a more economical, typically American choice: ground turkey.  Affordable, lean, and easy to find in any grocery store, ground turkey can be a great substitute in many recipes that call for ground lamb, wild game, or beef.  The mild flavor is like a blank canvas with so many possibilities to please your palate.  If you prefer to go the traditional route, you can use mutton or beef, or even a mixture of the two, in place of the turkey.

There are quite a few steps that take you back and forth so don’t forget to read the recipe through first!  There’s a lot going on, but all the steps are oh, so worth it!  I hope you enjoy my spin on this dish.  Enjoy!  ~Joanie

Ingredients:

Mashed Potatoes:
6-8 Medium potatoes, peeled
3 Tbs butter
1 tsp garlic powder (optional)
1/2 cup full fat sour cream
Salt to taste

Pie Filling:
1 lb Ground Turkey
1 1/2 Cups fresh or frozen corn
5 Tbs butter, divided
1 Cup onion, diced
3 Celery stalks, chopped
3 Large carrots, peeled and chopped
2 Tbs all purpose flour
2 Cups turkey or vegetable broth
4-6 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 tsp ground thyme
2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 cup frozen English peas
Salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
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Directions:

Peel and quarter potatoes.  Fill a large stock pot with water, add the potatoes and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Once potatoes are tender, drain and set aside.

In a deep skillet or sauce pan, brown meat.  Remove the cooked meat from the pan and set aside.  Keep the pan and drippings for a later step.  (If you’re using ground beef or lamb, you may want to drain it, as these meats are much fattier than turkey.)

While the meat is browning, you should have time to caramelize the corn.  Add 1 tablespoon of the butter and the corn to a skillet and cook on medium-high heat until you see it start to turn dark golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.  Caramelizing the corn brings out the sugar and adds a really yummy layer of flavor.  Adjust the heat accordingly if it starts to scorch, you don’t want burned corn ruining your yummy dinner!  Caramelized Corn.jpg

In the pan you browned the turkey in, add 2 Tbs of the butter and let it sizzle on med-high heat for about 1 minute.  Don’t let it burn.  Add the onion and cook for about 2 minutes.  Add the carrots and celery all at once, reduce heat to medium and let it all cook together for about 5 minutes.Trinity.jpg

Make a well in the middle of the veggie pan and add 2 tablespoon of butter and 2 tablespoon of flour and whisk together to form a roux.  When the roux is golden in color, slowly begin to add about 1/2 the turkey stock, whisking as you go.  Roux.jpg

Once the mixture begins to thicken, add the rest of the stock, the fresh rosemary sprigs (whole, you’ll fish them out later), the thyme, Worcestershire sauce, English peas and salt & pepper.  Let this all cook together on medium heat for about 10 minutes.Rosemary.jpg

Now would be a good time to pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.

Back to the potatoes: Add the butter, garlic powder, sour cream and salt to the potatoes and whip with a hand mixer on medium speed until just creamy.  Fill your piping bag/tool using a large star tip, if using, and set aside…you’re almost there.

Remove the spent rosemary sprigs from the vegetable filling.  Make sure you get all the woody stems, those are no fun to chomp down on!  Add the browned turkey and the caramelized corn to the vegetable filling.  Filling.jpg

Transfer mixture to an oven safe baking dish, making sure to leave about an inch of clearance from the top.  I used a 2 quart round dish.  This would also be really cute in individual-sized cast iron pans, but I don’t have those.  Yet.
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Pipe the potatoes onto the top of the filling.  If you don’t have a piping bag, smooth individual spoonfuls of potatoes onto the filling mixture, starting around the edges and working your way to the center.  Whether you’re using the piping or spooning method, make sure the potatoes create a good seal over the filling.
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Into your 400 degree oven it goes, MAKE SURE to put a cookie sheet or piece of foil under it because it will most likely drip…mine does every time.  =)
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Bake for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are golden brown.  If it’s bubbling around the edges but the potatoes aren’t the color you want, you can broil it for 1-2 minutes but watch it very, very, very carefully!

The insides will be scorching hot, so let it cool and set up for at least 5 minutes before serving.  Dish up and enjoy!  This one makes great leftovers too!
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Porter Braised Corned Beef

I don’t make Corned Beef often, but when I do I’m never disappointed. How can you go wrong with a tender, juicy piece of meat that requires so little prep and tastes so good? I love the beer in this recipe too, it adds a rich, smoky flavor to the brisket. What can I say, you just need to make it and taste for yourself. ~Joanie

Remember: If you buy your spices in the bulk section you can get the exact amount you need without buying an entire bottle.

Ingredients

1 Corned Beef Brisket, approx 2 ½ – 3 lbs (a flat cut will get better immersion in the braising liquid)
2 Large Shallots or 1 Small onion, quartered
5 Garlic cloves
2 tbsp Pickling Spice (some usually comes with the brisket, but you may need more)
2 tsp Caraway Seeds
2 12-oz bottles of porter (I used my favorite, Black Butte Porter. You can really use any dark beer)

Directions

Place all ingredients in a dutch oven or deep roasting pan. Braise in a 250*F for about 4 hours. Add the dill and allow meat to braise for 1 more hour. This is a good time to prep your side dishes. I served my brisket with garlic mashed potatoes and pan gravy.

To make the pan gravy, remove some of the braising liquid and strain it into a sauce pan. Add water to dilute the saltiness. Turn heat on medium-high. Mix about ½ cup cold water with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch, slowly add a the cornstarch liquid a tablespoon at a time to the simmering gravy. Once the gravy thickens and begins to bubble, turn off the heat. Strain again if you have lumps. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Remove the brisket from braising liquid and separate into portions, removing the fatty pieces.

Plate with your favorite sides and enjoy! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache and Mint Cream

These light and fluffy cupcakes are a perfect vessel for fudgy ganache.  They are very easy to make and require ordinary ingredients.  The mint cream adds a nippy not-so-sweet element, and the green candy garnish is a tribute to St. Patrick’s Day.  These cupcakes do take a bit of time to complete all the steps, but they are beatiful and delicious and well worth the effort.  Enjoy!
~Joanie


Ingredients 

Cupcakes:
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup half & half
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Ganache:
8 oz (approx 1 ½ Cups) Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream

Mint Whipped Cream:
1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
3 Tbs Confectioners Sugar (Powdered Sugar)
1 Tsp Mint Extract

Candy Garnish:
1/2 Cup White or Chocolate Baking Chips
Food coloring, if desired

Directions:
Chocolate Cupcakes
Makes about 24 cupcakes
Preheat oven to 350*F.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Add eggs, half & half, oil and vanilla.  Beat on medium speed for about one minute.

Stir in boiling water (don’t worry if the batter looks thin).
Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full with batter.  Bake for approximately 18-22 minutes.  Allow the cupcakes to cool completely.

 

Ganache Filling

Place chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl.  Bring the cream just to a frothy boil, remove from heat and immediately pour over the chocolate.  Let it sit about 1 minute to allow the chocolate to melt.  Stir gently until the chocolate is melted and the ganache is uniform in color and glossy.

 

 To Fill the Cupcakes

Make a slit in the cupcakes, about an inch long, and about half way deep with a plastic knife.  (The cake won’t stick to a plastic knife.)  Lightly pinch the cupcake so the slit opens up like a mouth.  Using a piping bag or plastic bag with the corner snipped, carefully fill the opening with ganache.  You want it to come to the top, but not overflow.

 

Mint Cream & Candy Garnish

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To create candy garnish, using a microwave safe bowl, melt candy for about 30 seconds in microwave.  Add food coloring to desired color.  Use a piping bag to create designs on wax paper.  Allow to cool completely in freezer before handling.


In a chilled metal bowl, whip cream until stiff peaks are just about to form. Beat in sugar and mint until peaks form.  If you want a sweeter cream, add more confectioners sugar 1 tablespoon at a time.  Be sure to taste between additions.

Tip:  You can make the whipped cream ahead, but don’t “frost” the cupcakes until just before serving.

Use an piping bag to pipe whipped cream onto cupcakes.  Top with ganache drizzle & candy garnish or fresh mint leaf, if desired.  Serve immediately.

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