Di’s Shepherd’s Pie

I think I first ate this dish when I was about 16 or so. My now mother-in-law would make this heartwarming, savory, stick-to-your-ribs dish pretty often for her husband and three hungry sons, and I was always happy to be around when it was served, or for the leftovers, which heat up perfectly in the microwave. Now that I cook it myself, I use ground turkey instead of beef and made a couple of other tiny changes, but it really is Di’s Shepherd’s Pie. The creamy mashed potatoes layered on top of seasoned and lightly caramelized onions, ground turkey and corn, with some creamy cheese to bring it all together…it’s comfort on a plate. Now that I have two growing boys of my own, it makes me laugh when they ask for it once a week. 

You won't believe how quickly this whole pan of food can disappear.

You won’t believe how quickly this whole pan of food can disappear.

Di's Shepherd's Pie
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Americana Baby!
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4-6
  • olive oil
  • 2½ lbs. russet potatoes (5 or so large potatoes)
  • 2 medium yellow onions
  • 1 lb. ground turkey (94% fat free, not ground turkey breast)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 15-oz. cans whole kernel corn (I use ones with less sodium, but your choice) or a bag of frozen corn, left out on the counter for a bit to defrost
  • ¼ cup half and half or cream
  • 1 cup milk (your choice--but preferably not skim)
  • 2 tbsp. cream cheese
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • ½ lb. American cheese slices
  1. Peel potatoes and cut into large chunks. Place into a large pot, cover with cold water, add in a tablespoon of salt and place over high heat. When it boils, reduce heat to medium so it just simmers until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 12 minutes.
  2. Peel and small dice onions and place in a large (12-inch or larger) saute pan with a tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute until the onions are becoming just tender, about 4 minutes.
  3. Add the ground turkey to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Break up the turkey with a wooden spoon and cook until the turkey is cooked through.
  4. Increase heat to high and don't stir the turkey and onions for one minute (set a timer if you get tempted). This allows the bottom to caramelize just a bit, and gives great flavor. Remove pan from heat.
  5. Drain the corn if using canned and place the half and half into a food processor or blender. Add one and a half cans of corn and blitz or pulse a few times. It should still have texture but resemble creamed corn. Add this corn, as well as the extra half can of whole kernels, to the turkey and stir.
  6. Drain the potatoes using the pot lid, then add the milk, butter, cream cheese and some salt and pepper and cover but leave off the heat so the residual heat melts the butter and cream cheese. Mash the potatoes really well, beating them up even more than you might think (I learned that this makes a great mashed potato). Add more milk, butter, cream cheese, salt or pepper as necessary to your taste.
  7. Return the turkey pan to medium heat to heat the corn through, then turn heat off and layer on slices of American cheese so all of the turkey mixture is covered. (You may have some extra slices for another time.)
  8. Dollop the mashed potatoes all over the turkey mixture and smooth it out with a spatula. Enjoy!


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