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.
My love of meatballs goes back to my days as a visiting kid at my Italian grandmother’s house on Long Island. We never, I mean never, went hungry over there, and were offered a meatball, or a “meat-a-ball” almost as soon as we came in the door. We would pull up a seat at the table that consistently could seat 12, and savor our bowl of meatballs, extra sauce, and homemade pizza bread. Then we raided the fridge for the peanut butter cups tucked in there! I needed to recreate that comfort food for my boys. Little did I know that it would become one of their favorite meals, so I couldn’t always wait until the weekend to make them. I have been experimenting and perfecting this recipe for years, and I have it down to the essentials…give it a try and I hope you love them. My guys prefer the more tender texture of turkey to beef, plus it’s much lower in saturated fat. It just translates into being able to eat this more often!
One year I saw Alton Brown make a roast turkey on Food Network, and our Thanksgivings were transformed forever! This is a recipe that I look forward to executing every year, and you will love it too. It makes people so happy to taste juicy turkey. My dad even called me one year and put me on his radio show to tell people how I do this. Enjoy it and have a great Thanksgiving! Of course, I’ll be talking to you all before then, but I wanted to give you a head start on thinking about Turkey Day…
My mom made me a big fan of chili growing up. I used to sneak into the kitchen while it was simmering and steal bites from the pot. Then she would say, “Oh babe! I didn’t even put the beans in it yet! Let me do that now.” Then, voila, time to eat! Now I make chili in all sorts of weather, generally once a week. I have made white chicken, beef, three bean and even zucchini chili, but this recipe is my favorite. Of course, adjust the seasoning to your preferred spice level. You can add cayenne pepper, ancho chili powder or other chili powders you love. This recipe makes a mild chili, which works for my family right now with the young-uns.