The weather is calling for a serious and thorough investigation of comfort food. It doesn’t get as cold here as, say, Maine, where it’s probably snowed a dozen times already, but this is relative. It feels cold.
The artfully prepared variation on meat and potatoes is precisely the kind of comfort food I’m talking about. Last night I made a shepherd’s pie with the succulent dark meat of a turkey drumstick, parsnips standing in for your standard carrots, along with broccoli, crimini mushrooms, leeks and shallots. A little goat cheese in lieu of heavy cream. There was also white wine, chicken stock, fresh thyme – essential components for striking just the right notes of familiarity and richness.
Think of this as a preemptive experiment in the creative employment of your Thanksgiving leftovers.
1 large or 2 small turkey thighs (you want about 3 cups shredded meat)
3.5 cups sliced leeks (about 3 leeks)
1 large shallot, diced (approx. 1/2 cup)
2 cups sliced parsnips
2.5 cups chopped broccoli
3 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
2 ounces goat cheese
2 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme
1 cup white wine
1 cup chicken or turkey stock
3 Tbs. flour
3 Tbs. butter
ample salt + pepper
2 lbs potatoes (about 7 medium)
3/4 c cream
2 Tbs butter
salt + pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Generously salt and pepper the turkey. Roast in oven for approximately 35 minutes, or until temperature at center of thigh (not touching bone) reads 180 degrees. Set turkey aside and, once cool, shred or cut into bite-size pieces.
While turkey is roasting, bring a pot of water to boil. Quarter potatoes, boil until soft. Drain and return to pot. Add cream and butter and mash. Add salt and pepper. Set aside.
Decrease oven temperature to 350 degrees.
In a very large skillet or stock pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add leeks and shallots, saute for a few minutes until they just begin to soften. Add parsnips, and saute for a few minutes more. Add broccoli, mushrooms and thyme, and stir occasionally until vegetables are tender, 7-10 minutes. Fold in the turkey meat at this time.
In a small sauce pan over a medium flame, combine white wine and chicken stock. When the wine and stock have warmed, add the goat cheese and stir until melted. (It might be a little globby, but this absolutely doesn’t matter.) Pour this over vegetables and allow to simmer for another 5 minutes with the occasional stir. Slowly sift in the flour. Salt and pepper to your liking. Remove filling from heat.
Ladle filling into a 9×12 baking dish. Evenly spoon potatoes on top. Bake for about 25 minutes, until bubbly around edges. Remove from oven and place under broiler for no more than 3 minutes to brown and crisp the potato topping. Serve it up!