Merguez Shepherd’s Pie

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Shepherd’s pie is always comforting and homey, but traditional recipes for it (I’m looking at you, Joy of Cooking!) can be bland. This recipe adds spices based on Merguez – a Moroccan sausage – to give it some heat and kick.

It’s excellent reheated with an over-easy egg on it for breakfast. For this, try frying a scoop of shepherd’s pie in olive oil until it is a little bit crunchy.

2 lb ground turkey thigh

2 cups chicken stock

1/4 cup flour

a large onion, chopped

2 tsp garlic

1/4 cup olive oil

1 1/2 tsp cumin

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp dried thyme or 2 tsp fresh thyme

1 tsp red pepper flakes

2 lb cooked corn kernels

2-3 lbs potatoes

1 cup milk

2 Tb butter (optional) or 6 oz crumbled feta cheese (optional), probably not both

salt and pepper to taste

Peel the potatoes and cut them up into chunks. Put them in a pot and cover with water to which two teaspoons of salt have been added. Boil them until easily mushed with a fork, about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400.

Mix the ground turkey with the salt, cumin, thyme, and red pepper flakes.

Put the olive oil in a large frying pan and turn the heat up to medium-high. Fry the ground turkey for a minute or two, until it loses most of its pinkness. Add the garlic and onion and cook for a few minutes more, until the onion is translucent and the turkey has started to brown.

Dust the flour over the ground turkey mixture and stir it in, letting the flour cook for a couple minutes. Add the stock and stir to make a slightly thickened gravy. Add up to another 1/2 cup of stock if you like a juicier filling.

Put the turkey mixture into a dish that can go in the oven. That may be two dishes, depending on their size: this recipe fits well into two 8″ dishes. Spread the corn evenly over the turkey.

Mash the potatoes roughly with a fork or masher. Mix in enough milk to get an appealing fluffy consistency. Add butter or feta if you wish. Spread the mashed potatoes over the corn. If you like brown peaks, now is the time to sculpt them into the potatoes.

Put the shepherd’s pie(s) into the oven for about 30 minutes, until the potatoes have started to brown. If you want more drama, you can put the broiler on for a few minutes and get the top more brown, but watch carefully.

Nice served with a dusting of whatever fresh herbs you have around on top.

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