Karl’s Ying and Yang Cottage Pie

Jan asked for a “healthier” shepherd’s pie for dinner on a weeknight. By “healthier” she meant no lamb or beef and no white potatoes. I decided to use ground turkey as my meat and—since I still wanted a Russet potato topping—I would make a fifty-fifty topping with sweet potatoes.

Karl’s Ying and Yang Cottage Pie

Karl’s Ying and Yang Cottage Pie

I have struggled with the naming pies like this. I now know that a proper shepherd’s pie is only made with lamb. When I made a pie like this with beef I posted it as a shepherd’s pie, but further reading tells me that it is more correctly a Cottage pie. These pies—by whatever name—are basically a minced meat stew topped with mashed potatoes—they were originally a dish to make with the leftover meat and potatoes of a feast day.

Usually when I make these pies I make enough to feed 6-8 people, filling an 8″ x 13″ pan. As this was a weekday meal, I wanted to simplify and reduce the dish to feed only four—Eilene was having a friend over—actually, I ended up feeding five, because another friend dropped by unexpectedly. I reduced the recipe to fit into an 8″ x 8″ baking pan.

After Dinner Note: While my Ying and Yang were not as smooth as I wanted and I had a side leak, it was close enough that Eilene’s Asian friend instantly recognized it.

Karl’s Ying and Yang Cottage Pie


Potato Toppings

1 large Idaho potato, peeled and chunked
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chunked
1 tsp. Kosher salt, separate uses

2 Tbs. butter, separate uses
1 large egg, beaten,
¼ cup warmed milk or cream


4 Tbs. butter, separate uses
¾ lb. ground turkey

1 onion, diced
½ tsp. Kosher salt
1 rib celery, diced
1 small carrot, shredded
½ lb. green beans, cut into ¼ inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely

½ tsp. thyme
½ tsp. chervil
½ tsp. black pepper, or to taste
12 oz. (1 jar) turkey gravy (I took the short cut of using Heinz)


1. Peel and chop the potatoes them into medium, even chunks.

2. Put the Russets and sweet potatoes into separate small pots and cover them with water.

3. Add ½ teaspoon of salt into each pan and set them on the stove.

Note: Do not turn on the burners at this time.

Tip: Prep, measure, and reserve all of your ingredients at this point.

4. Melt one tablespoon of butter into a deep, large skillet over medium-high heat.

5. Form the ground turkey into a single large patty.

Tip: This is an America’s Test Kitchen technique that allows you to get the flavor benefit of the Maillard reaction without turning all of your meat into dry, hard, little rocks.

6. Brown the meat patty well on both sides.

7. Transfer the meat to a bowl when done and reserve.

Tip: After the turkey has cooled break it into small bite sized pieces.

8. Deglaze the pan with one tablespoon of water and pour any remaining liquid into the bowl.

9. Add two tablespoons of butter to the pan and sauté onions with the salt, over medium high heat, until they are just starting to pick up some color (about 5 minutes).

10. Turn the potatoes on to high heat at this point.

Tip: When the pots come to a boil, cover them, and turn the heat down to medium low.

Note: After 12-15 minutes check the potatoes for doneness.

11. Add the celery, carrot, and green beans to the onions.

12. Continue sautéing until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes.

13. Scrape the vegetables to the edges of the pan and add the last of the butter.

14. Sauté the garlic in the hole in the center of the pan until fragrant, about one minute.

15. Stir the garlic into the vegetables.

16.  Add the thyme, chervil, and pepper to taste into the pan.

17. Stir in the turkey and gravy and simmer the stew for a few minutes.

18. By this time the potatoes should be close to being done.

Tip: When the potatoes are done, a knife will slide into the largest piece easily.

19. Drain the potatoes and return them to their respective pots.

Tip: Mash one type of potato at a time.

20. Rice the potatoes into their respective pots.

Tip: A potato ricer looks like a very large garlic press. I consider it a must-have to produce smooth, fluffy potatoes.

21. Scramble one egg into a small measuring cup.

22. Warm and mix the milk into the scrambled egg.

Tip: You do not want the milk to be so hot that it cooks the egg, but you do not want the milk to be refrigerator cold.

23. Use the residual heat of the potatoes to melt one tablespoon of butter into each mound of mashed potatoes.

24. Gently mix half of the egg/milk mixture into each type of potatoes.

Tip: Do not over mix the Russet potatoes or they will turn “gluey.”

25. While stew is simmering, set the oven rack to the middle of the oven and preheat oven.

26. Pour the stew into a Pam-ed 8″ x 8″ baking pan.

27. Spoon each type of potato over half of the pan in a Yin-Yang pattern.

Tip: Use a dampened spatula to smooth out the potatoes.

Note: Scoop out a dot in the center of each side to place in the other side to complete the  Yin-Yang pattern.

28. Place casserole in the oven and broil until the potatoes are golden brown and crusty (about 15 to 20 minutes).

29. Let the pan cool for 10 minutes before serving.


Filed under California Fusion, Main Dishes, Potatoes, Poultry, Turkey, Weeknight

2 responses to “Karl’s Ying and Yang Cottage Pie

  1. Pingback: Karl’s Rustic Shepherd’s Pie | Jabberwocky Stew

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