Swap Out Ground Beef With Turkey For A Leaner Cottage Pie

Traditional cottage pie is a rich, hearty meal featuring saucy ground beef and vegetables with a fluffy mashed potato top layer that is baked to perfection. Cottage pie, like other English food, was made to be a filling meal for working-class Irish people and a clever way to use a variety of ingredients people would have on hand. Tasting Table recipe developer Jennine Rye's take on this dish swaps out ground beef for turkey, resulting in a delicious and lean turkey cottage pie. Typically, ground turkey can become dry in dishes because it lacks fat in comparison to beef or even chicken. But this saucy cottage pie helps to keep moisture in the turkey as it cooks, resulting in a flavorful, healthy swap.

Turkey sometimes gets a bad reputation in the food world because if cooked wrong it can come out lacking flavor and dry. Rye's recipe works around these troubles by stewing the meat before baking. Rye's recipe stews the turkey with the vegetables and the liquid ingredients for at least 45 minutes before transferring it into a baking dish. You can get more flavor out of your turkey by remembering the scientific Maillard Reaction. This is when you brown meats, like turkey, and the chemical reaction from the amino acids being heated makes the food smell and look more appealing. During this phase, Rye calls for the turkey to be heavily seasoned with salt and pepper as well.

Adding more flavor with marmite

A unique addition to Rye's cottage pie is the addition of marmite. Marmite is a salty, savory yeast extract that is popular in the United Kingdom but causes a sharp division between those who love it and those who hate it. Marmite is a strong flavor and typically is enjoyed as a thin spread on bread and sandwiches, but is occasionally used to bring a salty flavor to dishes as well. Though Rye says it's an optional ingredient, you should consider adding it if you want the dish to mimic ground beef more.

Rye assures that the use of marmite in this recipe does not overpower the dish. Instead, it deepens the flavor profile and adds umami to bring some of the richness back to the dish. Since the turkey is so lean, the inclusion of marmite can be a powerful tool to create the illusion of richness from ground beef without having to use it. If you do use marmite, be careful to not oversalt your dish before adding the marmite. Use a light hand with the salt during the sauté step and taste your stew mix to see if it needs more flavor.