Jaron and I returned late last night from our first trip across the Atlantic.  4 days and nights in Ireland.  We got a great deal (seriously, cheaper than flying home for Christmas…) and it was a destination we’d both been enamored with for quite some time.  What better way to welcome 30 years of living than fish and chips and a pint at a thousand year-old Irish pub?  If you ever need to feel young, just spend some time where there is real history, heartache, and triumph.  We LOVED Ireland.

Since our stay was so short we spent most of our time in Dublin, walking the stone-paved sidewalks, marveling at the Christmas decorations on Grafton Street, and feeling a little bit like we’d just been dropped into a Harry Potter movie.

We also took a train one morning to visit the coastal town of Howth with a priceless hike along the cliffs before fresh fish and chips at the docks.

Meals were meaty and huge.  The surroundings were almost always quaint and sturdy.  On our final day we visited the legendary cafe at Avoca village and had brown bread and with roasted tomato and red pepper soup for lunch.  Supper was a half liter of microbrew and fish pie back in Dublin at a gastro pub that was part of an old castle and I was spellbound by the detail of the architecture and the simplicty of the wonderful food.  Two meals I will never forget.

So on returning home to Thanksgiving I’ve got Irish food on my mind and ideas brewing for ways to incorporate it into upcoming meals based on Thanksgiving leftovers.  I wondered about combining the two and settled on adapting Avoca’s recipe for shepherd’s pie to use leftover turkey and sweet potatoes.  The result was exactly what we were hoping for.

First, the prep.  Peel and chop 1 yellow onion.  In a large pan or stock pot, saute the onion in about 4 tbsp olive oil until translucent, but not brown.  Shred 4 cups of leftover turkey with a fork and add to onions.  (You can also use 2 lb ground turkey.  If so, add it raw to the cooked onions and brown before adding other ingredients.)

Also add:

3 tbsp worcestersire

2 whole sprigs thyme

1 teaspoon tomato paste

3 carrots, peeled and diced

2 chicken bouillon cubes and 2 c water

salt and pepper to taste

Cover and cook this combination on low heat for 25 minutes.  Remove cover and continue to cook on low for 25 minutes more.  Preheat oven to 350 F.

If using leftover mashed sweet potatoes make sure you have at least 4 cups.  If starting fresh, peel and cube 3 lb of sweet potatoes.  Place in stock pot, cover in water, add salt, and bring to boil.  Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes, or until tender.  Drain the potatoes and put back over low heat.  Add 1 c half and half, 4 tbsp butter, 1 egg yolk, and salt and pepper to taste.  Mash the potatoes well and taste, adjust seasoning as desired.  Set aside.

Once the meat mixture is done, remove the thyme sprigs and spread it into the bottom of a deep pie dish, along with juices from the pan.  Cover with the mashed sweet potato and spread evenly, creating texture as desired.  Heat at 350F for 20 minutes and broil for 5 more, or until the sweet potato mash has browned at its tips.  If you want to make this ahead of meal time, let it cool in the refridgerator and leave time to warm it at 350F for 40 minutes.

This turned out to be a great dish and adapted with very little adjustment.  Hearty, sweet, savory, and fresh-tasting.  Approximately 8 servings.

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