What could be more comforting on a cold winter evening than ground beef and gravy topped with mashed potatoes? I’ll tell you what: flavorful ground beef topped with creamy mashed cauliflower!
Cottage pie is a traditionally British or Irish dish made from beef, and it’s a kissin’ cousin to shepherd’s pie, which is made with lamb. The term ‘cottage pie’ has been around since 1791, when potatoes were introduced as an edible food for the poor. (Um… yeah, let’s give the less fortunate poison. That’s a great idea!) Back then, cottage pie was topped not with mashed spuds, but with slices that mimicked the tiles on a rustic cottage roof, hence the name.
Meat topped with potatoes isn’t only found in the U.K. Natives of Quebec enjoy “pâté chinois;” the French eat “hachis Parmentier;” in the Middle East, it’s “Siniyet Batata,” and in the Dominican Republic, they add cheese and call it “pastelón de papa.”
I’m callin’ mine Shepherd’s Pie… help yourself to a big serving of comfort and nutrition. I replaced the potatoes with cauliflower, eliminated the green peas, used coconut products instead of dairy, and replaced the Worcestershire – made with high-fructose corn syrup… boo! – with coconut aminos. This recipe can easily be doubled and frozen, and it’s pretty quick to make – perfect for a weeknight when you want to crawl into something warm and toasty.
Prep 30 min | Cook 30 min | Serves 4-6
1 large bag frozen cauliflower florets, defrosted
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
salt & pepper to taste
paprika for garnish
1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)
2 carrots, peeled and finely diced (about 1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
2 pounds ground lamb
salt and black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup beef or chicken broth
1 teaspoon coconut aminos or homemade substitute
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
3 egg whites
paprika, for garnish
1. Make the Topping: Cook the cauliflower according to the package directions until it’s very soft, but not waterlogged. In a microwave-safe bowl or small saucepan, heat the garlic, coconut oil, coconut milk, salt, and pepper, about 1 minute. Meanwhile, purée the cauliflower in the bowl of a food processor, scraping down the sides. Add the coconut milk to the processor, along with 1 tablespoon of chives. Process about 10 seconds. Taste and adjust seasonings; then set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
3. Make the Filling: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, about 3 minutes. Add coconut oil and allow it to melt. Add the onion and carrot, reduce heat to medium-low and cover; allow the vegetables to get soft but not brown, about 5 minutes.
4. Add the garlic to the pan and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. With your hands, crumble the ground lamb into the pan and break up large chunks with a wooden spoon. Sauté until it’s cooked through and brown, about 5-10 minutes. Taste, then season with salt and pepper.
5. Add the tomato paste, broth, coconut aminos, rosemary, and thyme to the pan. Stir to combine, then bring to a boil and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Set the pan aside and let it cool for 10-15 minutes. Beat the egg whites until frothy and blend into the meat mixture.
6. Assemble It: Spread the meat mixture evenly in a 12X6-inch (2.2 quart) baking dish. With a rubber scraper and a light hand, spread the mashed cauliflower on top of the meat. Gently drag the tines of a fork in a zigzag pattern across the surface to create a texture—the peaks and valleys turn a lovely golden brown in the oven. Sprinkle the top lightly with paprika.
7. Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top begins to brown. Remove to a cooling rack for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Note: If you want to up the veggie ante and don’t mind making it even less traditional, chopped greens like spinach, kale, collards, or chard (frozen or fresh) would taste great mixed into the meat.
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