Shepherd’s pie is the quintessential wintertime comfort dish: It’s meaty, buttery, and, if you eat it throughout the season, you’ll emerge in the springtime a few pounds heavier. Uh oh. Because while shepherd’s pie is delicious, all those starchy white potatoes and copious amounts of butter can take their toll.
But eating healing foods doesn’t mean skipping your favorites. In fact, it’s just the opposite — it makes your favorites even tastier! That’s the deal with my lightened up Shepherd’s Pie. I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve to not only make this classic healthier, but to make it taste even better than the original.
What Is Shepherd’s Pie?
The recipe title of shepherd’s pie did not make an appearance until 1854. Initially it was used synonymously with cottage pie, regardless of whether the meat was beef or mutton. Mutton is meat from sheep that’s around 3 years old versus lamb meat is usually around one year old. As you can imagine, mutton is less desirable meat but much less expensive than lamb.
Accordingly, this common dish comes from the sheep country of northern England and Scotland. shepherd’s pie, common and inexpensive British dish originating from the sheep country in Scotland and northern England.
Today there’s still a debate about what meat shepherd’s pie should use and whether or not is should include cheese. Typically it’s made today with ground lamb or ground beef, or a blend of the two. In the true classic shepherd’s pie recipe, cheese is not an ingredient. These days, it often finds its way into various varsions, such as Parmesan cheese or even aged cheddar. I don’t include it in this easy shepherd’s pie.
How to Make Shepherd’s Pie
Before touching any of these gorgeous ingredients, you’ll want to prepare my Mashed Faux-tatoes. By using a cauliflower mashed “potato,” we’re adding tons of cauliflower benefits, like loads of vitamin C and almost zero fat, sugar or sodium.
However, if you insist on having potatoes as part of this classic dish, then by all means. I’d recommend you try mashed sweet potatoes for the topping, or Yukon Gold potatoes. Sweet potatoes are loaded with nutrition. They contain a good amount of fiber as well as vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese and several other vitamins and minerals.
Simply bring a pot of water to boil, add some salt, and then add peeled potatoes (around 4 pounds, which is about 7 mid-sized potatoes).
Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain well, then put the potatoes back in the pot. Mash them in a bowl with chives, garlic, butter, sea salt and pepper.
Once that’s done, we’ll kick things off by heating a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add your ground beef or lamb, carrots and onions and cook for 10–15 minutes. Stir them frequently, until the beef has browned and the veggies are softening.
Remove the pan from heat and drain the meat and veggies, getting rid of any fat that accumulated in the pan. Then add the peas to the mix, combining them well. Pour the filling into an 8×8 baking dish and set aside. We’ll come back to this beauty.
Now it’s time to get the gravy going! This is my favorite part of shepherd’s pie and this version doesn’t disappoint. In a medium pot, add the stock, cauliflower, onion, salt and pepper. Leave it uncovered and heat until the ingredients are simmering. Let that simmer happen for 10 minutes. Then toss in the fresh thyme, rosemary and garlic and remove from the heat.
Let the mixture cool a bit and then, in a high-powered blender, add Worcestershire sauce and butter, then pour the stock mixture you just made over it. Purée it all up until it’s nice and smooth, then add in the digestion friendly arrowroot starch and purée again.
It’s amazing how creamy the cauliflower makes this gravy, even without milk or cream. And the arrowroot starch is great at thickening the sauce up. Mmm.
Now, take the gravy mix from the blender and pour it evenly over the filling in the baking dish. Then, take your faux-tatoes and spread them on top of the gravy. How great does this look right now?
Bake the dish at 400 F for 30 minutes or until the top is browned and the gravy begins bubbling, whichever comes first. Let it cool for 10 minutes — this stuff is hot! Garnish with any of the leftover fresh herbs you have and serve.
While this might not be a 30-minute meal, this shepherd’s pie is worth the extra effort. It makes a delicious Sunday dinner and the leftovers are stellar, too.Print
I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve to not only make this classic shepherd’s pie recipe healthier, but to make it taste even better than the original.
- 2 recipes Mashed Faux-Tatoes (or 4 pounds sweet potatoes or Yukon Gold potatoes, which is about 7 medium-sized potatoes — peeled and cut into 1″ cubes)
- if you make the potatoes, add these:
- ¼ cup grass-fed butter
- ¼ cup minced chives
- 3 cloves roasted garlic, chopped
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 pound ground grass-fed beef or lamb
- 2 large carrots, sliced thin
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1½ cups green frozen peas, cooked according to package directions
- 2 cups beef or lamb stock
- 1 cup cauliflower, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ fresh ground pepper
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
- 3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 1½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 4 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup arrowroot starch
- First make the mashed cauliflower. (You can also go with mashed sweet potatoes or Yukon gold potatoes, if you absolutely need that potato taste!)
- If you go with potatoes for the topping, put the cubed potatoes in a pot of salted boiling water. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender about 10 minutes.
- Drain the potatoes by pouring them into a strainer, then put the potatoes back in the pot. Toss in the cauliflower, chives, garlic, butter, sea salt and pepper. Mash until well blended.
- For the filling, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add meat, carrots, and onions and cook, stirring often, until meat is browned and vegetables have begun to soften, 10-15 minutes.
- Remove from heat and drain filling mixture to remove excess fat. Add the peas, stirring to combine. Pour filling in the bottom of an 8×8 baking dish and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 400 F.
- For the gravy, in a medium pot, combine the stock, cauliflower, onion, salt and pepper. Heat, uncovered, over medium-high heat until simmering. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add thyme, rosemary, garlic and remove from heat.
- In a high-powered blender, place Worcestershire and butter and pour stock mixture over top. Purée together until smooth. Add arrowroot starch and purée until smooth.
- Pour gravy evenly over filling in dish. Spread mashed faux-tatoes or mashed potatoes on top.
- Bake at 400 F for 35 minutes, or until the topping begins to brown and the gravy is bubbling. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.
- Prep Time: 30 min
- Cook Time: 35 min
- Category: Main dishes
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: English
- Serving Size: 1½ cups
- Calories: 418
- Sugar: 6.1g
- Sodium: 754mg
- Fat: 29g
- Saturated Fat: 16.4g
- Unsaturated Fat: 9.9g
- Trans Fat: 1.1g
- Carbohydrates: 17.4g
- Fiber: 4.8g
- Protein: 23.9g
- Cholesterol: 115mg
Keywords: shepherd's pie recipe, recipe for shepherd's pie