Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s Pie, says Wikipedia, entered “early cookery books, as a means of using leftover roasted meat of any kind, and the pie dish was lined with mashed potato as well as having a mashed potato crust on top.

“The term “shepherd’s pie” did not appear until 1877, and since then it has been used synonymously with “cottage pie” [in use since 1791], regardless of whether the principal ingredient was beef or mutton. More recently, the term “shepherd’s pie” has been used when the meat is lamb, the theory being that shepherds are concerned with sheep and not cattle.”

I’m Irish, so lamb is one of my favorite meats, but ground beef, turkey, or even chicken can be used here. It’s only a recipe, after all. Feel free to improvise…always. To create a low-carb dish, this recipe uses a rich mashed cauliflower as a topping…a completely delicious substitute for mashed potatoes. Note: Paleo/Primal folk can leave out anything too processed with no loss of flavor. Vegetarians can substitute Beyond Burger crumble for the beef. 🙂

Shepherd’s Pie
Yield: 4 servings /  783 calories, 9g net carbs*

1 medium-large head cauliflower
3 ounces grass-fed cream cheese, softened
1 large egg
1⁄4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)
½ teaspoon Celtic sea salt
1⁄8 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons organic extra virgin olive oil
1 cup turnip, daikon, or jicama, 3/4″ cubes
1 carrot, medium cut into 3/4-inch cubes
2 cups mushrooms, cut into quarters
1 cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 pounds ground grass-fed lamb
(any grass-fed ground meat can be substituted, as can Beyond Burger crumbles)
1 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 cup beef, chicken or vegetable broth
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 teaspoon guar gum /or/ xanthan powder

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat, and then oil an 8×8-inch casserole dish with olive oil.

Clean and cut cauliflower into small pieces and place in the pot to boil for about 6 minutes until soft.

While the cauliflower is cooking, prepare the filling. Pour the olive oil into a 12-inch saute pan and set over medium-high heat. Add the onion and mushrooms, and sauté until they begin to take on color, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir to combine. Turn heat to low.

In another pan, add the meat, salt and pepper, and cook until browned and cooked through, approximately 3 minutes. Pour off the accumulated juices.

Pour off any juices the mushrooms have released, then add the meat to the vegetable pan and add turnip (or jicama, or daikon) cubes, tomato paste, chicken broth, Worcestershire, rosemary, thyme, and stir to combine. Add some cold water to a small bowl and whisk in the guar gum or xanthan powder until it’s smooth and thickened, then add back into the pan, whisking to mix. Bring to a boil, increase the heat to medium-high, and reduce the juices for 10 to 12 minutes. There should be very little juice left in the pan. Pour the filling into a baking pan or small casserole dish.

Once the cauliflower is cooked, drain well and return to the pot. Stir continually over medium-low heat to dry out the cooked cauliflower as much as possible. Place the hot cauliflower into a food processor along with the cream cheese, egg, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and blend until smooth.

Spoon the mashed cauliflower over top of the ground lamb in the casserole dish, spreading to cover evenly. Alternatively, you can pipe the mashed cauliflower into rows of fluted pyramids or long rows of wavy ribbons (my sweetie created the pretty piping in the photo). Bake for about 20-40 minutes, until the top just starts to brown. Remove and let sit a few minutes before serving.

*Beyond Burger crumbles: 4 oz. / 110g—90 calories, 2 net carbs
Ground lamb, 4 oz. / 113g—319 calories, 0 carbs
Ground beef, 4 oz. / 100g—332 calories, 0 carbs