Paleo Shepherd’s Pie

The title of this recipe does not give away too much. Yes, the recipe is gluten, grain, dairy and potato free, so no butter, cheese or potato mash, but it does not mean that the dish is in any way free from taste, flavours, and I would even say glamour. Don’t pay attention to lined aluminium tray, this dish was made as take away frozen meal. The glamour is in ingredients and taste, not in baking tray. The first difference from the traditional shepherd’s pie is in the meat ingredient. I used both deboned lamb shanks and diced chicken thighs to make this pie, slowly cooked for a long time with onions/leek, carrots and diced canned tomatoes, to make the meat completely soft and nearly disintegrated into mash. Slow and long cooking with carrots gives an amazingly rich and deep taste, where carrots balance the acidity from canned tomatoes.

The second difference is introduced not by choice. The recipe was created for the person who does not tolerate potato or even sweet potato, so I had to come up with a mash with a right texture and flavours, without being predominantly pumpkin. Roasted butternut pumpkin, cooled in baked pieces and only then blended, provided thick texture to avoid watery mash, if only cauliflower to be used. Flavour combination came not only from roasted pumpkin, but from cauliflower, sautéed with leek and carrots in the mix of olive and coconut oil.

When I slowly cook meat for shepherd’s pie, I cook double portion to make 2 pies, one paleo and another, the regular one, with potato mash and cheese on top to go to the house without dietary restrictions. Shepherds pie can be made in individual baking dishes to be served directly from the oven to suit any dietary demands. Both recipes can be frozen and baked directly from the freezer. No photos of servings, everything went away.

Ingredients:

meat layer

  • 500 diced chicken meat (I made the same bottom layer with 350g deboned lamb shanks
  • 1 baby leek or 1/2 regular leek (1 onion can be used instead)
  • 3 carrots, sliced or grated
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • pinch of fennel seeds
  • pinch of cumin seeds
  • 2 table spoons of olive oil
  • sea salt and black pepper for seasoning

vegetable mash

  • 250-300g cauliflower florets
  • 2-3 carrots
  • 200g baked butternut pumpkin (cooled and peeled), roasted pumpkin can be stored refrigerated for 2-3 days before use in shepherd’s pie
  • 1 table spoon of olive oil
  • 1 table spoon of coconut oil
  • sea salt for seasoning
  • any spice mix or preserve (optional)

Preparation:

meat layer

  • heat olive, add fennel and cumin seeds
  • slice leek/onion in semi circles, gently fry on low heat, season with salt and pepper
  • add sliced carrots and diced chicken, gently fry for 5 min
  • add canned tomatoes and water to cover meat and vegetables
  • cook on medium/low heat for 90-120 min, until meat starts to disintegrate when the sauce it stirred, add seasoning in the beginning and adjust if necessary in the end, remember that the sauce will thicken, water will evaporate, seasoning and flavours will get concentrated
  • if necessary add more water in the process
  • in the end the sauce has to be thick, not runny

  • meat sauce can be stored separately for 2-3 days refrigerated, before making pie

 vegetable mash

  • slice pumpkin into 1 cm slices, brush with olive oil, season with sea salt (I used an artisan one) and bake at 180-190C until soft, let it cool down, store refrigerated, peel the skin before used in mash

  • heat olive and coconut oil in a pan
  • add sliced leek, fry for 3 min, season with salt, cook on low heat until translucent
  • add sliced carrots and cauliflower florets
  • cover pan with a lid, cook on low heat for 5 min
  • add some water or homemade broth to the pan, cook until vegetables are ready and soft

  • when cooking is finished very little moisture should be left in the pan
  • place pumpkin and cooked vegetables in blender and process until fine texture is reached, if necessary transfer blended puree into a bowl and use stick blender
  • taste and adjust seasoning

assembly

  • place meat sauce on the bottom of baking dish, if using aluminium single use baking trays, line them with cake paper liners or baking paper
  • spread the sauce and level the layer
  • cover with vegetable mash
  • level the surface and decorate it in any way you see appropriate
  • shepherd’s pie can be baked immediately or refrigerated or frozen for future use

Recipe for shepherd’s pie with potato and sweet potato mash, with sour cream will be published in another blog with gluten free only recipes.

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