Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Real Food Shepherd's Pie

This almost Paleo dish was a huge success around here.  Any dinner leftovers were eaten by a certain 'Daddy Monster' while he did the supper washing up.  I would like to say that we ate this with a huge salad like I would recommend for you and yours to do but after a very cold and busy day we were hungry and looking for filling, yummy, and dense.....but that doesn't mean it can't be healthy. I often find Shepherd's Pie meat to be dry and over cooked.  This one has a whisper of gravy cooked into it.  Never dry and full of tons of flavour.  I made this without mashing the potatoes - you can, I didn't because my son doesn't like mashed potatoes (who doesn't like mash potatoes?) but it was such a nice texture this way that I recommend trying it and went ahead and took photos this way.

Real Food Shepherd's Pie                                                          preheat oven 350
The Filling
1 lbs grass fed ground beef
1 lbs naturally raised ground pork
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 onions, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
4-6 brown mushrooms, diced
1 cup frozen or 1 can organic corn niblets (use peas if Paleo/SCD or can't tolerate corn)
4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 bottle of Gluten Free Beer (optional)
1 cup homemade Chicken Stock or Beef Stock
1/2 tsp cayenne powder
1 tsp dried or fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
Salt and Pepper

The Topping
3 lg sweet potatoes

In a large cast iron or oven proof pan saute over medium high heat, the onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms, and garlic in a little oil and a pat of raw butter.  When the vegetables start to soften, about 4 minutes, add the thyme, bay leaves, cayenne and salt and pepper.   Stir to combine.

Crumble the ground meats into the vegetables breaking up any larger pieces.  When the meat is almost completely browned add the beer and stock (double the stock and forgo the beer if Paleo), scraping up any brown bit stuck to the bottom of the pan. 

At this point there are two ways to thicken the 'gravy'.  One is to spoon out about a 1/4 cup of the liquid into a bowl and whisk in 1 tsp of corn starch making a 'slurry' that is then added back into the filling.  This gives the 'gravy' a nice smooth texture but I am not that fond of the flavour the corn starch imparts and it has absolutely no food valueI prefer to add one white or yellow potato into the pot of sweet potatoes, when done, finely mash it and combine it to the 'gravy'.  It thickens while not adding any foreign flavours.  It is not as 'pretty looking' as using corn starch but it is a real food....neither are Paleo/GI/SCD friendly, both are gluten free.

Turn the heat down, add the corn and let this simmer until the liquid cooks down by about half.

If you haven't already, bring the potatoes to a boil in water.  Cook until tender but not falling apart.  Drain and leave to steam off the excess water.  When the filling is ready, make sure it is evenly distributed in the pan and top with the potatoes. (You can freeze it at this point)

Put in the oven to heat through and brown up the tops of the potatoes.  Serve with a big salad.....or not!

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