Shepherd’s pie has plenty of variations. Try this one with roots and greens for a warm winter meal.
Although technically a shepherd’s pie is a lamb or mutton meat pie with a mashed potato topping, often one made with beef is called that as well. Technically, though, that is cottage pie. Interestingly, the cottage was originally a reference to the potato topping, affordable even to the poor cottage dweller. Also, the term cottage pie preceded shepherd’s pie by at least fifty years, and they were used interchangeably in the beginning. Now a distinction is made by some, but a hundred and fifty years ago, none was made.
I had ground lamb to use for mine, though I also have vegetarians to cook for. A vegetarian or vegan pie is sometimes called a shepherdess pie. I used homemade vegetarian taco meat in mine. Although I used white button mushrooms and cashews in what I made (I often like to follow a recipe exactly the first time), now that I’ve made it I can see it working well with shiitake mushrooms and pecans - both of which can be found locally.
I think of shepherd’s pie as being made with peas or green beans. Unless you have some preserved, though, neither is to be found in winter. Root vegetables are an excellent and hearty substitute, and fresh herbs and greens add a touch of color.
Although at first I thought adding bacon seemed a bit over the top, bacon’s flavor helped balance lamb’s strong flavor. Although I kept my pie pretty basic, stronger-flavored roots such as celeriac and fennel would go well with this dish.
Despite not eating white, “Irish” potatoes, I really wanted to make a shepherd’s pie! The internet came to my rescue again with various topping options including cauliflower, white sweet potato, turnip, and tropical roots such as yuca. Cheri Miller of Harvest Home, one source of lamb at the market, recommends parsnip as well. I wanted my topping to be a local option so the yuca was out. And, as much as I like mashed cauliflower, I wanted some starchiness. Sweet potato is too sweet, though, so I decided to do a mix of vegetables. It was a good option, though in the future I plan to cook them separately and play around with the mixture a little more to get the right balance of sweet (potato) and savory (turnip and/or cauli).
I’m happy that I’ve expanded my definition of what makes a shepherd’s pie so I can make one any time of the year.
Photos by Zachary Cross
Inspired by: Joy-Filled Nourishment; Gutsy by Nature; and Whole Life, Full Soul
2 thick cut or 4 thin cut slices bacon
1 lb ground lamb
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, smashed
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
Small bunch of fresh thyme
A couple handfuls of arugula
Salt and pepper to taste
1 white sweet potato
1 small head of cauliflower
2 tablespoons butter, plus a little more, melted, for topping
Salt and pepper to taste
Printable recipe here
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