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Gluten-Free Sheperd's Pie
A high number of Irish (compared to other nationalities) seem to be plagued by gluten intolerance/Celiac disease. Apparently, the Irish have conspiracy theories involving the English and Celiac. The leading theory claims that it's due to the fact that the English shipped all the wheat out of Ireland at one point, so the Irish people never got used to eating it.
For whatever reason, eight years ago, almost to the day, I was diagnosed with Celiac disease. And as an American-Irish girl, it was my duty to make a shepherd's pie for St. Patrick's Day, so I had for come up with a couple of easy substitutions. I found it to be daunting.
The year before, I found myself eating the most incredible shepherd’s pie, better than my mother’s, at a pub in the Boston area. (In my eyes, my mother, bless her soul, was the most incredible cook ever.) But back to this newfound shepherd’s pie benchmark that I found at Matt Murphy’s Pub in Brookline, Mass. At first, it looked ordinary with a browned topping of mashed potatoes, but once I dug in, I could see chunks of stew meat and rosemary. This is the version that I had to reproduce.
In my mind, the ultimate shepherd’s pie is a base of tasty lamb stew with lots of rosemary topped with browned creamy mashed potatoes. The only two components that are not gluten-free are the flour and beer. (Easy substitutions as I will get to below.) I suggest drinking a gluten-free beer with it such as Green's dark ale. Brewed in Belgium, it does not quite resemble an Irish Stout beer, but it is close enough.
For the stew:
- ½ cup potato starch (not potato flour)
- Salt and pepper
- Dash of cayenne, or more, to taste
- 1-1 ¼ pounds cubed lamb meat (½-1-inch from the leg)
- 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, plus more as needed
- 1 bottle (16 ounces) gluten-free beer, preferably Redbridge or Bard’s
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced fine
- 3 carrots, cut into small oblique (see note below)
- 1 cup fresh button mushrooms, sliced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
- 1 cup peas
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme (optional)
For the whipped potatoes:
- 2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- ½ stick butter
- Salt and white pepper, to taste
- ½ cup heated milk (more or less for desired creaminess)
- Parsley, chopped, for garnish (optional)
For the stew:
Season the potato starch well with salt, pepper, and cayenne in a large mixing bowl. Toss the lamb with starch mixture in bowl, until evenly coated. Warm a large, 12-inch skillet and add oil over medium-high heat. Brown the meat in the skillet, until the coating is browned on both sides. Split into 2 batches if needed. (Do not overcrowd or will not brown well.) Remove from heat. Place the seared meat and gluten-free beer into a slow cooker or a large (3-4 quart) heavy sauce pan; put on low heat.
Cook onions in the same skillet as the lamb, adding more oil if needed, over medium heat until transparent; remove and add onions to meat. Add the carrots, mushrooms, tomato paste, bay leaves, and half the rosemary to the lamb and onion mixture and stir until thoroughly mixed on low heat. Cook covered, with occasional stirring, for at least 2 hours. 30 minutes before removing stew from heat, add in the peas, the remaining rosemary, and thyme. Taste for seasoning, adding in more salt and pepper as needed.
For the whipped potatoes:
Boil the potatoes with salt until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Then drain well. Place potatoes into a large mixing bowl and add butter in small pats, while potatoes are still hot. Using a hand mixer, beat the potatoes on low until smooth. Add in any remaining butter, salt, and white pepper to taste. Increase mixer speed to medium speed, and beat until smoother. Slowly add all the milk using a low mixing speed; increase mixing speed to make fluffy. Add more milk if needed to make creamier.
To assemble, turn on broiler. Using an oven-safe casserole dish (individual soufflé dishes or 1 large dish), fill the dish halfway with the stew, smoothing it out to make sure it is evenly distributed. Place potatoes on top and carefully spread out to cover the top of the stew. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. Place under broiler for about 5 minutes, until potatoes are lightly browned.
How to Make Gluten-Free Shepherd’s Pie:
Step one is to bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a medium-large pot. Peel and cube 2 lbs of potatoes while the water is heating up. Carefully put the cubed potatoes in the boiling water and boil for 15 minutes.
Step two is to make the beef and vegetable base with the gravy. Start by browning 2 lbs ground beef in a large skillet or shallow Dutch oven.
Add in diced onion and cook for 5 minutes until the onions are starting to turn translucent.
Then add the following to the ground beef and onions: peas & carrots, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, salt, and pepper. Then stir in 1 ½ cups of beef broth, saving back ½ cup.
Add the cornstarch to the reserved beef broth and whisk together. Add this mixture to the beef. Cook over medium heat for several minutes, stirring occasionally.
After 15 minutes of boiling the potatoes, use a fork to test to make sure they are tender. (If they aren’t tender enough boil them for a couple more minutes.) Drain the potatoes in a colander and then return them to the pot. Add the buttery spread, nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper. Mash a with a potato masher or mix with a hand mixer. Then mix in the egg and almond milk.
Before adding the mashed potatoes remove the bay leaves out of the beef mixture. Next, take the mashed potatoes and dollop them on top of the beef and vegetables.
Spread the mashed potatoes out completely to the edge of the pan. I used a 3-quart shallow Dutch oven but you can put the mixture into a 9 x 13-inch baking pan as well. This was coming right up to the top of my Dutch oven so a 9 x 13-inch pan will give you a bit more room to work with.
Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes at 350°. You can serve immediately or let it sit for 10-15 minutes to allow the beef and gravy mixture to set up more. It’s delicious either way.
I hope you enjoy this delicious dish. I serve this as a stand-alone dish but if you want to add some side you could serve it with a salad, broccoli, green beans, grain-free biscuits, or cornbread.
What is soy, and is it healthy?
Soy (i.e. soybean) is a standard high-protein meat replacement in vegan cooking and vegan meats. For this recipe, I’ve used soy mince which absorbs flavour well, and it can be used in place of ground beef in just about any recipe
Tofu, tempeh and edamame all originate from soybeans too.
Soybeans are a whole source of protein a.k.a ‘complete protein’, meaning it provides your body with all the essential amino acids it needs. Therefore, making all forms of soy protein a very healthy plant-based alternative to eating meat.
Plus, eating plant-based allows you to make a positive impact on the environment, and skip out the saturated fat content found in meat which benefits your health. You can read more about the benefits of going meat-free here.
Edamame beans are young soybeans which need to be steamed/boiled before consumption. I first tried them when I travelled, and bl**dy loved them. They’re high in protein and rich in folate, vitamin K and fibre.
Soy is often criticised as many rainforests around the world have been destroyed to make room for more soy crops. However, it’s important to note that over 70% of the world’s soy is fed directly to livestock in the form of protein-enriched feed. Only 6% is used for human consumption, which provides more motive for living life without meat.
As the soy industry grows, a lot of soy is genetically modified and treated with pesticides. Therefore, look out for organic and GMO-free brands, or even make your own to decrease your environmental impact.
Just 1 hour from start to finish, this vegan and gluten-free shepherds pie is simple and has comfort written all over it. I feel it’ll be a popular choice for an easy weeknight meal in colder months ahead.
My partner and I love the flavour, consistency and simple nature of this dish.
I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments once you’ve tried it. I’m sure you will adore the taste and be delighted by how yummy a Life Without Meat can be.
A Low FODMAP Shepherd’s Pie
This is the fourth in a series of dinners that I have prepared for my daughter-in-law after her lactation consultant advised an elimination diet. (You can find out what we have been eating and more on elimination diets here.)
To make the recipe low-FODMAP, we removed the onions and garlic from the original recipe and replaced them with asafetida. Read more about asafetida – it’s pretty amazing!
I assure you that neither you nor your eaters will notice anything missing! This pie is really just a tasty layer of mashed potatoes on a flavorful meat-vegetable mixture. I have written this recipe so that it’s easy to use onions if you are eating them, and leave them out if not.
Healthy Shepherds Pie (Gluten Free)
This Healthy Gluten Free Shepherds Pie is a great week night meal, its packed with flavour and plenty of vegetables to give you a healthy meal. Like many good meals, the flavours mature overnight so you can even enjoy this for lunch the next day!
- 2 tbs olive oil (to be used in half portions)
- 1 medium onion, chopped finely
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 3 large carrots, finely diced
- ¼ cup mushrooms, sliced thinly
- ½ cup frozen peas
- 500ml beef stock
- 500gm minced lamb or beef (I used lamb)
- 2 tbs tomato puree (aka passata)
- 1 tbs GF worcestershire sauce
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 medium russet (or any white) potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 tbs butter
- 1tbs milk
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 220°C (or 200°C if fan forced).
- Heat a large pan (preferably one with a lid as you will need the lid later, electric frying pans are easy to use for this reason) with 1 tbs oil and sauté onion, garlic, mushrooms, carrots and peas for 5 minutes or until they soften. Set aside in a bowl.
- Using the same pan, 1 tbs of oil and brown the mince.
- Add stock, tomato puree & worcestershire sauce, then bring to a simmer, covered for 15 minutes, then add seasoning to taste, stir and continue to simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, boil potatoes for 15-20 minutes until soft. Place the cooked potatoes in a large bowl and mash with ⅔ tbs butter, milk, ½ tsp salt and ½ tsp cinnamon until smooth. Cover with foil to retain heat and set aside.
- Place the meat mixture in a baking dish, cover with the mashed potato and even out with the back of a spoon or fork (using a fork will likely give better texture than what appears on the top of mine).
- Brush potato top with ⅓ tbs melted butter and bake for 20-25 minutes until top is starting to brown and crisp.
The great thing about this dish is you can add as many vegetables as you like in. This is great for kids or just increasing your nutrient intake in general. Other vegetables that would work well include eggplant, celery, zucchini and sundried tomatoes – but really your imagination is the limit!
I used 1/2 sweet potato and 1/2 regular potatoes for the topping but you can use all sweet potatoes or all regular potatoes if you would prefer. This article is really interesting about the nutritional content of both and overall it is recommended to have both types of potatoes in your diet.
What vegetables do you like to put in your shepherds pie?
Here's a classic recipe I conjured up a few years ago, living in the wilds of Northern New Mexico. I had been craving comfort food- to be specific- a rustic shepherd's pie. Because mashed potatoes. (And who doesn't occasionally crave a smashed spud crust, right?).
So here is my recipe from the GFG Archives- with a true-blue love story to boot.
It's been a warm and breezy week here by the Chama River north of Santa Fe. The promise of Spring is tugging at our sluggish winter bodies, cracking and stiff and a tad thicker than one would care to admit. We are itchy to walk- just as the junipers are shedding pollen in curtains of dirty yellow. We walked and sneezed and rubbed gritty eyes. The coyotes are laughing on the rim of the mesa. I listen and note they are closer than usual, emboldened by our wintery hibernation. The land belongs to them now. We're simply tourists. As it should be, I murmur.
Meeting your soul mate (did I just write the words soul mate?) after mid-life will humble you. An autumn meeting of kindred spirits inspires a sharp thirst for more time. More juice. Looking ahead- down the road of your life- can be alarming. It's shorter and rutted and slightly curving downhill, not so far and away anymore. Carpe diem as the wise ones say.
And though (in theory) we should all embrace each day as if it might, indeed, be our last, this effort gains a deeper poignancy at 54. My knuckles are so bumpy with arthritis now I can no longer wear my wedding ring. I twisted it off with pain and dish soap. I didn't want to have it sawed off. Just the thought of the saw buzz made me shiver with separation anxiety.
When I was lying on the gurney outside the operating room, awaiting hip surgery- after ten hours in the ER playing our Movie Game with said soul mate (to play the game you start with A and take turns naming a movie title until you run out of A's then you move on to the B's) the pony-tailed anesthesiologist told me to remove my wedding ring.
I can't, I said. It won't come off, don't worry.
It's hospital policy, she explained. To remove jewelry before surgery.
You'll need a saw, I said. She smiled. I'll get some surgical tape- we'll tape it, she whispered.
I tilted my face toward my husband. He stood there, stoic and brave, betrayed by a gleam of wetness obscuring his usual clear and steady blue gaze. We both knew the risks of breaking a hip, and undergoing emergency hip surgery. The odds aren't kind. But my age was in my favor. I was twenty years younger than the average woman who falls and breaks a hip. You're a spring chicken, the surgeon had said.
I love you, I told my husband. Tell the boys I love them. I felt the nurse tape my wedding ring. Ready? she asked.
Gluten Free Autumn Shepherd’s Pie Recipe
As diligently as I follow a gluten free diet (and I am diligent – I never, EVER knowingly and willingly cheat) sometimes it happens – I get glutenized!
Such was the case sometime Saturday. I woke up Sunday with my typical signs, a migraine headache and a mysterious, unrelenting itchiness.
Unfortunately, ingesting gluten does nothing to dampen my appetite. No matter how icky I feel, I still need to eat. And at that point I want “comfort food.”
For me, Shepherd’s Pie is pure comfort. My mother made it often when I was growing up, usually using leftovers. I loved it more than whatever the original dinner was.
So I scrounged around my kitchen to see what I could find to put together for a quick and effortless Shepherd’s Pie. I had half a rotisserie chicken in the fridge, a large sweet potato in my veggie bowl and in my pantry a can of gluten free vegetable soup. Using the soup made it super easy to put the pie together and in about 25 minutes, dinner was ready.
This is seriously one of the easiest gluten free recipes I have ever made. Perfect for a time when you feel like “cooked-all-day comfort food” but don’t have the time or energy to cook all day.
If you find yourself accidentally glutenized, you are not alone. Pop over to this blog post of Shirley’s and see how some of the top gluten free bloggers deal with the occasional gluten poisoning.
Shepherd’s Pie with Cauliflower Topping
A rich gravy with ground beef and vegetables updated with a topping of cauliflower puree. The ultimate comfort food for the busy holiday season!
- 2 tablespoons coconut or olive oil
- 2 tsp minced garlic cloves
- 2/3 cup diced onion
- 2/3 cup diced carrot
- 2/3 cup diced celery
- 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef, lamb or turkey
- 2 tbsp corn starch or arrowroot
- 1 14.5 oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 3/4 cups beef broth or stock
- 1/2 cup red wine (or grape juice mixed with 1/2 tbs cider vinegar)
- 1 gluten-free beef bouillon cube, optional
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 3 bay leaves, divided
- 1/2 cup frozen sweet peas, corn or mixture of both
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Garlic Mashed Cauliflower topping:
- 1 large head cauliflower
- 1 tbsp coconut or olive oil
- 2 tbsp dairy free mayonnaise, or dairy-free sour cream replacement
- 2 garlic cloves
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Paprika, for dusting
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic cloves, onions, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring frequently for 3-4 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add beef to skillet. Cook, breaking up the beef, until browned and cooked through. Drain off excess fat. Sprinkle corn starch over beef mixture and cook while stirring for about a minute.
To skillet add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, beef stock, wine or grape juice mixture, beef bouillon cube, Worcestershire sauce, dried thyme and two bay leaves. Bring this mixture to a boil then reduce heat to medium and bring the mixture to a rapid simmer. Cook for 25 to 35 minutes at medium heat, stirring every five minutes, until liquid is reduced to a thickened gravy. Remove from heat, and stir in peas. Discard bay leaves. Pour mixture into a 2-quart baking dish, cover, and refrigerate until ready to bake while making topping.
Clean cauliflower. Remove core and leaves and chop. Place cauliflower and garlic cloves into a steamer with water over medium-high to high heat. Cover pan. Steam cook cauliflower until tender. Using an immersion blender or food processor, make a smooth puree of the cauliflower, garlic, oil and mayonnaise. Season with salt then pepper to taste.
Scoop cauliflower puree onto meat mixture. Smooth. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake in a preheated 250 degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes until heated through and cauliflower is lightly golden.
To freeze: After adding topping, cover pan with a double layer of aluminum foil. Label and freeze. To serve: Thaw, bake at 350 degrees F for 30 to 40 minutes or until heated through.
- Place a large pan over a medium heat and add 2 tbsp of vegetable oil.
- Peel and chop your potatoes and boil in a large saucepan for 25-30 minutes until completely soft. Drain and return the cooked potatoes to the large saucepan and set aside.
- Add your diced carrot/swede and fry for 4-5 minutes until slightly softened.
- Add your beef mince and fry until nicely browned.
- Add in the flour and stir until it disappears.
- Add the thyme, tomato puree and crumble in a stock cube. Stir once again.
- Add in 500ml of boiling water and gravy browning, if using. Season with a generous pinch of salt and a small pinch of pepper.
- Allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the veg is nicely softened.
- Preheat your oven to 180C/200C (fan)
- Add 50g of your grated cheese, all the butter and 1 tbsp of dijon mustard to the cooked potatoes in the saucepan. Use a potato masher to mash the potatoes until perfectly smooth. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Once your pie filling it done, pour it into your roasting dish. Mine is 33x24cm. Pat it down into an even layer.
- Spoon your potato on top and smooth over. Using a fork, create a lined pattern on top. This helps crisp up the top!
- Sprinkle your remaining cheese on top.
- Place into the oven for 40 minutes or until the top is lovely, crisp and golden.
- Once cooked, sprinkle more thyme on top and a little flaky Maldon sea salt.
- Serve up with boiled veg, gravy and enjoy!
Nutritional info is estimated and not always accurate.
Any questions about the recipe? Please do let me know by following me on Instagram and leaving me a comment on a recent photo!
Don’t forget to pin this for later!
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Becky Excell Gluten-free recipe creator, photographer and author of 'How To Make Anything Gluten-free. Based in London/Essex, UK.