Root Vegetable Shepherd's Pie (AIP, vegan optional, paleo, gluten free)
We've been having a cold snap in Denver this week (snow in May????) so I've gone back to making some warming food for dinner. I've been making a version of shepherd's pie with sweet potato for a few years but I normally use orange sweet potatoes (labeled yams in the grocery store even though they aren't real yams) with cinnamon, cumin and nutmeg. It's a little bit middle eastern in flavor and delicious. This time I wanted to make a more traditional shepherd's pie with white sweet potato instead. White sweet potato has a much milder taste than yams and can almost pass for a regular white potato. This shepherd's pie can easily be made vegan by omitting the ground beef and it will be just as filling and hearty!
Root Vegetable Shepherd's Pie
1 lb of ground beef or lamb (vegans, omit the meat and add an extra cup of mushrooms or root veggies)
3 medium white sweet potatoes, baked at 400 degrees for 1 hour. Remove the skins when the sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle.
1 turnip, peeled and chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 large onion, diced
1 cup of mushrooms, chopped
1 small red cabbage or 1/4 - 1/2 of a large red cabbage, chopped or shredded (about 2 cups)
2 Tbs of fresh thyme, removed from stem (sub 2 tsp of dried thyme)
1/4 cup of organic, gluten free Worcestershire sauce, AIP substitute Red Boat Fish Sauce to taste
2 cups of full fat coconut milk
1 cup of vegetable or beef stock
1/2 cup + 2 Tbs of ghee, grassfed butter or coconut oil
1 Tbs of arrowroot starch or corn starch
sea salt and pepper to taste
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the warm sweet potatoes, 1 cup of coconut milk and 1/4 cup of ghee, butter or coconut oil and mash with a fork until fairly smooth. This is a rustic dish so there is no need to be perfect! Also, please don't use a blender unless you want really gummy sweet potatoes. Add sea salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Heat a large cast iron pan over medium heat. Add 1 Tbs of ghee, butter or coconut oil to the pan and melt. Add the ground beef or lamb and cook until browned. Add 2 Tbs of Worcestershire sauce or fish sauce (to taste) and a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper. Remove the meat from the pan with a slotted spoon. Add another Tbs of ghee or oil to the pan along with the onion, carrots and garlic, stirring to prevent the garlic from burning. Sauté for 5 minutes until the onion is translucent. Add the fresh thyme, turnip and mushrooms and continue to sauté until the carrot is just softened. This will take about 10 minutes. Add the cabbage, the remaining 2 Tbs of Worcestershire sauce (or fish sauce to taste) and the stock to to the pan.
In a small dish, combine the arrowroot or corn starch with 1/4 cup of the coconut milk. Wisk until the mixture if fully combined. Pour the arrowroot mixture along with the remaining 3/4 cup of coconut milk into the pan and cook until the sauce is bubbling and starting to thicken. Add the ground beef or lamb back into the pan and stir to combine. Adjust the seasoning if necessary. Turn off the heat.
With a spatula or large wooden spoon, spread the white sweet potato mixture over the top of the filling. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of ghee, butter or coconut oil to the top of the shepherd's pie in little dollops. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until the crust is golden and the root vegetables are soft.