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Shepherds Pie

A long time ago when I’d just given birth to my second gremlin, I belonged to a moms group called MOPS. I met some amazing people there. One of them brought me a meal while I was recovering: Shepherd’s Pie. Let’s foreshadow this by saying I was raised on casseroles, prepared by a woman who couldn’t cook to save her soul. My first, significant fight with my husband when he was just a live-in boyfriend? I threw a casserole at him. Seriously.

I fastidiously spent the next fifteen years trying NOT to make them. Bad track record and all. But then that one appeared. And it was delicious. The gifted casserole was in a thick packaged au jus gravy with onions, garlic and peas mixed in with ground beef, and golden grated hash browns on top. So. Good. Like, write home to that very same woman who couldn’t cook much of anything.

Years went by and now my child-who-is-almost-a-grown-woman is allergic to everything. Our new diet has too be not just gluten free, but low-FODMAP *AND* Fructose Malabsorption friendly. Let’s not get into details here, but, can you say difficult to cook?

I’m reading and I’m researching and we all were missing our good old shepherd’s pie. Then I came up with this version of the recipe, which really does the job that we need food to do: satisfy your taste buds, fill you up, visually appeals, AND smells like heaven.

Without further ado, here’s my strange version of Shepherd’s Pie.

Turn oven to 350. Some ovens might require a hotter temp, but don't go over 425.



1 lb ground beef

2 cups home made broth (veggie, turkey or beef all work well.)

1/2 cup red wine

1 tsp thyme

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper (1/4 I you’re not a lover of the spice)

1 cup grated or sliced thin carrots (other veggies like green beans & mushrooms also delicious)

1/2 cup celery (up to a cup.)

2 tbsp corn starch


6-7 medium size russet potatoes

1 Tbsp ground horseradish

1/2 tsp salt

Up to 1 cup reserved potato water

1/4 cup soy-free margarine. We like Earth’s Balance.

Olive oil: about 1 tbsp


Wash and cut up your potatoes, skinned or not, your choice. Just trim off the ickies first if you’re not peeling them. Set a large pot of lightly salted water (about 1/3 full) to boil. Toss the potatoes in the pot. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until cooked through. Drain them, reserving a cup of the liquid for later use. Plop in 1/4 cup soy-free margarine. Set aside to cool.

In a separate skillet (10 - 12 inches) brown up your ground beef. When it’s almost all brown, throw in the veggies, seasonings and wine. Bring to a boil then add the broth. In a separate bowl pull off about 1/4 cup of the liquid and whisk in the corn starch, adding it back to the bubbling dish as you stir on your stove. Turn down to low, and simmer. Alternately if you find it's boiled down too much, just add water.

Start mashing up the taters, adding the horseradish, salt and just enough reserved water until it’s a nice thick yet creamy consistency. Set aside.

I always cook in an iron pan, so that makes the next step really easy. But if you don't, transfer your ground beef mixture once it's just thick enough that it almost looks like gravy to a 9 x 13 baking pan, glass is best if you're not using the iron pan.

Now smear your new best friends, the mashed taters over the top of the ground beef mixture. Spritz with olive oil, and put in the oven. Bake for about twenty minutes, until gold brown in spots on top.

Notes: Veggies are a touchy subject at my house. So many opinions! Because I trust your taste: you can swap out the shredded carrots for peas or green beans or mushrooms or add more of one and less of another. This is an equal opportunity veggie recipe. It will taste good no matter what you choose.

Updating this to talk about peppers and barbecues. My kid had a wild hair the other day: "Mom, I want barbecued peppers." Fair enough, not hard to deliver. Then she added: "No wait, I want Shepherds Pie." Well, hm. Interesting. Instead of arguing or trying to make sense of her teenager urges I took it as a challenge, thus the picture up above. I prepared the peppers as you would for a stuffed pepper recipe, except I didn't pre-cook them before stuffing. I parchment paper lined some foil and wrapped the peppers up, then through them on the grill. Results? Oddly the process made my Shepherds Pie even better!

Second Update: I have a few friends who are amazing cooks, familiar with vegan cooking as well as allergy friendly food. I've asked one of them to try and make this one vegan. Details to follow soon :-).

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