I modify and mess with recipes all the time, so that I can make them healthier, more appealing to me, and to use ingredients I have on hand. I recently made some Shepherd’s Pie, but I may have strayed too far in my quest to make it guilt-free. I don’t know if I can still call this Shepherd’s Pie or not. What do you think?
Shepherd’s Pie is a traditional English dish. It’s a casserole, made from ground beef or lamb, mixed with vegetables and gravy, and then covered in a layer of mashed potatoes and baked.
It was the day before I went grocery shopping when I made my version, and, as a result, I had very little fresh ingredients. So this version is made from frozen foods and pantry items.
The first swap I made was with the protein. Instead of ground beef or lamb, I used… ground rabbit. Yup, rabbit!
I had purchased this at the farmer’s market a while back, and it was waiting for me in my freezer. The vendor at the market recommended I use it to make tacos, and that’s what I was going to do, until I had the shepherd’s pie idea.
The second big change was that my mashed potato layer was going to contain no potatoes at all. Instead… mashed cauliflower!
Here’s how it all came together.
I heated 1 tablespoon olive oil in a big skillet.
I added one 10-ounce bag of chopped onion, carrot, and celery – the frozen Mirepoix mix from Cascadian Farm.
One that softened a little, I added 1 pound ground rabbit (which I had previously thawed), and browned it until I no longer saw any pink. (I’m sure rabbit may not be readily available in your neck of the woods, so feel free to use beef, lamb, or pork.)
In a separate skillet, I cooked one 12-ounce bag of frozen mashed cauliflower with garlic, from Sprouts.
I love this, and always try to have a bag or two on hand. It’s super easy and takes 6 minutes from start to finish.
I wanted to create a little gravy, so I added some stock. I only keep low-sodium vegetable stock on hand, which is good, because I didn’t want beef or chicken stock to mask the flavor of the rabbit. But I was out of stock on stock (get it?), so I added about 1/2 cup of vegetable broth to the meat and veggies mixture from this can of low-sodium vegetable soup.
(The rest of the soup went into the fridge for another meal, and yes, it tasted fine with 1/2 cup less broth.)
To make the casserole, I pulled out a loaf pan, and put the rabbit and veggies mixture in first. Then I layered the mashed cauliflower on top, and finished it off with about 1/2 cup of shredded Monterey jack cheese.
It went into the oven for 30 minutes at 400 degrees. The cheese got all melty and brown on top!
(This, by the way, wasn’t a big casserole. It serves two. You can double or triple the ingredients to feed a bigger crowd.)
It was delicious! Next time I probably would have doubled the amount of mashed cauliflower I used, because that was my favorite part. And I would’ve added a little less of the broth, or maybe mixed a couple tablespoons of flour into the meat mixture, to thicken it up, because it was a little runny.
I liked the rabbit. It smelled very gamey when I was cooking it, but in the finished dish, it was mild and hearty. All in all this dish was warm, comforting, and satisfying – and every ingredient is good for you!
But is it still Shepherd’s Pie? Who cares!
Keep it up, David!
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