Baby, it's cold outside — even in Austin. The chill has had me craving a big bowl of something warm, comforting and soul-satisfying. One of the things about giving up gluten is that you end up craving those warm, squishy, bready things as comfort food. I've been working on finding dishes that are just as satisfying, but without the gluten. This is one of them.
This is a shepherd's pie made with ground lamb for flavor mixed with ground bison to make it healthier. (Did you know grass-fed bison has more omega-3s than salmon? Find out more.) Mix in plenty of whatever vegetables and herbs you like and top it with mashed potatoes. A small serving of this is quite filling so it's great for feeding a crowd and it's something the whole family will enjoy and be comforted by.
I've made this several times in the last few weeks and every time my husband says, "I could eat this every night" (and then he does). It keeps well in the fridge for leftovers or you can also freeze it for later. (This would be a great thing to make in a loaf pan and freeze to give to someone in need of some homemade love.)
This recipe is one of those that's really just a guideline. If you don't like lamb, use beef. You could add red wine or more or less broth, depending on how soupy you want it. You could make an all veggie version. You could put in whatever veggies and herbs you like. (I love the rosemary with lamb.) And you could also add some cheese to the mashed taters for another layer of gooey goodness. Run wild. Make it your own. You can't go wrong. And it'll make you feel cozier just knowing it's there in the fridge, waiting for you.
Recipe note: I used a lot of rosemary. We have a giant rosemary bush in our garden. It's the kind that grows up more than creeping horizontally. It takes up less garden real estate that way. But it seems to be a bit milder in flavor than other varieties, so I use more of it. If you're using rosemary, taste it first and decide how much you want. Also, I went with a non-dairy version here to lighten it up, but you can make your mashed potatoes however you like — use broth, sour cream, butter, whatever.
Shepherd's Pie with Lamb & Bison
1 1/2 to 2 pounds potatoes, chopped (I buy organic and leave the skins on)
1/2 cup butter or nondairy butter substitute or chicken broth or 1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 pound ground lamb
1 pound ground bison
4 5-inch stalks fresh rosemary, leaves stripped from stems and chopped
1 to 2 teaspoons hot, smoked paprika
1 1/2 cups carrots, chopped
1 1/2 cups zucchini, chopped
1 cup frozen peas (you don't even need to defrost them)
1 orange or red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 to 1 cup beef broth (Pacific makes an organic, low-salt, gluten-free one I like)
2 tablespoons corn starch
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Have a casserole dish handy. I'm not going to tell you exactly what size, because it depends on how you like your shepherds pie. You can make it in a wider, lasagna-style pan, if you want thinner layers of filling and potatoes. Or you can make it in a smaller, deeper pan, if like us, you want thick layers. We have a very old oven-proof stoneware pan that my husband says his grandmother used to use to make banana pudding. What could be better than that?
Start with your potatoes. Fill a large pan with water and bring to a boil. Add your potatoes and bring back up to a boil. Then, lower heat to medium or medium-low (so your pan doesn't boil over) and cook until fork tender. (This will take about as long as it takes you to prep the rest of the meat and veggies.)
In a large skillet, sauté the onion in olive oil over medium heat for several minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and meat. Increase the heat a bit and let the meat brown all over. The bison is going to be very lean. But if your lamb gives you more fat than you want in the pan, you can spoon some out at this point.
Add your vegetables and rosemary and let cook until veggies are just tender, but not too soft. It's better if they still have a little snap. This is going to go in the oven and cook a little more, so keep them a bit undercooked.
When the potatoes are tender, drain them and mash them with a potato masher or even a stick blender, if you want them really fluffy. Add the butter or whatever you using to make your mashed taters. Combine well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Place your hot meat and veggie filling into your casserole pan. Then top with mashed potatoes. Use a spatula or spoon to spread it out evenly over the top. Bake in oven for 20-30 minutes until completely heated through.