Monday, 16 September 2013

Cottage Pie..

I've no idea if it's Shepherd's Pie or Cottage Pie if it's made with beef... No doubt a quick Google will tell me, but I'm too lazy to look right now!

The weather has changed a lot in the past week or so, and since I'm ridiculously cold blooded and felt the sudden onset of hypothermia (I'm not exaggerating even a little!), it was definitely a night for a warming, comforting dinner. There are few comforting 'Mammy Dinners' that taste as good as Shepherd's Pie, so it didn't take long to decide that's exactly what I needed.

Yes, I'm aware that it's ridiculously pedantic of me to have Googled it, but I had to know... turns out I had Cottage Pie for dinner... Shepherd's Pie is basically the same thing, but made with minced lamb... sounds good too, so I may have to make it soon..

A lot of Paleo-ized Shepherd's Cottage Pie recipes call for a topping of sweet potato instead of the standard mashed potato topping... You might be wondering why white potatoes aren't considered Paleo, and sweet potatoes are.. A few main things on this (I won't ramble for too long, I promise!)....

  • Potatoes weren't eaten by our Paleolithic ancestors....for me, this isn't a reason not to eat them. I'm not all about sticking religiously to the 'Paleo' label. I'm not trying to minic the life of a cavewoman... I'm pretty sure they didn't blog and tweet for a start... 
  • Potatoes are a nightshade, so those with an autoimmune disorder may want to consider excluding them from their diet. 

The last point is where I sit up and take notice. Since nightshades have been shown to contain inflammation inducing alkaloids, I decided to exclude them for 3 months and then make a decision on whether or not I felt my health had improved during this time. Whilst potatoes weren't really on my shopping list before, I loved tomatoes and capsicums so this would be a challenge. It would be worth it if it helped in slowing the progression of my MS. I reintroduced nightshades slowly into my diet after the 3 months, and didn't see any ill effects so for me, they're fine to eat. You need to listen to your body and make a choice based on your own reaction to different foods.

My reason for avoiding potatoes is solely because they're so starchy, and I'm simply not really a fan of how bloated I feel after eating them. It's a taste preference more than a Paleo stance... 

Ok I'm sorry... I did ramble a bit, but in fairness I do that in real life too! 

Back to dinner.. 

Whilst I love sweet potatoes, I felt that they have far too distinctive a flavour to be a suitable topping for Cottage Pie. I prefer to let the meat filling take over the flavour department, so chose a lightly seasoned, garlic vegetable mash to top the pie. 


  • 1/2 head of cauliflower
  • 1/2 turnip
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • salt, pepper and mixed herbs to taste

Steam vegetables until just cooked. 
Pulse in food processor until smooth and creamy. 
Season to taste. 

Meat filling

  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1lb round steak mince
  • 2 carrots
  • 50g celery stalks, chopped
  • 1/2 head brocolli
  • 50g oyster mushrooms
  • 50g frozen peas
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 green bell pepper
  • 1 small can organic tomato paste 
  • 200ml homemade vegetable stock (if you don't have homemade stock, add little boiling water and some extra seasoning before you throw in a stock cube)
  • seasonings of your choice
Start by adding onions and garlic to preheated pan with 1/2 tsp of coconut oil (or butter if you're ok with dairy). 
Add mince to saucepan and cook until browned. 
Next add remaining ingredients, cover the saucepan and leave to simmer for 20 minutes over a low heat. This will allow the sauce to reduce and thicken, the flavours to develop, and the vegetables to cook. 

To make your Cottage Pie:

Place meat filling in base of oven proof casserole/pie dish. 
Top with a generous layer of your vegetable mash and swirl with a fork to even the topping out. 

If you're ok with nuts, sprinkle with a handful of flaked almonds. This gives a little extra flavour, and a really nice crunchy topping. The nuts will toast in the oven, and turn a rich golden brown which looks great....We start by eating with our eyes right? 

If you're ok with dairy, top with grated cheese instead. I tend not to buy grated cheese, cos I will honestly eat it all...

Place in preheated oven for 20 minutes until piping hot, golden brown and your kitchen smells fabulous... This is without a doubt, my go-to comfort food dinner. It's not pretty, but it tastes so good! 

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