Shepherd’s Pie with Cauliflower Mash

Yet another recipe I found in another one of my online food magazines – the picture really looked yummy, and… who doesn’t like Shepherd’s Pie?! Or Cottage Pie, for that matter – but being the adventurous sorts of folk that we are, we decided to give it a try. The recipe sounded easy enough… and I have to admit that the cauliflower mash sounded a little bit “doubtful”, it also seemed to have a hell of a lot of olive oil in it, but we’ve learned that… to all intents and purposes, recipes are really only a type of “guide line“, and like all good cooks, we’ve learned to “adapt” a little as we go along. We ended up only using about half of the olive oil that the recipe specified- and I’m tempted to think that – perhaps we could have got away with using even less again! – the cauliflower mash could have been just a wee bit “firmer”… However, it was delicious – full-on and rich, and very, very tasty! What’s more, it was all made with fresh ingredients, there was very little in the way of preservatives and other additives… and it made enough for two meals, which is always an added bonus! So we’ve called it a “Keeper”, and it too with be enshrined in “Winter’s Family Cookbook”, and I intend to make sure that we’ll be having it again soon! And now – here it is, as promised, for your enjoyment! 🙂

You will need:

  • 1 large head of cauliflower florets, chopped
  • 4 Tablespoons of olive oil (or coconut oil)
  • 1 tsp of ground cumin
  • 1 brown onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, diced
  • 2 celery sticks, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 600 g of lamb mince
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1 tsp of thyme leaves, chopped
  • 80 ml of dry red wine
  • 375 ml of beef or chicken stock
  • 3 Tablespoons of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

And this is what you do:

  1.  Pre-heat the oven to 180° C
  2.  Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, then add the cauliflower and cook for about 10 minutes, or until tender. Drain the cooked cauliflower in a colander, and set it aside.
  3.  Heat two Tablespoons of the olive oil in a large frying pan or saucepan over a medium to high heat. Add the cumin, onions, garlic,celery and carrots, and cook for five minutes, or until they soften and begin to brown.
  4.  Add the lamb mince and cook until browned. Add the tomato paste and thyme, and cook for one minute, then pour in the wine and the stock and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper. Taste test, and add more seasoning if needed.
  5.  Meanwhile, place the cooked cauliflower in a food processor, and blend until smooth. Blend two Tablespoons of oil through the purée, and season to taste with salt and white pepper¹ (we only used 1 Tablespoon of oil, but you really should  be able to judge how much you need for yourselves – don’t forget that some cauliflowers are bigger than others, and may need a little more, or a little less, oil!)
  6.  To assemble, spread the meat mixture into the base of a reasonably large ovenproof dish. Top with the cauliflower purée and smooth the top out evenly. Bake the pie in the oven for 30 minutes, or until lightly golden. Remove from oven, and sprinkle with the parsley.

To serve:

Serve with a fresh, seasonal salad of your choice, or with traditional cooked vegetables, such as peas, beans, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, or whatever you like! 🙂


¹season to taste with salt and white pepper – it doesn’t taste any different, it’s just that most good cooks use white pepper when adding it to something white (or at least pale!) because it prevents the appearance of little black specks through your lovely white (or pale!) “mash”