How to Make Paleo Shepherd’s Pie

This post is from NF Rebel Chef Noel

Fellow adventurer, it has been a long day of travel and your party is hungry.

They’re counting on you to feed them a warm, hearty meal that will replenish their life bars and energize them for upcoming challenges on your shared, mighty quest.

Should you choose to take this challenge, you will gain new skills (+3 to wisdom), and the mouths you nourish will gain you their respect and love (+2 charisma).

Now, I must warn you, this recipe is more complex than the others we’ve conquered. If the Easiest Chicken Ever was a level 1, and Paleo Spaghetti was level 2, this shepherd’s pie is a level 3.

Do you accept this challenge?
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If so, read on, brave warrior.

Here’s what you’ll need.

Paleo Shepherd’s Pie Ingredients

You’ll notice, this recipe makes a whopping 5 lbs of food. Yes, 5 lbs. If that’s too much for you, feel free to cut the recipe in half!

Also, feel free to skip this section and head to the end of the article for a printable list of ingredients!

For the sweet potato topping, you’ll need:

4 large sweet potatoes – This totals 3-4 lbs of potato. Don’t be shy now.

2 tbsp coconut milk – (optional) I usually use coconut milk from the can. And I use it in a lot of different things, like my morning coffee. But if you have an allergy to coconut or you don’t want to spring 2 bucks for a can that you’ll only use a bit of, that’s totally fine. Other non-dairy milks will probably work here too, though I make no guarantees as I haven’t tried them. Just make sure whatever you’re using isn’t sweetened.

A few shakes of paprika and cinnamon – (also optional) I’m not gonna lie, I put cinnamon in almost everything these days, so it might be a weird suggestion…but no one I’ve fed this to has complained yet. Also, paprika is a new thing that I love on sweet potatoes ever since I started making Staci’s Bacon & Sweet Potato Hash. It’s one of my all time favorite sweet potato recipes. Do yourself a favor and try it!

Salt and pepper – To taste.

For the filling, you’ll need: 

2 tbsp butter (or 2 tbsp olive oil) – For sautéing veggies!

3 carrots – More orange vegetables. Yes.

4 cloves of garlic, peeled – Remember the difference between cloves and bulbs? Cloves are the little guys inside the bulbs. To peel, smash the clove under the flat side of a knife and easily pull away the paper-like wrapping.

1 yellow onion – You could use a white or red onion, I suppose.

1 8.5 oz package of white button mushrooms – Pretty much all the packages of mushrooms at the store are 8.5 oz. To save time, you could buy the pre-sliced ones!

2 lbs grass fed ground beef – if you can’t find grass fed, it’s cool to use regular. I won’t judge.

2 tbsp tomato paste – You can use more or less if you prefer. You don’t want your meat too spaghetti saucey, but the tomato will add delicious flavor to the meat.

2 tsp thyme – (dried)
2 tsp oregano – (dried)
2 tsp basil – (dried)

*Fresh herbs?! Ain’t nobody got thyme for that! (Hoho! See what I did there?) I know I’ve advocated for fresh herbs before, and if you want to do that, you have my blessing. It will probably make this recipe taste even more amazing, but if you want to go with what you have in your cabinet, I promise this will be delicious.

Salt and Pepper – To taste (again).

Equipment:

Cutting board
Knife
Mixing bowl
Frying pan
Spatula/something to mix your ingredients with
Soup pot (or microwave if you don’t have a soup pot to cook your sweet potatoes)
Fork – for mashing sweet potatoes
Cake pan
Potato peeler (or knife)

All set? Alright, let’s do this!

Instructions

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat up your frying pan on low. You don’t want it getting too hot while you chop your veggies. You’ll see why at step 5.

2. Fill your soup pot with water, turn on the heat and begin to bring it to a boil.

3. Chop your veggies. This includes carrots, mushrooms, and your onion. Mushroom and carrot slicing is pretty easy and self explanatory (extra points for each carrot slice that looks like a pac man).

Noel: Mushrooms

Noel: Carrots

Onion dicing on the other hand…

Here’s a trick to dice your onions quickly:

  • First, peel the onion
  • Second, chop the top off. This is what the top looks like:

Noel: Onion Peeling

  • Set the onion with its bottom on the cutting board and make several vertical slices across the face of the onion. DO NOT cut all the way through the bottom of the onion. Leave a little bit of uncut onion (about 1/4 inch) uncut. This way, the onion stays together.
  • Then, rotate the onion 90 degrees and make more vertical cuts. Essentially, what you are doing is making a grid pattern in the onion.  Your onion will look like it is diced, but it will still all be attached to the bottom. Now you are ready to dice it!

Noel: Onion cut 1

  • Lay the onion on its side and slice it. Now you don’t have to cut each slice of your onion to dice it because you cut it into tiny cubes BEFORE you slice! Genius!

Noel: Onion Cut 02

4. Mince your garlic. Mince just means “cut it into tiny pieces.”

5. Melt 2 tbsp butter in the pan. Make sure it’s just melting and not burning. Burnt butter will look very brown and will sizzle and pop a lot. If you use burnt butter in your cooking, it will change the flavor of your dish, so be careful that you don’t heat your pan too much before putting the butter in it. If your pan is heated too much, just take it off the heat for a little while.

Noel: Melted Butter

6. Once your butter is melted, toss in your onions and garlic. Mix it up and get the onions and garlic coated with butter. Oh yeah. That’s the good stuff. Season with salt and pepper.

Noel: Onion and Garlic

7. Cook the onions and garlic until they become somewhat translucent. This will take about 3-5 minutes. Stir them frequently so that they do not burn. This is what they will look like when you’re ready to move on to the next step.

Noel: Cooked Onion

8. Add your carrots and mushrooms to the pan. Mix those babies in.

Noel: Pan of veggies

These will need to cook another 5-7 minutes until they get soft. They should look like this when they’re ready:

Noel: Cooked veggies

9. At this point, we’re going to add the meat. We’re adding 2 lbs of ground beef to our veggies, and that is a LOT to have in one pan, so I separated out about half of the veggies and put them in a bowl to the side. 

We’ll cook the other pound of ground beef with the other veggies once the first batch is done. If your pan isn’t big enough, it’s okay to cook this in two separate batches, even if your first batch gets cold while the second is cooking. We’re going to put all our stuff in a pan and bake it after we finish cooking it here, so it’s okay if it cools off a bit. Once you’ve separated half the veggies, add the meat. Break up that lumping lump of meat and mix it in with the veggies like so:

Noel: Raw Meat

10. Once your meat has started browning, stir in the 1 tbsp of tomato paste per pound of meat that you’re cooking. Also stir in 1 tsp of each of the dried herbs per pound of meat.

Noel: Cooked Meat

11. Once you finish one batch of meat and veggies, pour that into your cake pan. Then cook the next batch in the same way. Pour both batches into the pan and flatten the top. It should look something like this:

Noel: Pan

12. Now we are going to make the mashed sweet potatoes. Hopefully your pot of water is close to boiling by now.

*Note: If you don’t have a large pot in which to boil potatoes or you don’t want to wait for the water to boil, you can cook the potatoes in the microwave. My microwave has a potato button. Poke holes in the potatoes with a fork or knife and then put them in your microwave. Wait for them to cool off before you pull them out of the microwave because those babies are HOT. Once they’ve cooled off a little, cut them in half, scoop the insides into your bowl, and move on to step 17! Congratulations, you’ve found a warp tube!

13. First, peel your potatoes. Hopefully you have a potato peeler. If not, you can carefully cut the peels off with a knife.

Noel: Peeled Potatoes

14. Dice your sweet potatoes into cubes. To do this, I usually cut them in half “hamburger style” then I cut them “hot dog style”. If you don’t know what I mean by hamburger and hot dog style, just ignore me. I’m obviously crazy. 

Noel: Cut Sweet Potatoes

15. Toss all those sweety sweet potatoes into your pot of hot water. Bring it to a boil again for about 15 minutes. Test the potatoes to feel if they are soft enough to mash. To do this, grab one out with a fork and try to smash it. If it smashes, you’re ready to move on! If it’s still hard, leave it in for a few more minutes.

Noel: Potatoes in water

16. When your potatoes are nice and soft and ready to mash, drain the water. If you are draining with a lid, be careful not to leave too big of a gap between the pot and lid or you will lose some of your delicious potatoes. Sadness. Colanders make things way easier…

Noel: Colander Potatoes

17. Once your potatoes are drained, pour them into a large mixing bowl and start mashin’ those babies. I used a fork, and it worked just fine.

Noel: Mashed Potatoes

18. Once those ‘taters are nice and smashed, it’s time to add your coconut milk and spices! Yum!

Noel: Potatoes and coconut

19. Now that your spices and coconut milk are mixed into the sweet potatoes, pour the potatoes over the meat mixture in your cake pan. Smooth out the top with a spoon or spatula so that the potatoes evenly cover the meat.

Pop that sucker in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes, and you’re ready to have a deliciously awesome meal!

Noel: Shepherd's Pie

Congratulations adventurer. You have learned the art of the casserole. You have now added one more dish to your repertoire of tasty meals and in doing so, leveled up your cooking!

Serve this alone, or with a pile of steamed veggies or a tossed salad, and your party will be satisfied and happy.

Noel: Shepherds Pie Plated

Meal prep mastery!

Slice of life: Road Fun

Casserole-type dishes are a great way to cook a bunch of food at once. You can share your meal with others or save yourself a lot of cooking time during the week by cooking one thing (this thing!) and eating it for a few days.

This only takes about 45 minutes in total from start to finish, it’s super easy to assemble, and you can kick back and relax while you’re waiting for it to cook in the oven. And remember, you can always cut the recipe in half if you need less food.

Go forth and enjoy your meal, fellow Rebels! And be proud that you made such a big, delicious dish! You rock!

What sorts of things do you like to cook for the week? 

Do you have any favorite casserole dishes that you make for friends? 

Share them with us in the comments!

-Noel

###

Photos by: Marco Hazard, Road Fun

Paleo Shepherd's Pie
Author: 
Recipe type: Lunch/Dinner
Serves: 4-6
 
A massive, hearty meal of ground beef and veggies, topped with mashed sweet potatoes. (As written, this recipe makes 5lbs of food! Cut in half if you don't need that much food.)
Ingredients
  • 4 large sweet potatoes - This totals 3-4 lbs of potato. Don’t be shy now.
  • 2 tbsp coconut milk - (optional) I usually use coconut milk from the can. And I use it in a lot of different things, like my morning coffee. But if you have an allergy to coconut or you don’t want to spring 2 bucks for a can that you’ll only use a bit of, that's totally fine. Other non-dairy milks will probably work here too, though I make no guarantees as I haven’t tried them. Just make sure whatever you’re using isn’t sweetened.
  • A few shakes of paprika and cinnamon - (also optional) I’m not gonna lie, I put cinnamon in almost everything these days, so it might be a weird suggestion...but no one I’ve fed this to has complained yet. Also, paprika is a new thing that I love on sweet potatoes ever since I started making Staci’s Bacon & Sweet Potato Hash. It’s one of my all time favorite sweet potato recipes. Do yourself a favor and try it!
  • Salt and pepper - To taste.
  • For the filling, you'll need:
  • 2 Tbsp butter (or 2 Tbsp olive oil) - For sautéing veggies!
  • 3 carrots - More orange vegetables. Yes.
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled - Remember the difference between cloves and bulbs? Cloves are the little guys inside the bulbs. To peel, smash the clove under the flat side of a knife and easily pull away the paper-like wrapping.
  • 1 yellow onion - You could use a white or red onion, I suppose.
  • 1 8.5 oz package of white button mushrooms - Pretty much all the packages of mushrooms at the store are 8.5 oz. To save time, you could buy the pre-sliced ones!
  • 2 lbs grass fed ground beef - if you can’t find grass fed, it’s cool to use regular. I won’t judge.
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste - You can use more or less if you prefer. You don’t want your meat too spaghetti saucey, but the tomato will add delicious flavor to the meat.
  • 2 tsp thyme - (dried)
  • 2 tsp oregano - (dried)
  • 2 tsp basil - (dried)
  • Salt and Pepper - To taste (again).
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat up your frying pan on low. You don’t want it getting too hot while you chop your veggies. You’ll see why at step 5.
  2. Fill your soup pot with water, turn on the heat and begin to bring it to a boil.
  3. Chop your veggies. This includes carrots, mushrooms, and your onion.
  4. Mince your garlic. Mince just means cut it into tiny pieces.
  5. Melt 2 tbsp butter in the pan. Make sure it’s just melting and not burning. Burnt butter will look very brown and will sizzle and pop a lot. If you use burnt butter in your cooking, it will change the flavor of your dish, so be careful that you don’t heat your pan too much before putting the butter in it. If your pan is heated too much, just take it off the heat for a little while.
  6. Once your butter is melted, toss in your onions and garlic. Mix it up and get the onions and garlic coated with butter. Oh yeah. That’s the good stuff. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Cook the onions and garlic until they become somewhat translucent. This will take about 3-5 minutes. Stir them frequently so that they do not burn. This is what they will look like when you’re ready to move on to the next step.
  8. Add your carrots and mushrooms to the pan. Mix those babies in.
  9. These will need to cook another 5-7 minutes until they get soft. They should look like this when they’re ready:
  10. At this point, we’re going to add the meat. We’re adding 2 lbs of ground beef to our veggies, and that is a LOT to have in one pan, so I separated out about half of the veggies and put them in a bowl to the side.
  11. We’ll cook the other pound of ground beef with the other veggies once the first batch is done. If your pan isn't big enough, it's okay to cook this in two separate batches, even if your first batch gets cold while the second is cooking. We’re going to put all our stuff in a pan and bake it after we finish cooking it here, so it’s okay if it cools off a bit. Once you’ve separated half the veggies, add the meat. Break up that lumping lump of meat and mix it in with the veggies like so:
  12. Once your meat has started browning, stir in the 1 tbsp of tomato paste per pound of meat that you’re cooking. Also stir in 1 tsp of each of the dried herbs per pound of meat.
  13. Once you finish one batch of meat and veggies, pour that into your cake pan. Then cook the next batch in the same way. Pour both batches into the pan and flatten the top. It should look something like this:
  14. Now we are going to make the mashed sweet potatoes. Hopefully your pot of water is close to boiling by now.
  15. *Note: If you don’t have a large pot in which to boil potatoes or you don’t want to wait for the water to boil, you can cook the potatoes in the microwave. My microwave has a potato button. Poke holes in the potatoes with a fork or knife and then put them in your microwave. Wait for them to cool off before you pull them out of the microwave because those babies are HOT. Once they’ve cooled off a little, cut them in half, scoop the insides into your bowl, and move on to step 17! Congratulations, you've found a warp tube!
  16. First, peel your potatoes. Hopefully you have a potato peeler. If not, you can carefully cut the peels off with a knife.
  17. Dice your sweet potatoes into cubes. To do this, I usually cut them in half “hamburger style” then I cut them “hot dog style”. If you don’t know what I mean by hamburger and hot dog style, just ignore me. I’m obviously crazy.
  18. Toss all those sweety sweet potatoes into your pot of hot water. Bring it to a boil again for about 15 minutes. Test the potatoes to feel if they are soft enough to mash. To do this, grab one out with a fork and try to smash it. If it smashes, you’re ready to move on! If it’s still hard, leave it in for a few more minutes.
  19. When your potatoes are nice and soft and ready to mash, drain the water. If you are draining with a lid, be careful not to leave too big of a gap between the pot and lid or you will lose some of your delicious potatoes. Sadness. Colanders make things way easier...
  20. Once your potatoes are drained, pour them into a large mixing bowl and get to work mashin’ those babies. I used a fork, and it worked just fine.
  21. Once those ‘taters are nice and smashed, it’s time to add your coconut milk and spices! Yum!
  22. Now that your spices and coconut milk are mixed into the sweet potatoes, pour the potatoes over the meat mixture in your cake pan. Smooth out the top with a spoon or spatula so that the potatoes evenly cover the meat.
  23. Pop that sucker in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes, and you’re ready to have a deliciously awesome meal!
Notes
Shopping List:

4 large sweet potatoes
1 can coconut milk
Butter or olive oil
3 carrots
Garlic
1 yellow onion
1 8.5 oz package of white button mushrooms
2 lbs grass fed ground beef - Regular beef is okay too 🙂
1 can tomato paste 
thyme - dried or fresh
oregano - dried or fresh
basil - dried or fresh
paprika
cinnamon
salt
pepper

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