Easy Allergen Friendly Cottage Pie
As a kid we had Cottage pie for dinner at least once a month. We loved it!!! Mashed potatoes and ground beef. Almost as good as hamburger and fries (same ingredients, right??). But unfortunately due to my food sensitivities and our grandson’s food allergies, I’m constantly trying to figure out new ways. This recipe is really simple, and can be prepared the day before and baked right before dinner time. The best part of it, is that my little grandson (the rest of the kids too 😉 )loves this meal. Absolutely a good motivator for this grandma to keep creating new recipes. This recipe has no gluten, dairy or eggs in it. Definitely a keeper, an easy allergen friendly cottage pie or sometimes referred as, Shepherd’s Pie.
Shepherd’s Pie Vs. Cottage Pie
My mom used to always use, milk, egg and cheese. I’ve also seen friends use bread crumbs. My experience with the meat used in this dish, has been either beef or pork. There are really countless ways of making this meat and potato casserole. What I never realized though is, why this dish is known as Shepherd’s pie. So I looked into the matter, and discovered one major reason. Back in the early 1800’s Cottage pie was a common food among the Irish and English poor villagers. Potato was cheap and they would use leftover roast to mince or grind up to complete the meal. I didn’t realize, that the name Shepherd’s pie only was introduced after people started using lamb meat. Basically, if beef is used, it’s Cottage pie, while lamb meat with mashed potatoes is Shepherd’s pie. Either way, different countries and cultures have adapted this recipe according to their liking and by groceries at hand.
Choice of Meat or Vegan
The authentic Irish recipe may require beef or lamb, but don’t let that stop you, if you can’t eat neither one. For a long period of time, due to health reasons with one of our kids, we couldn’t eat beef or pork. Lamb is not our favorite, so that pretty much left us with either chicken or turkey. Initially it was really hard to eat a good hamburger with ground turkey. But we all got used to it, and I was able to substitute the beef with turkey or chicken with all of our favorite recipes. Likewise this recipe can be made with an alternative. I would think that one can also easily convert this dish to a vegan meal as well, by replacing the meat with some chopped veggies (maybe even some homegrown garden selection ;-)) like, broccoli, carrots, zucchini, and mushrooms. That actually sounds really good 🙂 !!!
When I tried to figure out how to make this Cottage pie work for our family, I wondered how using coconut milk would alter the flavor. To my delight, it did not change much, if any. On the contrary, I feel that it’s much better and my married kids who grew up with the more traditional one, really liked this one. In this recipe I use a canned coconut milk. The reason behind this, is the extra cream, which does not exist with the refrigerator kind. Of course, you can always substitute with regular unsweetened fresh coconut milk, if you prefer that. I always strive to use natural products, and I know there are few brands of canned coconut milk that are really clean. Unfortunately, there are equally many brands that have all kinds of additives in them. As you make your choices, just be mindful of that. I like my Cottage pie more on the creamier side and real light and fluffy. You can cut back the milk slightly if you prefer a stiffer pie, especially if you use the fresh milk, rather than canned.
Maria’s Easy Allergen Friendly Cottage Pie
Yield: 4 Servings Prep Time: 10 min Cook Time: 1 Hour
1 lbs Ground Beef (Side note: If you use real lean beef (93%), you will have to add 1/4 Cup water)
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1/2 Large Yellow Onion
1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Oregano
1 Teaspoon Basil
1/2 Table Onion Powder
1 Teaspoon Marjoram
1 Teaspoon Parsley
1/8 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes(or A Pinch of Cayenne Pepper)
2 lbs Potatoes Boiled)
1/2 Tablespoon Salt
1/8 Teaspoon Cloves
1 Can Coconut Milk (15.6 oz.) or 1 3/4 – 2 Cup Fresh Coconut Milk
Peel your potatoes and boil them in a large pot. Make sure you have enough water to cover your potatoes. You can add your salt in the water, while boiling. Meanwhile, add the olive oil and brown the meat.
Chop the onion and add to the meat. Let them cook for couple of minutes.
Add all your seasonings, the salt, garlic, onion powder, oregano, basil, marjoram, parsley and red pepper flakes. NOTE: If your meat is really lean, add 1/4 cup of water.
Let the filling cook for another couple of minutes on low.
Meanwhile check your potatoes. When they are ready, drain your potatoes and add a pinch (1/8 Tablespoon) of cloves.
Add your coconut milk and the salt (if you didn’t add it in your water). Slowly mash with electric mixer or hand masher until your potatoes are smooth. NOTE: Initially you might think there is too much liquid, but it will help making the potatoes real creamy. Adjust according to liking. I like using the entire can.
Turn your oven on 400 F (200 C.) Spray or grease an oven safe 8″x 8″ pan (20 cm x 20 cm).
Spread bottom layer with half the amount of the mashed potatoes, then layer on top all the meat. Finish up with the remaining of the potatoes. You can brush some olive oil on the top layer.
Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, until golden color and you see some bubbles. Remove out of the oven and serve!
- You can cook larger batches of the meat filling and freeze them in bags for quicker meals. ** Same cooling, freezing and thawing steps as the recipe for taco meat or my meat sauce.
- If your evening is going to be busy, put the casserole (pie) together in the morning or day before (just layer the potatoes with the meat – don’t bake it), cover and store in the refrigerator. Pull it out of refrigerator about 40 minutes before dinner, uncover and stick it in the oven on 400 F and let it bake for 30 + minutes.
- Leftovers taste just as great!
Lovely meal that you can serve with a side salad. Serve some grated/shredded cheese on the side for those who would like some as topping. St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner, might get lucky ;-). Get those potatoes out and have an AWESOME traditional Irish Celebration!!!