I have been making great strides in terms of learning to eat healthier snacks. I think it’s incredible to see a much wider range of these sorts of recipes available online. I can remember when I first started looking for healthier snack recipes a long time ago and almost none existed. But now the whole world seems to know paleo, sugar-free, low-carb or even plain old gluten-free recipes. So while I was thinking of what to do for dinner I was also thinking of what sort of snacks I could make to eat throughout the rest of the weekend. All of a sudden I had a bizarre craving for zucchini and smoothies.
There is a cafe below where I work which specialises in raw treats, and healthier eats. Most of their wares are not gluten-free, however, so I tend to avoid their food and stick to their smoothies. I have been attempting to improve the smoothies I use at home and so far have had no success. But I was inspired to look for some paleo smoothie recipes are realising how much I liked the ones at the cafe, and how their ingredients were more or less paleo too!
But I am a carnivore at heart, and so when I was flipping through a growing collection of Australian Women’s Weekly cookbooks to look for dinner recipes I couldn’t go past this one for Shepherd’s Pie. Most people will know this is a classic dinner dish which is inexpensive to make and which can be made to feed a large gathering. But what a lot of people might not know is how old this dish is, and where it comes from. To understand that we have to start with the dish which is almost interchangeable with Shepherd’s Pie, and that is of course Cottage Pie.
Cottage Pie precedes Shepherd’s Pie, and was referenced in cookbooks and the like from even the late seventeen hundreds! It was considered the poor man’s meal because it made use of leftover meat and a mashed potato topping, and potato was the poorer citizen’s crop. It is said to have originated in either Ireland, Scotland or North Britain – but sources seemed to argue about who made it first and where. All I know is that this dish has been around for quite some time. But what first distinguished the two dishes, you might ask! Cottage Pie was traditionally made on beef whereas Shepherd’s Pie was traditionally made on lamb. Nowadays we’re not all that fussed about what meat we use, and we use either name to refer to more or less the same dish. I know I grew up eating a lot of Shepherd’s Pie, and I think of it as being a traditional and old-fashioned sort of meal. It’s got the feel and flavours of home for me.
There are also similar versions of this dish in other parts of the world, ranging from Spain and France right through to India! What’s more not all of these dishes were made using mashed potato as a topping. In fact the Oxford Companion to Food even claims that Scotland used to make their Shepherd’s Pie with pastry rather than mash. So what might seem like a rather common dish can turn out to be one with a rather interesting story!
Adapted from the Australian Women’s Weekly: At my Mother’s Knee
Serves: 4-5, Prep: 20-30 mins, Cook: 20-25 mins
- 30g butter
- 1 brown onion, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 1 tsp mixed herbs
- 500g lamb/beef mince
- 1/4 cup/70g tomato paste
- 1/4 cup/60ml tomato sauce
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (I used a GF brand called Spring Valley)
- 2 cups/500ml gluten free beef stock
- 2 tbsp gluten free plain flour
- 1/2 cup/80ml water
For Mashed Potato Topping
- 1kg potatoes, chopped
- 60g butter
- 1/4 cup/60ml milk
- Preheat the oven to 180C Fan-Forced, and pop the potatoes in a saucepan of hot water. Boil them while preparing the meat filling.
- Heat the 30g of butter in a pan, and then cook the onion and carrot until the onion is browned and the carrot is soft. Add the mince and brown it too.
- Combine the flour and water, and then add it to the mince with the paste, stock and tomato sauce. Add the herbs and mix well.
- Heat the mixture until it boils and thickens, then set aside.
- Once the potatoes are soft when poked with a fork, drain then and them set about making the mash! Add the liquid ingredients to the saucepan and mash them thoroughly.
- Oil a shallow 2.5 cup dish, and spread the meat filling over the base. Top with spoonfuls of the mash.
- Put the whole lot in the oven and bake for up to 20 mins, or until the mash is browned.