Classic Shepherd’s Pie with Parsnip Mash

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For the topping:

  • 1 ½ lbs / 680 g white sweet potato
  • 1 lb / 454 g parsnips
  • 2 tbsp / 30 ml avocado oil
  • 1 tbsp / 15 ml beef broth
  • 1 tsp / 5g fine sea salt

For the filling:


  1. BOIL: Peel the white sweet potatoes and chop them into 1 inch / 2.5 cm slices, then in half to make even-ish sized chunks. Peel the parsnips and slice them thinly. If necessary to make even sized slices, cut the thicker ends of the parsnips in half before slicing. If your parsnips are especially large, cut the thicker ends into quarters, then cut out and discard the woody inner cores before slicing. Add both the sweet potato and parsnip to a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, then simmer and cook until the vegetables are fork tender, about 15 minutes or so.
  2. MASH: Drain the vegetables. Return them to the saucepan and let them sit for a few minutes to cool slightly and release steam. This helps create a mash that isn’t gummy. Add the oil, broth and sea salt, then use an immersion blender to puree the vegetables until smooth. Set aside for later.
  3. BROWN: While the vegetables for the topping are cooking, brown the meat. Preheat a 12 inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the avocado oil and, when hot, add about half of the lamb or beef, along with half of the salt. Cook until browned on both sides, turning a few times and breaking up with the back of a spoon or spatula as it cooks. Transfer the browned meat to a bowl, using a slotted spoon to leave the fat behind in the pan, then repeat with the rest of the meat and remaining salt. Transfer the cooked beef to the bowl and reserve for later.
  4. SOFTEN: Pour off any excess fat or liquid from the meat into a heat proof dish, leaving behind just enough fat to coat the skillet. (If you like, add a tablespoon or so of the drippings to the mash). Reduce the heat and add the onions and garlic to the skillet. Cook, stirring a few times, until translucent, about 5 minutes or so. Add the grated carrots, browned meat, red wine vinegar, coconut aminos, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf to the skillet and stir to combine.
  5. THICKEN: Preheat the oven to 400 F / 205 C. Add the broth to a high sided measuring jug or similar. Add 6 tablespoons of the mashed vegetable mixture and use the immersion blender from earlier to blend together smoothly. Add the thickened broth to the skillet and cook until it reduces by about half, 3 or 4 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer it to a trivet.
  6. BAKE: Remove and discard the bay leaf. Add the riced cauliflower and stir it through the meat mixture evenly. Pat the meat layer down with a spatula so that it’s level. Spoon the remaining mashed vegetables on top of the meat filling, layering it on top evenly and fluffing up with a fork to give a rustic, swirled texture. Place the skillet on a baking sheet and into the oven. Bake until heated through and bubbly, about 30 minutes.
  7. BROIL: If you like, you can brown the top additionally by placing it under a preheated broiler: make sure to watch it carefully, as the natural sugars in the vegetables can go from browned to burned very quickly! Once browned, let the Shepherd’s Pie sit for a few minutes before serving.


To make this completely coconut free, you can omit the coconut aminos, or substitute 1 tsp / 5 ml of gluten free fish sauce instead.