Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Give Peas a Chance: Gluten-Free Shepherd’s Pie

I have always been a picky eater, particularly when it comes to food texture.  Anything mushy/mealy I could not stand – peas, beans, potatoes, etc.  Fortunately, I’m starting to grow out of that, since potatoes are now a major staple in my gluten-free diet.  My friends and family still tend to laugh when they see me get excited about a big pile of mashed potatoes, because for over 20 years I wouldn’t touch potatoes unless they were deep-fried and crispy!

I might have embraced potatoes, but I’m still on the fence when it comes to peas or beans, and they never appear as side dishes on my table.  Peas and I in particular have a long-standing animosity ever since my mother tried to force feed them to me as a child and I let her know quite clearly and memorably that I did not like them (let’s just say that she triggered my gag reflex).  That was the last time she tried that, and we stuck to raw vegetables for most of my childhood.

Now, I’m trying to give peas a chance.  Hubs has always said that shepherd’s pie is his favorite dish that his grandmother made and for years I refused to try making it due to my issues with potatoes and peas.  Now that I’ve embraced potatoes, I decided it sounded like the perfect way to try peas again.  I found this 30-minute shepherd’s pie recipe from Rachael Ray and tweaked it to make it gluten free and work with what I had on hand.

I used beef for my version, although the traditional protein is lamb.  We recently found a “chili-style” ground beef at Kroger that we really like, it’s a much coarser grind, sort of like big ropes, so you get nice big chunks of meat. 
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I picked it up on a manager’s special last month and froze it using our FoodSaver – great way to save money in a meat-eating household!  To safely defrost meat, just pull it out of the freezer the day before and put it in the fridge.

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Gluten-Free Shepherd’s Pie
Serves 4
  • 4 medium russet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup milk or cream (sub chicken broth for lighter version)
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 package (approx 1 1/4 lbs) 90% lean ground beef, chili-style
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1/2 sweet onion
  • 3 tbsp butter, divided
  • 2 tbsp GF flour (I used Pamela’s Baking Mix)
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
Peel and chunk the potatoes and place in a pot of salted water.  Bring to a boil and cook potatoes until tender, about 12 minutes.  Drain the potatoes and mash with a potato masher or using a food mill.  Add 1 tbsp butter, the milk or cream, and salt and pepper to taste; mix thoroughly.

Peel and chop the carrot and onion into small pieces.  Preheat skillet over medium-high heat and add a little oil to the pan, then add meat and brown for about 4 minutes.  Add the carrot and onion to the meat and cook together for another 5 minutes.  In the last minute, add the peas and preheat your broiler.

In the meantime, make the gravy.  Heat a small pot over medium heat and add 2 tbsp butter.  When it melts, add the GF flour and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown.  Add the beef broth and Worcestershire and whisk together, cooking until slightly thickened, about a minute.
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Pour the gravy over the meat and veggies in the skillet and stir it all together, then add the mixture to an 8x8 baking dish.  Top with the mashed potatoes (the pretty peaks you see are courtesy of Hubs and a fork).  Sprinkle with the cheese and place it under the broiler until golden and bubbly, about 5 minutes.

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Served with broccoli, it makes a complete and very satisfying meal!
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We both thought it came out great, and I’m sure it’ll appear on our table again.  Although since it’s on the indulgent side and I’m trying to get back into fighting shape, it’ll probably be awhile.  I swear it has nothing to do with the peas Smile


  1. You DID like peas.....straight from the freezer! Now that WAS an easy side dish!!! (applesauce and frozen peas and you were happy.

    1. Don't think Hubs would be down with frozen peas on the table but still sounds good to me :-)

  2. My daughter loves Shepard's Pie. This sounds like a great alternative for her alergies. I will try this sometime this week. Thanks for the receipe.

  3. For fewer calories and carbs, use cooked cauliflower, treated just like the potatoes. Even my family likes Shepherd's Pie made this way. No one seems to miss the potatoes.

    1. Thanks for the tip! I've done mashed cauliflower in the past but it's been a long time and I bet it would go over a lot better on top of shepherd's pie :)

    2. I might have missed mention of it above, but I wanted to note for those with severe gluten sensitivity that regular Worcestershire sauce is NOT gluten-free.

  4. I buy the Swanson brand Unsalted Chicken (or Beef) Broth. The chicken & beef broths are both gluten free.

  5. I like both and want to prepare myself with my own hands
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