Doing a recipe makeover on a tasty-but-less-than-healthy dish is one of my favorite challenges.
Today, I’m taking on a wintertime classic with my Lightened Shepherd’s Pie. Typically, shepherd’s pie is made from fatty-and-filling lamb, is topped with creamy, cheesy mashed potatoes. How close could I get to the original, while making some healthier ingredient swaps? The answer is: pretty close.
The changes were actually pretty simple, easily making this a weeknight meal.
LIGHTENED SHEPHERD’S PIE
Start to finish: 60 minutes
1 pound (16 ounces) frozen small cauliflower florets, about 5 or 6 cups
1¼ cup chicken broth
3 cloves garlic
1 ounce cream cheese
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup shredded gruyere or cheddar cheese
1 slice bacon, chopped
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup chopped celery, about 2 stalks
1 cup chopped onion, about 1 medium onion
8 ounces finely chopped white mushrooms, about 2½ cups
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound 90 percent lean ground beef
2 cups frozen peas and carrots
1½ cups chopped frozen spinach
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup ale or beer
1½ cups beef broth
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Make the topping:
Place the frozen cauliflower floret, broth and garlic together in a medium saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium low, and let simmer until the cauliflower is very tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 12 minutes. Pour everything into a blender, and add the cream cheese and salt. Blend on low until very smooth, about 2 minutes, stopping to stir as needed. Set the cauliflower puree aside.
Meanwhile, make the filling:
Cook the bacon in the olive oil in a large oven-safe saute pan over medium heat. Once crisp, remove the bacon from the pan and reserve, keeping any fat in the pan. Add the teaspoon of olive oil, and the onion and celery. Cook over medium heat until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Scoot the onion and celery a little to side in the skillet and add the mushrooms to cook them in the center of the pan.
Once the mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes, add the four cloves of minced garlic and stir all the vegetables together. Scoot them again to the side and brown the ground beef, stirring, in the center of the pan until no longer pink, about 8 minutes. Add the frozen peas, carrots and spinach, and reserved bacon, and stir the meat and veggies together.
Add the tomato paste and flour, and stir, cooking for a minute or two. Increase the temperature to medium high, and add the ale or beer, and allow to bubble for a minute. Add the beef broth and let simmer a minute or two while the sauce thickens. (If the filling is too dry, add ½ cup water.) Spread the cauliflower puree over the filling, top with the shredded cheese and bake until shepherd’s pie is heated and cheese is bubbling, about 10-15 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.