I don’t normally do Keto, but today my friend Amanda gets a shout-out, and we get some tasty Shepherd’s Pie.
Shepherd’s pie is one of those meals that I really like, but I don’t make very often. As some of you may know, I only have one kidney, and as such, I have to spend a lot of time watching my sodium and potassium levels. One of the side effects of this is there are a few meals I don’t get to have nearly as often as I would like. Anything with potatoes, for example, since they’re high in potassium.
In the past, I’ve experimented with potato alternatives specifically for mashed potatoes, and I’ve finally settled on a mashed cauliflower recipe that does the trick. It’s creamy, it’s buttery, it’s full of garlic and cheese, and you’d barely know it wasn’t potatoes if I didn’t tell you. It goes perfectly with this shepherd’s pie recipe I’ve put together from a few different sources.
One nice thing about using a potato alternative is that it makes the recipe keto-friendly. My friend Amanda has been very busy becoming a nurse recently, and while I’ve been making all kinds of tasty treats, she’s also on a keto diet and hasn’t been able to enjoy any of them. So, hey! Guess what, Amanda? This one’s for you.
Choosing a Meat
Most of the shepherd’s pies I’ve ever had have used ground beef as their meat of choice. I considered it, but I have a few other beef-based meals planned in the near future, so I decided to go with something a little more traditional: ground lamb.
Fun fact: it’s usually called a “cottage pie” if the meat is beef, and “shepherd’s pie” when the meat is lamb. It’s all the same, though, and you know what? You use whatever meat you want to. The recipe works just as well with beef as it does with lamb, you just might want to adjust the seasoning a little. It’s flexible like that.
I’m also adding bacon to my shepherd’s pie. In this case, I don’t really care how traditional it is, I just want it. Bacon goes good with the lamb, to add a bit more fatty saltiness to the meat mixture.
Making the Cauliflower
Now, I’m including making the cauliflower as part of the overall recipe, but you can take the instructions I’ve laid out below and use them to make your own as just a side dish any time you want. It’s a recipe I’ve refined to my tastes over the last two years, and I think I’ve finally gotten it nailed down.
My mashed cauliflower uses some minced garlic cooked in melted butter to give it a rich garlic taste. It uses cream cheese to help with both the texture and the creaminess of the resulting fake-potatoes. And, of course, it uses some grated cheese to liven it up. I’d put the cheese in potatoes too, to be honest. I usually use Gruyere or Parmesan, something white that melts well.
As with any of my recipes, you can make changes as much as you like. Less garlic, no cheese, more cheese, added bacon; it’s all good.
My biggest tip here is to make sure you cook the garlic pretty well. You can even roast the garlic first, if you prefer, to keep the flavor mellow. The first time I made this, I didn’t cook the garlic enough, and it was… extremely strong. I don’t recommend it.
Assembling the Pie
Shepherd’s pie is usually just baked in a single large dish. I’ve seen it cooked in pie pans, in cast iron skillets, and in baking dishes. Today, though, I’ve combined two pressures in my life. One is my desire to eat slightly smaller portions than I normally do, in a token nod to health. The other is to make use of these cool ramekins I bought and haven’t yet used yet.
As it turns out, a single 10oz. ramekin is plenty for one person’s dinner (along with something like a nice garlic herb dinner roll). You can make the meat-and-veg mixture, you can make the cauliflower, and you can assemble individual portions to cook when you’re ready to eat. That way you have fresh shepherd’s pie for days!
You can, of course, just cook it all in one vessel if you want. I figured making individual shepherd’s pies would be a fun experiment, and it turned out great. Hopefully you think so too!
Personal Keto-Friendly Shepherd’s Pie
- 10 oz. Ramekins
- Cheese Grater
- Sauce Pan
- Immersion Blender
- Large Pot
- Rubber Spatulas
- Large Mixing Bowl
- 1 Head Cauliflower
- ½ Stick Salted Butter
- 3 Cloves Garlic Minced
- ½ Cup Gruyere Grated
- ½ Cup Cream Cheese
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 1 Pound Ground Lamb
- 1 Pound Bacon Chopped into ½" pieces
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 Onion Large, Diced
- 2 Cups Carrot Diced; about 3 large carrots
- 2 Cups Celery Diced; about 4 large stalks
- 1 Cup Mushrooms Chopped; I use mini-bellas
- ½ Tsp Sea Salt
- ½ Tsp Pepper Fresh ground if possible
- ½ Tsp Paprika
- 1 Tsp Garlic Powder
- 1 Cup Chicken Broth
Make the Cauliflower
- Chop the cauliflower into florets; enough to cook through when boiling, but not too small they over-cook.
- Melt the butter in a sauce pan and add the minced garlic. Cook for several minutes; don't burn it, but cook it to taste.
- Add the cauliflower to your pot and add water until it's just covered. Boil for about 10-15 minutes, or until it's soft.
- Carefully drain the cauliflower and transfer to a large bowl, or not; wherever you want to blend it.
- Start blending with an immersion blender. You're looking for a chunky consistency that is starting to smooth out.
- Add the garlic butter and cream cheese, and continue blending until smooth.
- Once smooth, add in the gruyere, salt, and pepper to taste, mixing with a spatula. Set aside.
Make the Meat Filling
- Chop and prep your veggies.
- In a large pot or skillet, add the oil and onions. Cook the onions until they're starting to become translucent.
- Add the bacon and cook until mostly done, around 10-15 minutes.
- Add the carrots, celery, and mushrooms, and cook further until soft, about 15 more minutes.
- Add the lamb and cook until it's browned, about 10 minutes.
- Add the salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika, and mix well.
- Add in the chicken broth, stir, and boil to cook about half of it off, another 5-10 minutes.
Assemble the Pies
- Fill the ramekins two thirds of the way to the top with meat mixture.
- Top the meat mixture with the cauliflower. Add some grated cheddar if you like.
- Bake in the oven at 350°F for about 20 minutes, or until hot and the cauliflower is starting to brown.