James: So… I really can’t eat anything tasty, can I?
Hannah: No – you can eat so many things! Just no sugar, dairy, alcohol, grains, legumes, or processed foods.
James: So… can I have granola bars?
James: How about beef jerky?
James: Pork rinds?
Hannah: No- and that’s disgusting.
James: I don’t get to have anyyyythingggggg. Basically my life will be all black coffee and bland crackers.
Hannah: Um, no – you can’t have crackers.
James: WHAT. So basically we are just surviving on pretension and snobbery… right?
If I had to estimate, the above conversation, in some version, happens approximately every day in our home as we both forge forward in this Whole30 business. I know that you are just dying for our full play-by-play of these thirty days, and I promise that it shall indeed come eventually, but for now just know that I feel great… other than when I feel hungry. Until we mastered the art of getting enough protein and calories in eating mostly veggies and stuff, we both felt pretty hungry and annoyed for the first couple days. But now, now we are champions.There are many great recipes clogging up the internet and boasting about being Whole30 appropriate. Some of them look good, while others look like suspicious blobs of food punctuated with strange colors and things like “coconut aminos.” I do not know what coconut aminos are, nor will you find them in my kitchen, my mother’s kitchen, or the shelves of a local Piggly-Wiggly (may they rest in peace). Which is to say, I promptly skip recipes that involve huge departures from standard practice and normal ingredients.
This is not to say that our past 16 days have not been without great food exploration and discovery. They have. But I draw the line at the point of Whole30 meals not resembling anything I would want to eat at any other point in my life. We have eaten some truly delicious things these past weeks, but as we moved into the end of the second week, I just started craving comfort food, the type of food that you want to eat on cold nights, curled in front of the fireplace (or “Fireplace for your Home” on Netflix for those of us apartment folk). Luckily, through a fellow 30’er on Instagram, I stumbled across Shepherd’s Pie. Y’ALL- SHEPHERD’S PIE.
There are two types of people in the world: Those who believe that casseroles are God’s gift to humanity, and those who disdain their food being presented in homogenous piles. I belong firmly in the first camp, having grown on the promise of potlucks and plates where everything was held together by a sticky layer of cheese. Why make everything separate when you can stack it all on top of each other and bake it with cheese? Of course, it doesn’t take the science of the Whole30 to let you know that casseroles are almost always bad for you. Therein lies their power. But the temptation of the one pot dish that cooks long enough for you to clean up the kitchen — I just can’t pass that up.
Cue Shepherd’s pie.For a long time, I didn’t know I loved Shepherd’s pie. It’s like a casserole without cheese, and that just sounds like a terrible idea. But then I had a Pie Encounter at the Temple of Gluttony, otherwise known as the Cheesecake Factory and I have never looked back. I unabashedly love chain restaurants, and if the Cheesecake Factory is the pinnacle of chain dining success and accomplishment, their shepherd’s pie is the pièce de résistance. The sauce around the veggies! The creamy potatoes on top! The total coziness that eating Shepherd’s pie inspires! I have never even tried to replicate their recipe because it is so good. Yet when I saw someone eating it on Instagram, I was intrigued. I was also starving, so they could have posted a big bowl of Stone Soup and I would have licked the phone. If you are Whole30-ing and are tired of endless days of chicken, eggs, and avocados, you should make this. If you are looking for an easy dish that you can assemble one day and bake days later, you should make this. If you are trying to sneak more veggies into someone’s diet and know that the mashed potatoes will distract them, you should make this. If you are budgeting but still want to make something impressive, you should make this. If you like good leftovers, you should make this. If it is winter where you are and you are hungry, you should make this. If you live right next to a Cheesecake Factory, aren’t trying to eat healthy, and have lots of money, you should just go get theirs to go. Or just make this one and then go pick up some cheesecake for dessert.
Whole30 Shepherd’s Pie*
- 3 Large potatoes/ 4 small ones
- 3 tablespoons ghee, divided
- 2-3 heap tablespoons coconut milk (make sure it Whole30 compliant)
- 1½ teaspoons sea salt, divided
- 2 tablespoons black pepper, divided
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1.5 cup of carrots, diced
- 1.5 cup of celery, diced
- 2 cups mushrooms, sliced
- 1 tablespoon of compliant tomato paste
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup chicken broth or bone broth
- 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1.5 tablespoons minced fresh thyme
- 1.5 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
- Place the potatoes in a large stockpot and fill with water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes, or until fork tender. Drain well, place in a bowl and add 2 TBS of ghee and coconut milk and mash until smooth. Season generously with salt and pepper and set aside.
- In a skillet brown the beef until almost all of the pink is gone, about 7 minutes. Drain and set aside. In the same skillet add the remaining 1 TBS of ghee and wait until melted. Add in carrots, onion, and celery. After about 5 minutes, add mushrooms. Cover and cook on medium heat until they become tender, 8 more minutes.
- Next, stir in the tomato paste and garlic and sauté for another 2 minutes. Pour in the chicken broth, balsamic vinegar, herbs, and more salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Add back in the ground beef and mix until incorporated.
- Transfer to an over safe dish – I used a deep 9 inch pie plate. Pour the meat mixture in and top with the potato mixture, distributing evenly across the top. You can either bake it now (450 degrees for 30 minutes) or you can keep it in the fridge for a couple of days and bake it later. The first time I made this, mine leaked out and made a mess in my oven, prompting my smoke alarm to scream for a solid ten minutes. The second time I was smart and roasted veggies as a side in the rack below. Caught all drippings, spared the neighbors, and the veggies were amazing.
- VARIATIONS: If you are a white potato-hater, you could try parsnips or sweet potatoes, adjusting liquid and seasonings as needed. The Whole30 used to ban white potatoes, but started allowing them in August 2014 and I am all about that (in moderation), but you can be a purist if you so choose. I just feel like orange sweet potatoes on top looked really weird. If you are a vegetarian, double all the veggies, use vegetable broth, and leave out the meat. It should still taste really good, though you may want to bulk up on spices to account for the missing meat juices.
*A friend recommended this recipe on Instagram and I adapted from Brooke, @bitsofbbskitchen. Her Instagram feed is the most consistently awesome Whole30 recipe source I have found. So many hearty, cozy, comfort food favs!
I made it tonight and it was ravaishing. I use the “Lite” coconut mild and like it just as well as the coconut cream milk and it is less calories. And….the Kroger brand is Whole 30 compatible!
I’m so glad you liked it!!! And I really wish we had a Kroger in the city!
This is my favorite thing you’ve ever written: “I unabashedly love chain restaurants, and if the Cheesecake Factory is the pinnacle of chain dining success and accomplishment, their shepherd’s pie is the pièce de résistance.” Finally someone who is not ashamed to love chains!!
Listen, it is an uphill battle, but we must STAND STRONG against the hipster forces that bash the chain restaurant!!! Dependable food is good food!!!
Like you, I fall in that first category. I never grew up on casseroles though. It was only when I started cooking myself, I started to appreciate (and love) them! This pie looks divine.
Welcome, welcome to the Casserole Kingdom. Life is delicious here. : )
Coconut aminos are great! They’re a soy-free substitute for soy sauce. Hooray!
In other news, I will be trying this recipe soon.
Soy without soy???? I’m skeptical… you need to come back to DC and be my scary clean eating mentor.
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Hubby and I are on day 11 of our Whole 30, and wondering what to make with the grass-fed ground beef I had sitting in the fridge, I immediately searched the internet for a Whole 30 compliant Shepherd’s Pie. Thanks to your AMAZING recipe, I have found another yummy meal to add to our rotation. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! (And yes, I’m already eyeballing seconds!!)
That chunk of days in the middle is the hardest!!! So glad this meal can help you get through them!!!
actually you CAN have pork rinds on the Whole30, just read the label to make sure 😉
also, trying this recipe tonight! 🙂
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Hi! I was just curious if you peeled your potatoes before you boiled – it looks that way from the photos, but I don’t want to assume. Can’t wait to make this tonight for our Whole30 Pi Day!!
I did! But you could probably leave them unpeeled if you like that added texture!
Made this last night as an early St. Patty’s day celebration for our Whole30 and it was incredible… almost too good! I’m tucking this one away in our recipe binder for a rainy day because ummm hello! It’s amazing! Now if only my hungry husband didn’t eat so much so the leftovers went a little further… 🙂 Thanks for posting this!
I’m so glad you loved it!!! I am always shocked again by how tasty it is… And how we eat so much and never have enough leftovers!
I was wondering, would it be okay to use dried herbs? If so, how much of each? I have everything but the fresh herbs on hand and wanted to make this tonight for St. Patty’s day without having to stop at the grocery store. This looks delicious, can’t wait to try it! Thank you!
I’m sure it would be fine! I have no clue how the conversion would work… But I have never felt lie there was too much Rosemary so I would say spice boldly!
Hannah, I love your outlook on Whole30 ingredients. On week 2 of Whole30 cooking for family of 4 including two teen boys. It’s already wayyyy more expensive and time consuming without adding in all of the nichey ingredients (coconut amino’s at $12 a bottle?). Making this tonight!
Agreed- it can be such a hassle!!! I was all about the easy things that I could find and make quickly, or at least without having to Google ingredients. Another thing I recommend is the Trader Joes Chicken lime burgers! So good topped with mustard, avocado, spinach, whatever! Those with some sweet potato fries and salad and you have an easy, not weird, relatively cheep meal. : )
I made this tonight and it was the best Shepherd’s Pie I’ve ever made. My husband agreed! Thanks so much for this recipe!
I’m so glad you liked it!!! It is definitely on regular rotation in our home.
This was amazing! We made it with ground lamb and homemade beef bone broth. So delish!
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This is so good, made it twice!!! I suggest using a Pyrex casserole dish. A pie pan would habe been too small. Makes great leftovers the next day.
So glad you liked it! I guess you are right- my pie pan is a deep pyrex one, not a small pie dish. Gotta get all those tasty veggies in there!
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How many servings is this supposed to be?
Hmm… I would say that it can be a main course for 4 people easily, maybe 5.
This sounds delicious however,I have a quick question. I have been doing Whole 30 for over a year and I was under the impression that you could not each any kind of white potatoes? This recipe calls for them?
The used to only allow sweet, but the official rules admitted white potatoes a couple years ago. They still encourage others, but they are allowed!
Here’s the update: http://whole30.com/2014/07/new-whole30/
This sounds delicious however,I have a quick question. I have been doing Whole 30 for over a year and I was under the impression that you could not eat any kind of white potatoes? This recipe calls for them? I have not seen anywhere that they approved white potatoes? If you do switch it out for sweet potatoes and parcnips how should you adjust the liquid content?
They approved white potatoes in July 2014! Hooray!
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Made this a couple of times now and love it. I made a big one tonight and will eat it all week for lunches. Trying not to eat too many potatoes so I like to do 3/4 cauliflower mash and 1/4 potatoes. Thanks for sharing such a great recipe!
It makes great lunches! Rutabaga also works great for the topping!
Looks amazing. Great work, my wife and I are definitely going to try this for this Saint Paddy’s Day!
Has anyone made ahead and kept in the fridge? Curious as to baking temp and time and if that varied after being in the fridge? Would you let it get to room temp first?(I had a bad experience making a meatloaf ahead once)
I have! Mannnyyyyy times. Almost every time actually. I usually just set it out for about 30 minutes to come to room temp then bake as usual.
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