One of my favorite comfort food meals: keto friendly shepherd’s pie, a meaty casserole topped with a low carb cauliflower mash that tastes like mashed potatoes.
As is often the case with well-known dishes, there are a lot of variations of shepherd’s pie and cottage pie. They generally refer to meat pies or casseroles cooked in a sauce with vegetables, and topped with mashed potato before baking.
The term shepherd’s pie is usually reserved for when ground lamb is used for the meat sauce, and cottage pie for beef. This recipe uses lamb, but you can substitute it with beef for a similarly delicious result.
This dish is more involved than my usual easy recipes — it’s almost like two recipes in one, because you need to make two layers for this casserole — but totally worth the effort. Fantastic flavors and textures.
Developing A Low Carb Version
I’ve been making this classic dish long before I made the transition to a low carb lifestyle. To make this keto friendly, I replaced the traditional mashed potatoes topping with a mashed cauliflower version, adapted from my mashed cauliflower recipe.
There are a few differences compared to my standalone cauliflower mash; most notably, I altered the ratio of various ingredients so that the cauliflower mash is fluffier and thicker, which I think works better as a topping for shepherd’s pie. I love how it turned out — a generous layer that tastes identical to mashed potatoes.
The casserole will be very hot when it comes out of the oven, so let it cool a bit before slicing and serving. This will help the casserole keep its shape better, which means you’ll be able to serve slices that hold together instead of falling apart.
You can serve this with other Irish themed dishes, like Instant Pot Corned Beef with cabbage and carrots, or with green colored veggie sides like broccoli, green beans, and peas.
For Fun: Books To Read While Devouring This
Shepherd’s pie and its many variants are staple foods in fantasy books. I’m always so intrigued when authors mention the specific foods that characters are eating.
Here are a few of my favorite fantasy series:
- The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb, plus all of the subsequent series in the Elderlings realm (see bibliography)
- The Deed of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon
- Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Keto Shepherd’s Pie (Low Carb Cauliflower Mash & Meat Casserole)
One of my favorite comfort food meals: keto friendly shepherd's pie, a meaty casserole topped with a low carb cauliflower mash that tastes like mashed potatoes.
Mashed Cauliflower Layer:
- 24 ounces cauliflower florets
- 2 ounces (about 1/2 cup) shredded cheddar cheese
- 2 ounces (1/4 cup) cream cheese softened to room temperature
- 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) salted butter softened to room temperature
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Making Meat Sauce:
Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add meat and cook until no longer pink, breaking it up with a wooden spoon and stirring frequently, about 5 minutes.
Add diced celery, onions, carrots, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper to the pan. Cook until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add beef broth and tomato paste to the pan, stirring until the paste dissolves. Reduce heat slightly and let it continue to simmer until the sauce thickens, about 15 minutes, before turning off the heat. While it’s simmering, start preparing the mashed cauliflower in the next step.
Making Mashed Cauliflower:
Place cauliflower florets in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave until the cauliflower is very tender, about 10 minutes.
Spread out the florets on paper towels to drain for 5 to 10 minutes or until they stop steaming.
Transfer the cauliflower florets to a food processor or blender. Add cheddar cheese, cream cheese, butter, garlic, salt, and pepper. Puree until it has a smooth consistency resembling mashed potatoes. You may need to scrape down the sides of the food processor/blender bowl a few times.
Assembling & Baking:
Use a slotted spoon to transfer the meat mixture to an 8x8 inch or 2 quart baking dish, evenly spreading it along the bottom. Leave the grease in the pan.
Evenly spread the mashed cauliflower over the meat. Use a fork to roughen the cauliflower surface.
Optionally, top with shredded cheddar cheese and paprika. Lightly drizzle olive oil on top.
Bake at 400 F until the peaks of the mashed cauliflower are browning, about 30 minutes. Optionally garnish with chives or parsley. It will be very hot so let it cool a bit in the pan before slicing and serving.
This recipe yields 6.5 g net carbs per serving (1/6th of an 8x8 inch casserole).
|Nutrition Facts Per Serving|
|Total Fat 28g||43%|
|Saturated Fat 13g||64%|
|Trans Fat 0.5g|
|Total Carb 10g||3%|
|Dietary Fiber 3.5g||15%|