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Not Your Mom's Sheppard's Pie

  • October 28, 2014

Our family often struggles at dinner hour like so many other families to find recipes that make everyone happy. With so many different opinions in my household on what is liked sometimes I want to give up. We eat a very healthy diet 90% of the time. Most of our meat is organic along with some fruits and vegetables. That being said I’m not a stickler but I do think that meat without hormones or antibiotics really is the way to go

We often hear dieticians say to shop the outer perimeter of a grocery store. If you think about it the outer perimeter in most grocery stores is all the fresh items from meat to vegetables to dairy. These are the items we need to be stocking our fridges with. No processed or preservative rich foods. Going organic just takes it a little further. Listen, this isn’t a forum on natural, organic or commodity foods. I’m not an expert and not forcing anyone to do anything they aren’t comfortable with. This is just my opinion and how we eat as a family. The other thing I try to do is keep starchy carbs and high fat foods out of our daily diet. There are so many great ways to lighten up food but create incredibly tasty meals.


When I set out to create a new dish for the family using ground chicken my mind quickly went to Sheppard’s Pie. I grew up eating it with beef and mashed potatoes. My Mom is British and as I’ve mentioned before she’s a wonderful cook. It was always a meal I enjoyed and looked forward to. Let’s be honest we all love comfort food.


Instead of beef I’ve used chicken and replaced mashed potatoes with cauliflower puree. The rich slightly smoky sauce, the crisp vegetables and creamy cauliflower along with the crunch of the breadcrumbs won my family over BIG TIME!! The kids were literally sighing as they ate it saying how good it was. Even those who hate cauliflower (I’ve heard those people exist) will absolutely love this!! The greens in it give it a little punch of extra vitamins too!! Just try and stop yourself at one helping!


  • For cauliflower puree:

  • 1 large head cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 egg yolk
  • For the meat filling:

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced small
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground chicken
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke
  • 1 package onion soup powder (such as Lipton’s)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoons sumac (optional)
  • 2 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 4oz shredded cheddar cheese
  • 4 thick slices of baguette
  • 1.2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Olive oil


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place bread in blender and pulse until it becomes a thick crumb. Toss with olive oil, 1 teaspoon thyme and salt/pepper. Spread on cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 10-12 min or until they are golden.
  3. Remove stem from cauliflower and place stem side down in the microwave for approx. 12 min. Cauliflower should be soft and cooked. Cut into small florets and place 1/3 of cauliflower in blender along with 1/3 of sour cream, milk, butter, salt, pepper and egg yolk. Repeat twice more; continuously adding blended mixture to bowl.
  4. While the cauliflower is cooking, prepare the filling. Place the canola oil into a 12-inch sauté pan and set over medium high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and carrots and sauté just until they begin to take on colorr, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir to combine. Add the chicken, salt and pepper and cook until browned and cooked through, approximately 3 minutes. Sprinkle the meat with the flour and toss to coat, continuing to cook for another minute. Add the ketchup, chicken broth, Worcestershire, sumac, liquid smoke, thyme, onion soup powder and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly 10 to 12 minutes or until the sauce is thickened slightly.
  5. Add the corn and peas to the chicken mixture and spread evenly into an 11 by 7-inch glass baking dish or 6 single ramekins. Top with the mashed cauliflower, starting around the edges to create a seal to prevent the mixture from bubbling up and smooth with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle cheddar cheese and breadcrumbs over top. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25 minutes or just until the cauliflower begins to brown. Remove to a cooling rack for 15 minutes before serving.