The Beef Chronicles: Shepherd’s Pie with Cauliflower Purée

If you’ve been reading for a while, by now you know that my boys are picky eaters. Yep, they rank up there right alongside the most turned-up of noses. Getting them to eat their greens can be a challenge and so when a vegetable dish makes it past the ever-dubious first glance and that cautious initial bite, it is well worth a mention here. Hence this veggie-laden Shepherd’s Pie.

The traditional – and beloved by all children – topping of mashed potato I replaced with a fluffy cauliflower puree and no one suspected a thing. Imagine!

I wouldn’t label myself as a sneaky cook. I don’t go to great lengths to disguise vegetables, but if it just so happens that I bring healthy ingredients together and give the illusion of something entirely different, I’m going to sit back with a smile on my face and watch the children devour seconds.

On another note, we’re really enjoying our beef and the Beef Chronicles. If you’re new to UtHC, here’s the background to the Chronicles in a nutshell…

This past summer we visited a local organic farm and bought a cow – calf-, well, a yearling Black Angus. Inspired by a dozen or so beautiful cuts of beef in my freezer, I started the Beef Chronicles as a tribute to the young cow and as an exercise to try new recipes and blog about main dishes more often. Here is the complete introduction to the Chronicles and a more elaborate explanation of the project.

Recipes that I have made so far are linked at the bottom of the post.

Shepherd’s Pie with Cauliflower Puree

2 lbs ground beef, or a mixture of ground beef and veal
1 large onion, chopped

2 Tablespoons olive oil

4 cloves garlic, de-germed and chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

salt and pepper

1 tomato, chopped

1 teaspoon vinegar

1 large Cauliflower

whole nutmeg

2 tablespoons cream

3 cups sweet corn, fresh if possible

paprika, to garnish

Sauté the onion in the olive oil until softened, about three minutes. Add beef or veal and gently sear the meat all over, breaking up the chunks with a wooden spoon. Add chopped garlic, cumin, oregano, tomato, vinegar and combine well. Cook for ten minutes on medium, stirring often, until evenly browned. Season to taste with salt & pepper.

Meanwhile, bring a medium sized pot of water to a boil while you cut the cauliflower into large florets. Season water with salt and blanch cauliflower until quite soft. Drain. Puree cauliflower in a blender until smooth, adding a little cream to assist in the process. Season with salt and pepper and a fine grating of nutmeg.

Preheat oven to 375F.

To assemble:
In a casserole dish, spread beef mixture evenly over the bottom. Scatter corn kernels over the meat. Using a flexible spatula, spread cauliflower puree over the top of everything. Smooth to cover. Dust with paprika and bake 30- 40 minutes until heated through.

Dot with butter and serve. To your kids.

More Beef Chronicles:

In Which we Buy A Cow

An Introduction

Rib Steak With Red-Wine Butter

Rosemary-Garlic Marinated T-Bone

Cumin-Scented Kebabs

Sesame-Beef Lettuce Wraps

Beef Tacos with Salsa Cruda

Classic Roast Beef & Yorkshire Pudding

Steak au Poivre & Sweet Potato Fries

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. I would never have guessed it was possible to make cauliflower puree so…fluffy! What a great variation–and way to broaden the toddler palate.

  2. What a perfect way to get those veggies in — I'm not a big fan of cauliflower, so this may be a good way for ME to get that veggie in, too!

  3. And my girls wouldn't eat that because the cauliflower looks like mashed potatoes! Kids are so fickle.

    Thinking of you guys today.

  4. YUM-O!! I've used cauliflower as a sneaky potatoes replacement before and it is AMAZING how similar they are. This looks divine.

  5. Melissa @BakingfortheBoys says

    I love sheperds pie and haven't made it in a long time. I love the cauliflower topping.

  6. Ooooh…what a great idea about the potatoes! Way to save on the carbs.

    We just made shepherd's pie at home, but the vegetarian options, packed with lentils. I'd love the try it with this cauliflower puree!

  7. We love Shepherd's pie around here- don't know if I could get away with the cauliflower puree though. I made it once when I was on the South Beach diet- they claimed it was the same as mashed potatoes. By itself, it wasn't. But perhaps in this recipe it would work….

  8. I really enjoy pureed cauliflower but sadly it is the ONE vegetable my boyfriend cannot stand. Maybe if I didn't tell him it was cauliflower he would never know….

  9. Jan (Mixing Bowl Kids) says

    This puree looks just like potatoes….amazing! We're lovers of Shepherd's Pie in my home and this would be a great alternative. Thanks for sharing.

  10. My in-laws just bought a cow and gave us a beautiful t-bone steak. Can't wait to try it! This shepherd's pie looks delicious, and I want to try that cauliflower topping!

  11. My husband is the picky eater in our family.. pickier then my son, who will eat almost anything. Unfortunately he is a little harder to fool. 🙂 But, I would gobble this up in an instant. It looks delicious!

  12. Sounds great, except my picky eater won't eat mashed potatoes. Yes, he's weird.

  13. hi aimee,
    just tried this with a little variation: i used potatoes,cauliflower and butternut squash for the great as well!thank you so much for the idea!best from berlin,anja xx

  14. Great idea, I'm saving this one for when I have kids! Your shepherd's pie looks delicious! Although one day, someone will have to sit me down and explain to me the difference between "hachis parmentier", "pâté chinois" and "shepherd's pie". All I know is that "pâté chinois" has to have corn in it… Whatever, ground meat and mashed potatoes (or cauliflower) will always be golden in my eyes!

  15. I've made cauliflower purée before and have never achieved such a wonderful consistency! How did you do that?! It looks just like potatoes! Amazing!

  16. If only I had been so sneaky when L'il Burnt Toast was young.

  17. You know I'm right there with you – I have a 16-month-old that's already picky! I'm finding that he'll try things if he gets his OWN spoon and bowl.

    I'll just keep on keeping on. Serve it to him over and over until he gives it a nosh.

  18. Salut Aimée,

    Your recipes are great and we thought this might be of interest to you and your readers: Normand Laprise is working with Thermador on "Les Produits Locaux", a mini series where Normand's visits his favourite local markets to use local products in his recipes. Check it out at (le site est en français)

  19. love shepherd's pie and I actually found a recipe recently that uses duck instead of beef… and a mix of cauliflower and potatoe for the topping. It's one I plan on trying!

  20. LOVE this — it looks amazing! I've been thinking about doing a mashed cauliflower for Thanksgiving instead of potatoes — your gorgeous shepherd's pie is inspirational!

  21. Oh wow. I've been craving shepherd's pie something fierce lately – so warm and comforting and perfect as the weather gets crisp. Love the cauliflower too, our veggie share program has been full of cauliflower lately!
    This is making it onto the 'to try' recipes this week, thanks Cuz!

  22. Hi, I just started writing about food in Montreal, I want to invite you to visit me

  23. That looks delicious. Cool blog, by the way.

  24. Delicious! I added a layer of cheddar and mozza right under the "Fauxtatoes" and used green beans and cabbage and carrots instead of corn. MMMM Great idea using cauliflower instead of potatoes!

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