Shepherds Pie Italian Style | thehealthyfoodie.com

I got the inspiration for this Italian Style Shepherd’s Pie out of the same magazine that inspired this Rustic Coconut Rutabaga Mash.

Again, it was a strange flavor combination that totally piqued my curiosity. This time, the bizarre union brought forth was that of orange, tomato and star anise. Such an unheard of combination for this foodie; I just HAD to give it a try.

As usual, though, I was once again forced to make quite a few substitutions. For starters, the original recipe was topped with a mouth-watering creamy, cheezy polenta. No matter how delicious it looked, that just didn’t sit well with my Paleo lifestyle. And it definitely didn’t go hand in hand with my Whole30 challenge… Sooooo, I had to improvise. I figured cauliflower and rutabaga would go very well with the flavors I imagined in my mind. And indeed, they did.

For the remainder of the recipe I think I stayed fairly true to the original, I think… To be honest, I only just read it for inspiration and then pretty much carried out with my own vision. So I might have made 9 or 10 more substitutions…

Now I’m not gonna lie to you: this is one labor intensive, extremely demanding version of a Shepherd’s Pie. It takes FOREVER to make. I even chose to make mine over the course of 2 days.

But the result is absolutely astonishing. Spectacular. Extraordinary.

It’s very well worth putting in the extra effort, I swear.

Since we’ll be spending quite a chunk of time in the kitchen, what do you say we get started now? Let’s go…  

Shepherds Pie Italian Style | thehealthyfoodie.com

Preheat your oven to 325°F.

Heat about 1 tablespoon of ghee or coconut oil in a large skillet  set over high heat. Meanwhile, pat the meat real dry and sprinkle it generously with salt and pepper.

When the pan is sizzling hot, add the blade roast and leave it alone. Do not move it until it has formed a nice golden crust, which should take about 5 minutes.

Shepherds Pie Italian Style | thehealthyfoodie.com

HA! See that? That’s what we’re looking for.

Now flip that piece of meat and sear the other side until it too, forms a nice golden crust.

Shepherds Pie Italian Style | thehealthyfoodie.com

Transfer your slab of meat to a large 7 quart Dutch oven and then place the orange, fresh thyme and star anise on top.

Make sure to position the star anise in a way that you will allow you to easily spot it once the meat is cooked, as you will DEFINITELY want to remove it from there.

Hey, take a picture if you have to! 😉 Can you spot mine?

Shepherds Pie Italian Style | thehealthyfoodie.com

Alright, now that you’ve noted the exact positioning of your star anise, place your skillet back over the heat source and then add the celery, onions, and garlic to it; cook the vegetables for one or two minutes, until they are slightly softened.

Shepherds Pie Italian Style | thehealthyfoodie.com

Add the chicken stock, balsamic vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper to the skillet and mix well, scraping the bottom of the pan as you go so all the good bits detach and add their flavor to the mix. Seriously. There’s TONS of gusto in there…

Pour that liquid and veggies over the reserved meat.

Shepherds Pie Italian Style | thehealthyfoodie.com

Add the tomatoes, put the lid on and place that in the oven for about 3½ hours or until the meat detaches very easily when pulled with a fork.

Shepherds Pie Italian Style | thehealthyfoodie.com

When the meat is fully cooked, remove it from the oven and let it cool until you can safely handle it with your bare fingers.

That’s when I chose to take a break and save the rest of the job for the next day. I put this whole pot of goodness in the refrigerator and reheated it the following day. I placed it in a 350°F oven until it got just to that point where it was hot but not so much that I couldn’t handle it with my bare fingers. That took about 20 minutes. 

You could very well do the same thing if you wanted to! 

Shepherds Pie Italian Style | thehealthyfoodie.com

Or not… you can very well make this recipe from beginning to end in one sitting.

While your meat is cooling down, cut the Italian tomatoes into quarters and remove the seeds. Lay them on a baking sheet that’s been lined with parchment paper, drizzle them generously with extra-virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano.

Shepherds Pie Italian Style | thehealthyfoodie.com

Roast the tomatoes in a 325°F oven for 1½ hour, until they look something like this…

I have to say, I’m not a fan of cooked tomatoes, but these? Oh my! I think I could enjoy them just like that as a side.

Shepherds Pie Italian Style | thehealthyfoodie.com

When your meat has cooled enough, remove the oranges, thyme and star anise from the Dutch oven. You remember where you placed that star anise, right? Really, make SURE you get it out of there. This stuff is nasty when you bite into big chunks of it!

Now about the orange: you can put the pulp back in if you want, but make sure you leave the peel out. If you left it in, the sauce would be way too bitter.

Remove the meat from the Dutch oven, tear it into bite size pieces with your fingers and place it at the bottom of a baking dish; discard the bones and fat.

Transfer the cooking liquid, along with the vegetables and orange pulp if you kept it, into a food processor or blender. Make extra certain that there are no bones left (and did you get that star anise out? You might want to check that again!) and process until smooth.

Pour that sauce over the meat, but reserve about a cup to serve with the finished Shepherd’s Pie.

Shepherds Pie Italian Style | thehealthyfoodie.com

Top the meat and sauce with the roasted tomatoes.

Shepherds Pie Italian Style | thehealthyfoodie.com

Place the rutabaga and cauliflower in a steaming basket, sprinkle with salt, cover and steam over a few cups of boiling water until fork tender.

Transfer the veggies to the bowl of your food processor, add salt, pepper and ghee and process until the desired consistency is achieved.

Shepherds Pie Italian Style | thehealthyfoodie.com

Mound the mashed vegetables over the tomatoes and delicately spread all the way to the edge of your dish.

Shepherds Pie Italian Style | thehealthyfoodie.com

Increase the oven temperature to 375°F and bake your Shepherd’s Pie for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top turns slightly golden.

Sprinkle with extra-virgin olive oil, fresh parsley and orange zest and serve with the reserved leftover sauce.

Shepherds Pie Italian Style | thehealthyfoodie.com

Now try not to get overly excited like I did…

I think when I got to this point, I got a little too enthusiastic at the idea of finally having a taste of this bonne bouche: this unfortunate incident happened. Yeah, that sucks. Really, you guys came *THIS* close to never even seeing the finished product. What a shame this would’ve been.

And that also explains why I wasn’t able to capture this succulent dish quite as expertly as I would’ve liked. Let’s just say our love affair got cut a little short…

At least, I was still able to eat it! I think I would’ve been more devastated if I’d dropped the dish on the floor and rendered it inedible. Mind you… this Shepherd’s Pie is so good, I may very well have eaten the whole thing right off the floor!

At least the lens, I was able to replace in a timely manner and without too much effort on my part… or without making a fool of myself!

Shepherd’s Pie – Italian Style

Servings: 8

Ingredients

  • 1- 2 kg 4½lb beef blade roast
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups light chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp Himalayan salt
  • 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 navel orange, peel on, cut into quarters
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 large, 794g | 28oz can diced tomatoes

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  • 1 large rutabaga, cut into 1/2" cubes (about 600g | 1.3lb)
  • 1 large cauliflower, cut into florets (about 600g | 1.3lb)
  • 1/2 tsp Himalayan salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 tbsp ghee, or make your own

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 325F.
  • Heat about 1 tablespoon of ghee or coconut oil in a large skillet over high heat. Meanwhile, pat the meat real dry and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
  • When the pan is sizzling hot, add the blade roast and do not move it until it has formed a nice golden crust, which should take about 5 minutes. Flip the piece of meat and sear the other side until it too, forms a nice golden crust.
  • Transfer the meat to a large 7 quart Dutch oven and place the orange, fresh thyme and star anise on top. Make sure to position the star anise in a way that you will allow you to easily spot it once the meat has cooked, as you will DEFINITELY want to remove it from there.
  • Place the skillet back over the heat source and add the celery, onions, and garlic to it; cook the vegetables for one or two minutes, until they are slightly softened.
  • Add chicken stock, balsamic vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper to the skillet and mix well, scraping the bottom of the pan as you go so all the good bits detach and add their flavor to the mix. Pour that liquid over the reserved meat.
  • Add the tomatoes put the lid on and place that in the oven for about 3½ hours, or until the meat detaches very easily when pulled with a fork.
  • When the meat is fully cooked, remove it from the oven and let it cool until you can safely handle it with your bare fingers.
  • While that is happening, cut the Italian tomatoes into quarters and remove the seeds. Lay them on a baking sheet that’s been lined with parchment paper, drizzle them generously with extra-virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano. Bake in a 325F oven for 1½ hour.
  • When your meat has cooled enough, remove the oranges, thyme and star anise from the Dutch oven. You can put the orange pulp back if you want, but make sure you leave the peel out. And make sure you got that star anise out of there.
  • Remove the meat, tear it into bite size pieces with your fingers and place it at the bottom of a baking dish; discard the bones and fat.
  • Transfer the cooking liquid to a food processor or blender, make sure there are no bones left (did you get that star anise out? You might want to check again!) and process until smooth.
  • Pour that sauce over the meat, reserving about a cup to serve with the finished Shepherd’s Pie.
  • Top with the cooked tomatoes.
  • Place the rutabaga and cauliflower in a steaming basket, sprinkle with salt, cover and steam over a few cups of boiling water until fork tender.
  • Transfer the veggies to the bowl of your food processor, add salt, pepper and ghee and process until desired consistency is achieved.
  • Mound over the layer of tomatoes and delicately spread all the way to the edge of your dish.
  • Increase oven temperature to 375F and bake the Shepherd’s Pie for about 25-30 minutes, or until the top turns slightly golden.
  • Sprinkle with extra-virgin olive oil, fresh parsley and orange zest and serve with the reserved leftover sauce.
Author: Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

If you’ve tried this recipe, please take a minute to rate the recipe and let me know how things went for you in the comments below. It’s always such a pleasure to hear from you!

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Shepherds Pie Italian Style | thehealthyfoodie.com

Shepherds Pie Italian Style | thehealthyfoodie.com

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