Recipe: Shepherd’s Pie w/ Mashed Celeriac

I admit it. There’s not much new to offer in the way of Shepherd’s Pie. The Paleo community is all over it. And who can blame them? With its savory ground lamb stewed with chunks of veggies and topped with a delicious something then baked, it’s the epitome of comfort food.

CeleriacWait. What’s that “something” I mentioned up there? Well, you see, many in Paleo don’t want to use the traditional white potato topping, so they use sweet potatoes or mashed cauliflower instead. All tasty options, but I think I’ve done one better. Oh yes, folks. Now you have a reason to get familiar with celeriac, also known (apparently erroneously) as celery root, that ugly stepchild of CSA boxes everywhere. One look at its ugly mug and it seems like the last thing on earth that would be edible.

But something magical happens when you mash it with butter. The celery flavor mellows out and the texture is darn-near perfectly fluffy and creamy. So much so, that cream isn’t even needed, though if I have some on hand, I don’t mind adding a few tablespoons. I also like this when I add a parsnip or two to the mash.

So when the wind is blowing and the cold outside is too much to bear, curl up with some Shepherd’s Pie. But be forewarned—you’re gonna need a shovel.

Shepherd's PieShepherd’s Pie with Mashed Celeriac

Celeriac Mash

1 large or 2 small celeriac bulbs, peeled and diced small

3 Tbsp. pastured butter, cut into small cubes (ghee would be the best replacement here)

1-2 Tbsp. cream (optional)

sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Lamb and Veggies

1 lb. ground lamb (substituting ground beef would work just fine)

1 onion, diced small

8 oz. button mushrooms, sliced (about 4-5 regular)

1 carrot, diced small

1 celery stalk, diced small

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp. dried thyme

1/2 – 1 cup broth (beef, chicken, or lamb would work fine)

1/2 cup frozen peas (optional, feel free to leave out)

sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Shepherd's Pie1) Preheat oven to 375°F. Steam celeriac (and parsnip if using) in a steamer basket over boiling water until soft. You’ll know when you stab it with a fork and it slides right off or breaks apart. You want it pretty soft. This’ll take about 10 minutes or so.

2) Meanwhile, sauté lamb in a large skillet over medium-high heat. It should render enough fat, but if not, feel free to add some more (I like butter here). When there’s enough fat in the pan, stir in onions and mushrooms, cooking until onions begin to get translucent and mushrooms soften, about 4-5  minutes. Add carrot and celery, cooking until they’re al dente, about 6 minutes more. Stir in garlic and thyme until fragrant, about 1 minute, then pour in just enough broth to moisturize everything. You don’t want soup. Add peas, if using, and adjust seasoning with S&P. Turn off heat while you prepare mashed celeriac.

Option 3a) If you want a rustic topping and don’t mind some lumps, dump steaming water out of the pan and return it to the stove. Add butter cubes and cream (if using) to the bottom and then pour celeriac on top. Season with S&P and mash by hand.

Option 3b) If you want a smoother, more refined topping, pour celeriac into a food processor with butter and cream (if using) and whirl until smooth. Season to taste with S&P.

4) Pour lamb mixture into a casserole dish (mine is 1.5 quart) or 8×8″ pan, pressing down on it to level it out. Spoon celeriac on top. If you want that classic browned top, whisk an egg white and then brush it over the top of the celeriac. Pop it in the oven, set timer for 30 minutes. Get your shovel ready and serve it up!

Serves 6.


5 Responses to “Recipe: Shepherd’s Pie w/ Mashed Celeriac”

  1. Wow! What timing! I was in Ireland two weeks ago at a hunting lodge and this was served with venison the first night. I asked them to bring me the root so I could have a gander (yes, it’s quite ugly!)…Wow, it’s incredibly delicious and is a wonderful substitute for mashed potatoes (I want to whip up a garlic/butter/creme version). I am wondering how easy this is to find in the states? I don’t think I’ve ever seen it at our grocery stores here in Texas. Farmer’s markets perhaps?

    Yay for celeriac and good for you for bringing this delicious and healthy root vegetable to the forefront.

    Happy holidays, and thanks for all you do for our Paleoverse community!


    • Thanks Wendy, that sounds like an awesome trip! I imagine this would be amazing with venison. You know, celeriac kinda hides its ugly face until you look for it, so it might be there somewhere! Or you could always ask your store to carry it. For as great as my farmers’ markets are here, I’ve never seen celeriac. But Texas might be different. In fact, I KNOW it is, having grown up right next to it. ;)

  2. This is a lovely recipe – and I’d recommend adding in some chopped anchovy fillets for added depth! (And a dash of Worcester sauce :))

  3. I wanted to thank you for this wonderful read!!
    I absolutely enjoyed every bit of it. I’ve got you saved as a favorite to look at new things you post…

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