Corn-Free, Potato-Free Shepherd’s Pie

By George Gastin (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

 At Last! Also, it’s yummy! I mean, real people actually want to eat this! My recipe is designed to fill a 9×9 glass square baking pan.

Margo’s Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie

  • 3 medium sweet potatoes (about 2 pounds), peeled and cut in 1 inch cubes  
  • 1/2 cup of coconut butter
  • 1/2 stick of actual butter, or 2-3 tbs of coconut oil, palm oil, or  avocado oil
  • 2 cups (or thereabouts) of creamed millet (recipe at below)
  • [1 cup of millet, 2 cups of water, 2 cups of your milk of choice (preferably something creamy– consider mimicreme or the like), 2/3 cup of Daiya, and to taste: salt, fish sauce, coconut aminos, white truffle oil, chipotle hot sauce (medium heat; I used Choula), 3 tbs of GF Millet flour]
  • 1 can of baby peas
  • 1 pound of ground lamb
  • garlic, pepper, celtic sea salt, thyme, rosemary, cinnamon, medium-hot sauce, nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, and star anise
  • Red_Wine_Glaswine

You will need, a large pot (like a stock pot) for boiling water and making your sweet potatoes. I suppose you could bake them, too, but  I don’t think the texture is the same. 1,-2 quart sauce pan, for your millet creamed “corn” plus lid, 1 9x9x 3 baking pan (mine are glass– ceramic would work, too) , 3 wooden spoons (or other implements of choice), a frying pan for the lamb, an oven, and stuff.

sweet-potato-prep_tnSweet potatoes are not as persnickety as regular potatoes, so… do as you think wise on this one.  Really, it’s the coconut and the fat that make the difference for the creaminess. If you want it to brown a bit more on the top, you can sprinkle it with a tiny bit of sugar (say coconut sugar) and/or a little pat of  butter.

First step: If your lamb is frozen, put it in the bottom of your fridge the night before. If it is still not thawed, weigh the plastic package down with a large bowl filled with water inside a mega-sized stock pot.  However, that day (about two to three hours before you want to serve) put water in the pot and start heating it up for cooking your potatoes. For sweet potatoes (IMNSHO) it doesn’t matter if you start with them in the drink or not.

I just dump everything in (2 lb of potatoes and enough water to cover by an inch– don’t worry about the floaters, they will sink) and start it up.  I like starting on High, then moving to Six (or just above absolute medium).  Everything being: salt first (make sure it tastes a little less salty than the ocean– you can always get more in there by adding salted butter) three star anise (you can use more), and 1 stick of cinnamon. Heck, if you have fresh rosemary, stick a frond of that in there, too. Start it to boil, but not too violently. You do want them soft, but not a slurry mess in the bottom of your pot of water.

After having put the potatoes on the stove, start your millet.  That is, 2 cups of water, add your baking soda, make sure it’s dissolved, then add your rinsed millet.  Then watch your millet, because the potatoes pretty much take care of themselves.

After about half an hour, you will have the beginning of grit-dom.  After the rinsing process is complete, and the material no longer tastes like baking soda (you can use red cabbage to see how bad it is… though be sure to test it just after you got it cooked, before rinsing, so you can compare and contrast) you are done rinsing. Use cheese cloth to rinse. Your sanity will thank you. Otherwise you will waste a lot of potential food.


FYI, you can also do the initial cook on your millet in advance– just make sure you do the rinsing before you refrigerate. IT will last up to three days… maybe more.  The nice thing about this process is that the millet won’t be as prone to getting tough in the fridge once cooked.

Once cooked, measure out 3/4 to 1 cup of millet “grits” to 2 cups of milk. It can be any sort of milk you like, though preferably something with a rich texture.  Let it cook for another half an hour on medium low (one notch or number below medium–but don’t let it boil!). Once it is about ready to break–add 3 tablespoons of  GF millet flour.   After that it will tighten and thicken up quite quickly.  Once thick, salt, add flavorants (I used fish sauce, coconut aminos, 3 *drops* of white truffle oil, 2 teaspoons of chipotle Choula (Mexican hot sauce of medium heat fame– awesome stuff btw) and 2/3 of a cup of Daiya Cheese (like)Cheddar flavor product And stir, keeping over low heat (or warm) with the lid on until you are finished with the other.  If the cheddar like product doesn’t integrate right away, don’t panic. It takes a while, and should be integrated creamed-millet-cheese_tnby the time the potatoes are done.

You want to make sure that the flavor for the creamed millet is good, because adding something bland to otherwise good tasting food makes everything else bland.

Once you’ve got the millet set to warm, check the potatoes. For me, they were starting to soften, but not quite there yet. You want to be able to mash them flat with a potato masher. So test with a fork, and get on your lamb.


Put a tiny bit of oil on the pan. Lamb has a good deal of it’s own fat, so using a spray would be best, but you can always just use restraint with your favorite oil, or pour a dab on a paper towel and smear it on your steel fry pan.  (I used rice bran oil.) I set it on medium, and broke up the lamb into small to medium sized bits. Sprinkle with celtic sea salt, and just let it cook until it browned…rather a lot. You want it to be almost cooked on the top side before you flip, so you get the maximal mayard reaction without actually letting things burn. Also, be sure to drain off the excess fat, so you aren’t deep frying your sheep.


Then you add the garlic pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  You can also add shallots or something if you like. Husband is an onion phobe, so feel free to add them for your family. Cook again. When the pan is looking dry and in danger of burning on the bottom… add your wine.  Do not add some of the fat back in. There really is enough to make a rich sauce.  If you are feeling more Irish, use Guinness, or a tasty Irish Red.


Fry it up! Reduce down the liquid until it’s a nice thick sauce. It doesn’t take long. Once the lamb is done, try checking the sweet potatoes. Mine turned out to be done right at the same time as the lamb. YMMV.  Set the oven to 375. You should probably turn it on before I did, but this is when I did it.

Let the lamb cool a little bit, then add to the baking pan. Open and drain your peas, and toss them on top. Then add your approximately two cups of creamed corn. If you like yours less full, then feel free to add less. I was a bit– overzealous with it, but it was so great I didn’t care.

mashed-sweet-potato-with-coconut-butter_tnMash your sweet potatoes with the coconut butter (you can use other nut butters, I guess, but I’d check to make sure they don’t clash with the sweet potato-ey flavor first. Personally I think that almond or Brazil Nut butter would be best)  Cut up the solid fat into small peices and mash that up too. Then spoon it in an even layer on top of the thick and creamy creamed millet.  I had no problems with the potatoes sinking into the soup. 🙂 Now’s the time to bedeck with a little butter/solid fat/and a sprinkle of coconut sugar to get some extra browning action.




Bake in a 375 oven for 45 minutes to an hour. You are looking for a brown edges on the tops of the potatoes and a slightly lighter orange looking crust on top.

sheph-baked-n-yer-face_tnYeah, I know it looks burned in the photo. Trust me, it’s not.

Also, it tastes really really good. I can’t promise this is diet food, but I can tell you that it doesn’t have anything in it that’s intrinsically bad for you. 😛

sheph-serving-final_tnPretend that bottle of Worcestershire sauce is actually a bottle of your favorite beer (or other coveted beverage). Yes, I told you it could get better. 🙂

[Edit: I forgot to mention the 2 tsp lime juice that I used as a part of the Creamed Millet.  You add it along with the other flavorants.  You can probably use lemon juice or vinegar, instead.]


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