This Shepherd’s Pie with Yams is a Paleo and Whole30 twist on one of my all-time favourite comfort foods. It’s every bit as delicious as the classic version you may have grown up with but a bit healthier, swapping Japanese yams for regular potatoes. Truth be told, you could use regular potatoes if that’s what you prefer, but I really like the subtle sweetness that comes from using yams. It pairs really nicely with the other unconventional ingredient I often use to spice things up: smoked paprika!
I originally created this shepherd’s pie as part of my Paleo Dude’s Guide to Cooking: a three-part series that tackled weekend cooking for the modern paleo guy, developed in collaboration with the Human Fit Project for Men’s Fitness Magazine, now called Men’s Journal. You can also find the recipe on MensJournal.com.
In the series, I advocated for batch cooking on Sundays. Ideally, you want to prepare something that could last you through the week, but without having it end up tasting like tire rubber come Wednesday. I’m looking at you oven-roasted, boneless and skinless chicken breast!
Don’t get me wrong, I definitely think Sundays are a great time to relax and catch up on a bit of me-time. But the old adage rings true, failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Unless you’ve got a game plan for the coming week of meals, you’re likely going to scramble for unhealthy options at the last minute.
If you’ve ever meal-prepped before, you know that some foods simply don’t stand the test of time and taste goes out the window by day 2. My absolute favourite way to avoid this is to cook a big shepherd’s pie. Not only does it taste even better the second and third day, but you can also portion-out individual servings and freeze them for a few weeks if needed.
As with these Friday and Saturday night recipes, I sometimes swap the regular potatoes used in traditional shepherd’s pie recipes with Japanese yams for a delicious, low-glycemic alternative. As mentioned, the flavour profile brings a bit of natural sweetness to the finished dish.
This Shepherd's Pie with Yams is a Paleo and Whole30 twist on one of my all-time favourite comfort foods. It's hearty, delicious and will feed a crowd.
- 2 lbs ground lamb
- 500 ml chicken stock
- 1 medium onion – diced
- 1 medium carrot – diced
- 2 celery stalks – diced
- 1 large zucchini - diced
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms – roughly chopped
- 5-6 cloves garlic – peeled and roughly chopped
- ½ cup fresh parsley – finely chopped
- 3-4 med-sized Japanese yams – peeled and chopped into 1” cubes
- 1 tbsp Spicy Spanish Paprika
- 1 tbsp Smoked Spanish Paprika
- 1 tbsp Onion powder
- Salt and Pepper
- 1.5 tbsp Ghee
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with a pinch of salt and add-in the cubed yams - cook until fork tender (approx. 12-15 min). Using a slotted spoon, transfer the yams to a food processor along with 1.5 tbsp ghee and a pinch of salt. Purée until very smooth. Set aside.
- Heat a large Dutch Oven or heavy-bottomed stock-pot over medium-high heat. Drizzle ½ tbsp. avocado oil and add-in the ground lamb - cook until browned. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the lamb to a bowl and set aside.
- Lower the heat to med-low and discard all but 3 tbsp of the rendered fat in the pot. Add-in the onion, carrot, celery and mushrooms. Cook until the carrots have softened (approx. 12-15 min), stirring occasionally. Add-in the zucchini and garlic and cook an additional 5-7 minutes.
Add the spicy paprika, smoked paprika, onion powder, a pinch of salt and pepper, stir to coat and toast the spices for 60 seconds. Add the browned lamb back to the pot along with the chicken stock and chopped parsley. Bring everything to a steady simmer and allow the liquid to reduce by half.
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Meanwhile, spoon the meat mixture into a shallow baking dish or casserole and spread mashed yams overtop. Place the baking dish onto a baking sheet to catch any spill over from the juices. (Tip: To achieve a fancier look, spread the yams using a piping bag or heavy-duty zip-top bag fitted with a metal tip.)
- Bake at 400F approx. 20-25 minutes or until yams are golden brown.
- Remove Sheperd's Pie from oven and let cool 10-15 minutes before serving.