The shepherd’s pie hailing from England is typically made with leftover roasted meat, usually lamb and a top crust of mashed potatoes. The dish uses ingredients on-hand ingredients, so if potatoes are in short supply, a dried, non-sugary cereal can work in combination with other ingredients to provide a substitute for your crust.
1. Top Crust
Instead of a thick crust of mashed potatoes, a dried cereal can function like breadcrumbs to make a thinner, crispy crust. The cereal can be used in combination with actual breadcrumbs or other substitutes such as crackers, pretzels and corn chips. Mix enough ingredients to yield “crumbs,” combine them in a resealable bag with seasonings such as dried herbs, and crush the mixture with a rolling pin or in a food processor. Press the mixture on top of the pie filling, dot it with a few pats of butter -- cut into pieces -- and spread them evenly across the crust. Bake the pie until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly, about 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven.
2. Bottom Crust
Dried cereal can also be used to make a bottom crust for a twist on the traditional shepherd’s pie. Corn flakes are a good choice and can be seasoned before or after crushing. Crush dry corn flakes and mix them with melted butter. Press the cereal crumbs into your casserole dish and prebake the crust for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. The crust bakes a second time once you add your filling. Add a top crust to keep the pie filling moist.
3. In Combination
Dried cereal gives texture and crunch to the traditional mashed potato crust. Combine unsweetened cereal, such as crisped rice, with dried herbs if desired and sprinkle the mixture over your top crust of potatoes. Dot the crumbs with butter and bake.
4. Other Substitutions
Rich in vitamins and minerals, sweet potatoes can replace the mashed spuds on your shepherd’s pie. Because of their inherent sweetness, they pair well with dried cereals that have flavorings such as maple or cinnamon. You can also top a shepherd's pie with cauliflower for a low-calorie potato substitute. Boil the vegetable until tender, drain and mash it as you would potatoes, seasoning it with sour cream, garlic and chives. Spread the cauliflower over the pie filling and extend the baking time by around ten to fifteen minutes.
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