Gluten-Free Shepherd’s Pie

Gluten-Free Shepherd’s Pie is a deeply flavourful homely recipe with a rich gravy, plenty of vegetables and a crisp buttery potato topping.

A baking dish of Gluten-Free Shepherd's Pie with a portion removed. A bowl of Shepherd's Pie and a bowl of mint sauce to the side

Welcome to the first in a new series featuring classic dinner recipes which have been de-glutened. A lot of traditional British recipes, especially the ones we grew up eating as a family rely at least somewhat on the presence of flour. Whether it’s the gravy on your Sunday roast, the béchamel sauce of your lasagne or even my Auntie Lil’s chicken curry, regular plain flour is always present in some way. Since becoming gluten-free many years ago I have learnt through trial and error the best way to continue making these recipes so there is no difference between the gluten-free versions and the ones from my childhood. First up on the agenda is one of our all-time classic family faves. Shepherd’s Pie.

A baking dish of Gluten-Free Shepherd’s Pie

What’s the difference between Shepherd’s Pie and Cottage Pie?

Both dishes refer to a red meat dish, often minced meat, cooked in a gravy with onions and often carrots and celery, topped with a mashed potato layer and baked in the oven. The term Cottage Pie was first mentioned in 1791 but Shepherd’s Pie did not really appear until 1854. Initially the two terms were interchangeable for the same dish but in the 20th century the two recipes were separated into their own identities. Cottage Pie became synonymous with versions made with minced beef whereas Shepherd’s Pie would more commonly be made with minced lamb.

Our family adores Shepherd’s Pie, it meets approval from all members including the baby and guarantees a clean plate from our picky pre-schooler. Luke and I love it too, especially served with hot buttered cabbage.

The Vegetables

Shepherd’s Pie is a simple and satisfying meal with lots of veggies in the main base of the pie along with the lamb mince. I love the taste and texture that the extra vegetables give to the base of the dish. The usual onions are present, along with carrots and celery. However, here we also include diced courgette as it goes so beautifully with the lamb.

A baking dish of Gluten-Free Shepherd's Pie with a portion removed. A bowl of Shepherd's Pie and a bowl of mint sauce to the side

How do you make Gluten-Free Shepherd’s Pie?

Sweet Rice Flour

The traditional version of Shepherd’s Pie is made using plain wheat flour to thicken the rich gravy which encases the meat and vegetables at the base of the pie. Here we are switching it out for sweet rice flour. The sticky properties of this starchy flour absorb the cooking oil and the added stock for a beautifully smooth and silky sauce which is indistinguishable from wheat flour gravy. The only difference is the colour. The sweet rice flour gravy is much lighter than its wheat counterpart. To this end we add coconut aminos which deepens the colour of the gravy naturally whilst also providing the perfect amount of seasoning.

Fresh Stock

One of the other key ingredients in this Gluten-Free Shepherd’s Pie is the use of fresh stock to make the most umami empowered gravy. It makes all the difference, providing tremendous depth of flavour and I would seriously advise against the stock cube if possible. I make homemade chicken stock every other Sunday with the bones of our Roast Chicken so I always have it to hand for my everyday cooking. It is possibly the most invaluable ingredient in my kitchen. If you don’t have any homemade stock then check to see if your butcher supplies it, otherwise do use the best store bought fresh stock you can find.

A bowl of Gluten-Free Shepherds Pie

Secret Ingredient

Finally do you want to know my secret ingredient for Shepherd’s Pie? It’s definitely not something I would add to Cottage Pie, but it lifts the whole meal up a notch, giving it such a special flavour. Would you like to know?

It’s mint sauce! Once you try it you will never make your Shepherd’s Pie without it.

Mint sauce is traditionally served as part of the Great British roast dinner alongside spring lamb. It’s an essential condiment of our larder and is an absolutely perfect addition to our Shepherd’s Pie. The three main ingredients of mint sauce are mint, white wine vinegar and sugar so it’s pretty easy to make your own. However, I usually use shop bought. It’s worth checking the label of your mint sauce though as many contain xanthan gum which is something I try to steer clear of in my kitchen. There are brands without though, so just double check.

The Mashed Potato

A Shepherd’s Pie wouldn’t be the same without delicious buttery mash blanketing the whole affair. I am quite particular about my mashed potato and although I don’t go the whole Joel Robuchon route which is half potato/half butter, this recipe certainly does not skimp on the butter or the seasoning. A good amount of butter is necessary for the perfectly crisp golden top on your Shepherd’s Pie. I also add a splash of stock in the mash to make the potatoes smooth, creamy and rich. You could also use milk.

Pro Tips To Avoid Gluey Mash

  • When adding your butter and liquid to the cooked potatoes it’s imperative to warm them up first and tip your potatoes into the add-ins, not the other way around. We want to avoid gluey or lumpy mash at all costs and this way makes sure we achieve neither.
  • To mash the potatoes you can use a hand masher or a potato ricer, but never use the food processor or the blender as you’ll run the risk again of gluey mash. Potatoes can be decidedly tricky when they want to be.

An empty bowl of Gluten-Free Shepherd's Pie

If you make this Gluten-Free Shepherd’s Pie then please leave a comment below and/or give the recipe a rating. If you then go on to use this recipe as a launch pad for your own baking creation then I’d also love it if you’d share it and tag me on Instagram. It is so lovely for me to see your versions and variations of my recipes.

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A baking dish of Gluten-Free Shepherd's Pie with a portion removed. A bowl of Shepherd's Pie and a bowl of mint sauce to the side

Gluten-Free Shepherd's Pie

Gluten-Free Shepherd’s Pie is a deeply flavourful homely recipe with a rich gravy, plenty of vegetables and a crisp buttery potato topping.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: British
Keyword: how to make gluten-free shepherd's pie
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 567kcal
Author: Georgina Hartley

Ingredients

  • 800 g red potatoes peeled and quartered
  • 100 g unsalted butter
  • 100 ml fresh stock I use chicken
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion peeled and finely diced
  • 2 carrots peeled and finely diced
  • 2 celery sticks finely diced
  • 1 courgette finely diced
  • 600 g lamb mince
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 3 tablespoons sweet rice flour
  • 200 ml fresh stock I use chicken
  • 1 tablespoon coconut aminos
  • 1 tablespoon mint sauce
  • ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper

Instructions

  • Boil a large saucepan of water and add the potatoes. Cook for 20 minutes or until the potatoes break apart when you touch them with the tip of a knife. Drain the potatoes from the water.
  • Add the butter, stock, salt and pepper to the now empty saucepan and heat gently until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat.
  • Tip the cooked potatoes back into the saucepan and mash well until the potatoes are creamy. Set aside whilst you prepare the lamb mince.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 200 °C/180°C fan assisted/gas mark 5.
  • Heat the olive oil in a wide bottomed saucepan then add the onion, carrots, celery and courgette. Cook for about 10 minutes until the vegetables have softened.
  • Add the lamb mince, bay and thyme leaves, stirring occasionally until the lamb has browned.
  • Add the sweet rice flour to the pan, mixing in well to absorb the fat. If there is any excess oil then remove it with a spoon.
  • Pour in the stock and stir until a thick gravy has formed.
  • Add the coconut aminos and mint sauce, stirring through. Cook for 5-10 minutes so all the flavours are well combined.
  • Remove the lamb mince from the heat then spoon into an ovenproof baking dish into an even layer.
  • Spoon the mashed potato over the top until it completely covers the lamb mince, then create light furrows in the potato by using the back of a fork.
  • Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until the potato is golden.

Nutrition

Calories: 567kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 39g | Saturated Fat: 19g | Cholesterol: 108mg | Sodium: 555mg | Potassium: 1005mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 80.5% | Vitamin C: 25.4% | Calcium: 5.2% | Iron: 15.9%

SHOP THE RECIPE

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Simple Salmon Fishcakes

These Simple Salmon Fishcakes were one of my Nan’s most celebrated recipes. Home comfort cooking at its best.

Simple Salmon Fishcakes

This recipe was originally published on the blog in 2014. I have modified it to a gluten-free recipe and included new photos.

This pregnancy I was a little more on the ball as regards making freezer meals for the first few weeks of Beau’s life. I always had intended to do the same for Cole but I was little prepared for quite how much of an overwhelming time having a newborn would be and I just assumed I would be fine making my own simple meals everyday. Now with a toddler, a newborn and a husband who is back at work I am so grateful to have carved out some time for meal prepping a couple of months ago and I am reaping the rewards now.

One of the pre-requisites for my freezer meals was an emphasis on comfort food and real homely cooking. The first meal I craved after coming home from the hospital was a lasagne which is my mum’s signature dish. It reminds me of family and felt like the perfect meal to welcome our new bundle of joy home with. I also have stashed in the freezer a Shepherd’s Pie, these Barbecue Spare Ribs and a batch of my late grandmother’s Simple Salmon Fishcakes.

Simple Salmon Fishcakes

Now, my Nan wasn’t a great cook, she was very much a child of rations, plain food and making do, but there are a few things in her repertoire which I crave as an adult and get such a childish pleasure from. Her trifle was in a class of its own, made from Bird’s custard, tinned fruit puree and a packet of sponge fingers, but it couldn’t be bettered. Her beef stew consisted of beef simply stewed with potato and carrots until it had boiled down to almost a thickened soup, but its comfort factor cannot be surpassed. It was her salmon fishcakes though which our family has always considered her culinary masterpiece.

When we needed a bit of cheering up, perhaps we’d had a long week at school, it would perk us up no end when we’d get home from school on a Saturday lunchtime (yes, we went to school on Saturdays, don’t ask) and Mum would say that Nan had made us some fishcakes for a treat. There was no better reward for double maths, double chemistry on a Saturday (seriously that was the weekend lesson plan, sadists ran our school) and we could easily eat the whole plateful she had made us to last the weekend in a single sitting.

Simple Salmon Fishcakes

These are probably the most simple salmon fishcakes you will come across and they have a very special and secret ingredient, tinned salmon. When I first found out that was how she made them I was taken aback. It just seemed so wrong. But really the taste is unique, and despite how much I love a good fresh salmon fishcake, Nan’s are imbued with a more intensely sweet flavour which is entirely different. And to be honest, there isn’t a whole lot of salmon in these anyway. These fishcakes are more like mashed potato cakes kissed with a sweet blush of salmon. However that salmon flavour perfumes the whole cake.

When I asked Nan once how she made them she just said mashed potato and tinned salmon. That was her recipe and really all you needed to know in her eyes. Now, I’ve taken a liberty or two with my Nan’s recipe as I have added a few snipped parsley leaves, just because I couldn’t resist. I also included a generous amount of ground white pepper for a bit more of a kick and salt, which I know Nan definitely wouldn’t have used. She didn’t really buy into seasoning. Plus these days I have been making my Simple Salmon Fishcakes gluten-free and to be honest there is no discernable taste difference from the original version. I just swapped out the plain wheat flour for Doves Farm plain gluten-free flour and whizzed up a loaf of good gluten-free bread in the food processor to make the breadcrumbs. It made a huge amount so I have stashed the leftover breadcrumbs in the freezer for future meals. So useful and you can use the breadcrumbs straight from frozen.

Simple Salmon Fishcakes

The way to serve Nan’s fishcakes is and always will be non-negotiable, with brown sauce. It is in fact the only time I will ever eat brown sauce as if I’m pressed I’m not sure I really like it. However, here, when the crunchy crumbed shell of the fishcake which encases the sweetly soft interior is paired with the deep tang of the brown sauce the result is sublime. It’s the only thing in the whole world I feel like eating at the moment. Do note though that a lot of brown sauces are not gluten-free due to the malt vinegar and sometimes rye flour which is used. I prefer to make my own (you must remind me to post the recipe!) but otherwise Tesco’s own brand is gluten-free.

Simple Salmon Fishcakes

These Simple Salmon Fishcakes were one of my Nan’s most celebrated recipes. Home comfort cooking at its best.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time3 hrs 50 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: British
Keyword: salmon fishcake recipe, salmon fishcakes, simple salmon fishcakes
Servings: 6 Fishcakes
Calories: 397kcal
Author: Georgina Hartley

Ingredients

  • 800 g potatoes
  • 75 g salted butter at room temperature
  • ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 170 g wild skinless and boneless red salmon 1 tin
  • 2 tablespoons parsley leaves finely chopped
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 100 g gluten-free breadcrumbs
  • 75 g gluten-free plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions

  • Peel and quarter the potatoes then place in a large pan of salted boiling water.
  • Bring the potatoes back to the boil then simmer for 20 minutes until the potatoes are soft.
  • Drain the potatoes, then add them back into the pan with the butter. Add the white pepper then mash until the potato is incredibly smooth.*
  • Tip the mashed potato into a bowl and leave to cool for an hour then cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours until the potato is cold.
  • Drain the salmon and mix into the cold potato and the parsley leaves with a fork until evenly dispersed.
  • Shape the fishcakes into patties of equal weight, about 125g, then place on a plate and put back in the fridge to settle for half an hour.
  • Arrange the flour, beaten egg and breadcrumbs into three separate bowls, then remove the fishcakes from the fridge and coat each fishcake; first with a light dusting of flour, then with the egg, then the breadcrumbs.
  • Pour the olive oil into a wide heavy based saucepan and heat until sizzling. Then turn the heat down to low.
  • Shallow fry the fishcakes in two batches, 5 minutes on each side, spooning some of the oil up the sides of the fishcakes to ensure they are golden all over, then place on kitchen towel to absorb the excess oil.
  • Serve the fishcakes with a light salad and plenty of brown sauce.
  • These fishcakes freeze very well so make a huge stash for emergencies and re-heat in the oven.

Notes

*If you use leftover mashed potato then these fishcakes come together in a snap. If you’re making the mashed potato especially for the fishcakes then you must wait for them to cool completely in the fridge as warm potato will fall apart when you’re shaping the fishcakes.
*I actually use a potato ricer for mashing my potatoes which ensures lump free and smooth mash without any gummy texture. To achieve this I place the salted butter into the saucepan and pass the potato through the potato ricer into the pan of butter, then give a jolly good stir into the butter once all the potato has been riced.

Nutrition

Calories: 397kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 77mg | Sodium: 415mg | Potassium: 662mg | Fiber: 5g | Vitamin A: 9.7% | Vitamin C: 20.6% | Calcium: 13.6% | Iron: 28.9%

Garbage Salad

Garbage Salad is made at the end of the week to use up all the odds and ends from the fridge, supplemented by fridge staples such as salami and halloumi. No extra shopping required.

Garbage Salad

Garbage Salad has revolutionised the way I look at my fridge at the end of the week. Instead of gazing bleakly into the abyss claiming that there’s nothing for supper but the dog ends of the week’s eating, I can conjure up a delicious and satisfying salad in moments that everyone in the family will eat and enjoy.

Garbage Salad

Garbage Salad began life for me when I was a wee one and my mum was trying to get me to eat more veg. She would simply cut up as much salad veg as she could, stick it in a bowl with tuna, grated cheese, salad cream, crumble crisps into it and call it Mish Mash. I would devour it. I remember clearly sitting on the kitchen counter next to her watching her prepare it whilst sneaking bits of salad and crisps.

Garbage Salad

So I started making the same thing for Cole, with slight variations. Gone is the salad cream as I abhor it in adulthood, I don’t bother with the crisps either as the salad is just as good without, although don’t tell Cole that. What I have realised though is that he gets the majority of his salad in whilst I’m actually preparing it and it’s an activity in itself. He helps make it, eats a load of healthy salad and dinner is done in the bargain. I’m telling you the child can eat his weight in yellow pepper and I’m all for it.

Garbage Salad

What I didn’t expect since I started making it for Cole is how much nostalgia the meal would bring back and then actually how delicious it is. I’ve started making it for my lunches when Cole is at nursery and I’m not getting the slightest bit bored of it. The great thing is that the salad varies every time I make it as it depends on whatever odds and ends we’ve got hanging around the fridge. I used salami and halloumi in this particular recipe as I always keep a good supply of both in for emergency meals since they last an age unopened. If I don’t want salami or halloumi then I substitute with tuna and cheddar. Or maybe bacon and feta. The dressing rarely changes since a bit of mayo, mustard and olive oil takes seconds to prepare but the other week I had some leftover Caesar salad dressing in so I used that instead and it revolutionised the meal once again.

So this recipe isn’t so much a recipe but an inspiration for you to clear out your fridge at the end of the week, before the new shop arrives and make an amazing chopped salad. It makes you feel ultra organised, very healthy and is pretty damn delicious too.

Garbage Salad

Garbage Salad

Garbage Salad is made at the end of the week to use up all the odds and ends from the fridge, supplemented by fridge staples such as salami and halloumi. No extra shopping required.
Prep Time15 mins
Total Time15 mins
Course: Salad
Cuisine: British
Keyword: garbage salad, garbage salad recipe, how to make garbage salad
Servings: 2 people
Calories: 853kcal
Author: Georgina Hartley

Ingredients

  • 180 g halloumi sliced and grilled
  • 100 g salami cubed
  • ½ avocado diced
  • ½ little gem lettuce chopped finely
  • ¼ cucumber halved, seeds removed and sliced
  • Handful of cherry tomatoes diced finely
  • 1 celery stick diced
  • 3 tablespoons sweetcorn
  • ¼ red pepper diced
  • ¼ yellow pepper diced
  • 2 tablespoons olives sliced
  • small handful parsley leaves finely chopped

Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon American yellow mustard
  • Pinch of salt and pepper

Instructions

  • Make the salad by tossing all the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.
  • Whisk the dressing ingredients together then pour over the salad, mixing well with salad forks.

Nutrition

Calories: 853kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 72g | Saturated Fat: 26g | Cholesterol: 45mg | Sodium: 2472mg | Potassium: 784mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 27.2% | Vitamin C: 69.7% | Calcium: 94.2% | Iron: 8.8%

Chicken Fajita Wild Rice Soup

Chicken Fajita Wild Rice Soup is the perfect mid-week dinner. Packed with flavour, fresh, comforting and fully satisfying.

I love it when a quick midweek meal suddenly reveals itself to be an absolute stunner out of nowhere. When I’m slamming ingredients left and right into a saucepan, keen to get dinner on the table in under twenty minutes then I can’t always be bothered to taste here, adjust for seasoning there. The salt and pepper get tossed into the pot mercilessly so it’s anyone’s guess on whether I have got the balance right until we’re tucking in on the sofa.

I think it adds to the excitement of dinner time; will I have got a bit heavy handed with the cumin again? Or perhaps a little under handed with the chilli? Almost certainly. Once the first few bites are underway Luke usually has to get back up to get something, salt, tabasco, sriracha; usually salt. I am obstinate that I got it right first time so will rarely return to the kitchen, oh yes and I’m lazy.

So when I got everything bang on last Wednesday we were all pretty shocked. I was perhaps a little offended that Luke felt the need to repeat more than once how actually this was a really delicious dinner and I felt he really hammed up the yummy noises. I pride myself on being a bit of a cook it so happens and this didn’t particularly fill me with confidence about my usual offerings. I begrudgingly agreed though, this Chicken Fajjita and Wild Rice Soup one was definitely a keeper and as I was on a roll I made it the next couple of nights for good measure, but I didn’t get such resounding applause the second or third times and the yummy noises definitely receeded. Spoilsport.

I do not underestimate the foundation of a really good stock in this (or any) soup and I hit the motherload when I found the last of the ham stock lurking at the back of the freezer from Christmas. However, if you can only get your hands on some supermarket standby or a stock cube then the smoky triumvirate of chipotle, smoked garlic powder and sweet paprika will mean you don’t miss out too much.

The beauty of this soup was that I basically just made chicken fajitas, frying off a load of onions, peppers and smoky spiced chicken then added stock and a mix of basmati and wild rice. Really the whole thing was a charmed idea from the off. However I will not lie to you, this soup is pretty much all about the toppings and I think it’s important to load your finished soup up with all the good stuff you would normally put on your fajitas. Let that bowl overflow my friend, there is no judgement here.

We are looking for textures and flavours in our toppings and since my fridge is always stocked with coriander, avocado, limes and sour cream, as I crave fajitas often, there was no question that they would insist on getting involved. As luck would have it I am having a bit of a moment with pumpkin seeds so they got shovelled on top and it turned out they added a much needed crunch to the proceedings. Salty sharp feta also turned out to be perfection since it is a pretty good substitution for proper authentic Mexican cheese and it just so happened I got some in this week. If not, cheddar would have sufficed.

I feel like the whole dinner was kismet but even if you don’t have any of the ingredients to hand at all then I urge you to put them on your next shopping list as this soup is so good that it’s definitely worth planning for.

Chicken Fajita Wild Rice Soup

A flavour packed soup, fresh, comforting and fully satisfying.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: chicken fajita wild rice soup, chicken fajita wild rice soup recipe
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 308kcal
Author: Georgina Hartley

Ingredients

  • 450 g chicken breast cubed
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle in adobo
  • 1 teaspoon smoked garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion sliced finely
  • ½ red pepper sliced finely
  • ½ yellow pepper sliced finely
  • ½ green pepper sliced finely
  • 100 g sweetcorn kernals
  • Juice of ½ orange
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 200 g wild and basmati rice mix cooked
  • Optional Toppings: crumbled feta,sour cream, sliced avocado, pumpkin seeds, fresh coriander

Instructions

  • Combine the chipotle, garlic powder, paprika, cumin and coriander together then rub into the cubed chicken. Set aside whilst you get the soup started.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large wide bottomed saucepan then when hot add the onion and peppers and gently fry for about 15 minutes until softened and just starting to catch.
  • Add the chicken and the sweetcorn and mix in.
  • Pour over the orange juice, lime juice and the stock and bring everything back up the boil. Once it’s there, turn down to simmer for about 15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
  • Stir in the cooked rice then divide between the bowls, topping up with as many accoutrements as your bowls can handle.

Nutrition

Calories: 308kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 72mg | Sodium: 151mg | Potassium: 638mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 19.2% | Vitamin C: 76.4% | Calcium: 1.7% | Iron: 6.3%

Lemon, Honey and Sesame Chicken

Lemon, Honey and Sesame Chicken is deliciously tender with a sticky crunchy coating. A quick weeknight staple which is a million times better than a takeaway.

Lemon, Honey and Sesame Chicken

Valentines Day means Chinese to us. There have only been a couple of times where we have bothered booking somewhere smart and fancy, but set menus, surrounded by other couples don’t really signify romance to me. On Valentines Day you will either find us holed up in Chinatown where you can always get a table, a huge dinner and unobtrusive service or at home cooking a banquet together where the emphasis is not on the end result but the act of cooking as a couple.

Lemon, Honey and Sesame Chicken

In fact one of my most memorable Valentines nights was when we decided to cook ourselves a night out in Chinatown. We mixed over-the-top cocktails that insisted upon using every alcoholic drink in our cabinet and was tantalisingly aqua marine with umbrellas and glace cherries. We drank these far too quickly whilst pouring over Chinese cookbooks and making a royal mess as well as sesame prawn toasts, char siu pork, egg fried rice and broccoli in oyster sauce. We finished with the requisite deep fried bananas, which always ensures a blistered tongue, and vanilla ice cream which melted as soon as it hit the bananas.

Lemon, Honey and Sesame Chicken

Spending hours in the kitchen isn’t as fun as it normally is at the moment with my increasing bump getting in the way of the kitchen counter, my lower back threatening to give out at any minute and bending down to get my bottom kitchen cabinets requiring about five minutes of recuperation time. So, we need to make haste with our Valentines preparations and there is no quicker and more delicious Chinese dish to make at home than this Lemon, Honey and Sesame Chicken. It’s a meal that I can happily make for the two of us, or if Luke is away then just me on my lonesome, it really is that little bother. Not to mention it tastes a million times better than the bland and greasy MSG filled takeaway at the end of the phone.

Lemon, Honey and Sesame Chicken

Lemon, Honey and Sesame Chicken

Lemon, Honey and Sesame Chicken is deliciously tender with a sticky crunchy coating. A quick weeknight staple which is a million times better than a takeaway.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: British
Keyword: lemon honey sesame chicken, lemon honey sesame chicken recipe
Servings: 4 people (or 2 with plenty of yummy leftovers so you can have cold Chinese the next morning)
Calories: 413kcal
Author: Georgina Hartley

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless chicken thighs with skin diced (or 3 chicken breasts)
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons cornflour
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon coconut aminos* or tamari
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds

Instructions

  • Place the cornflour, five-spice, garlic powder, zest of the lemon and salt in a bowl and whisk together until evenly mixed.
  • Toss the diced chicken into the cornflour mixture until thoroughly coated.
  • Heat up the coconut oil in a large wide bottomed saucepan or wok until hot then add the chicken, cooking on a medium to hot temperature until crispy and cooked through.
  • Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
  • Whisk the honey, coconut aminos and juice from half of the lemon together until combined then pour into the pan. Bubble up for a minute then add the chicken back in along with the sesame seeds and cook for a further minute until piping hot.
  • Serve with rice stir-fried with beansprouts, spring onions and extra coconut aminos drizzled over.

Notes

*coconut aminos is a gluten-free and soy-free alternative to soy sauce. You can use soy sauce or tamari if you are not gluten-free

Nutrition

Calories: 413kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 111mg | Sodium: 465mg | Potassium: 311mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 1.8% | Vitamin C: 17.6% | Calcium: 8.1% | Iron: 12%

SHOP THE RECIPE

Coconut aminos is a larder staple for me which is a gluten-free and soy-free alternative to soy sauce. I personally prefer the taste of coconut aminos to tamari (which is gluten-free but does contain soy) but it is a little pricier. The brand of coconut aminos I love is Cocofina Organic Coconut Amino – Alternative to Soy Sauce 250ml which has a delicious flavour and is what I used in this recipe.

Some of the links above are affiliate links so if you decide to buy your flour using the link then I will get a small commission from Amazon at no cost to you. To learn more about how the data processing works when using these Amazon affiliate links then please visit my privacy policy page.

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These Pork Crackling, Lemon and Fennel Swedish Meatballs are deliciously creamy and cosy, best served with a generous helping of mash and a mound of greens.

Pork Crackling, Lemon and Fennel Swedish Meatballs in a bowl

The most important ingredient in these meatballs is the addition of pork crackling. I’m sure that I read somewhere that this is how a famous chef makes his meatballs taste so good but I can’t find any residual reference of that so I might have just made it up. Nevertheless it adds texture, flavour and fat to these meatballs which are wonderfully succulent, meaty, fresh with lemon and bright with fennel. The inclusion of the crackling also eschews the need for any breadcrumbs so you have gluten-free meatballs without really trying. You simply must save some crisp crackling for sprinkling over the top as well for added umami crunch.

For this recipe you can go the long route and make your own crackling, as the method suggests below. However, if you want a bit of a shortcut in the recipe then feel free to buy the pork crackling in. Make sure it’s the really good stuff though and check the ingredients to make sure there’s no gluten involved.

I ummed and ahhed over how to serve my meatballs; in a sauce not in a sauce. Then once I had decided on that yes, a sauce was absolutely necessary, I opted for the creamy delights of a Swedish meatball sauce. It was probably inspired by our trip to Ikea at the weekend where you can’t help but be deluged with images of Swedish meatballs as you are wandering, rather painfully, around the labyrinthine warehouse. Inevitably I only went to buy candles and napkins and I think we ended up in this other dimension for about two or three hours. Nothing like wasting your weekend away.

These Pork Crackling, Lemon and Fennel Swedish Meatballs are deliciously creamy and cosy, best served with a generous helping of mash and a mound of greens.

Swedish Meatballs are pure comfort food. A simple gravy, imbued with the intense flavour of good stock, a bit of redcurrant (or cranberry) jelly for sweetness and then finished off with the creamy tang of crème fraiche. The gravy compliments the unctuous meatballs perfectly. They have so much flavour packed in that I just wanted the gravy to nest the meatballs not create a swimming pool for them, so don’t expect more than a couple of spoonfuls of sauce per serving.

These meatballs are rich so I found that just to accompany them with a bowl of steamed greens and carrots was plenty but by all means I can only imagine the possibilities if you would like to serve these with a prodigious mound of mashed potato.

Pork Crackling, Lemon and Fennel Swedish Meatballs in a bowl

Today this recipe seems a perfect fit for the wintry weather we are experiencing and I can think of nothing better than sitting down cosily later with a bowl of hot creamy meatballs whilst gazing upon the blanket of snow currently covering North London.

Pork Crackling, Lemon and Fennel Swedish Meatballs

These Pork Crackling, Lemon and Fennel Swedish Meatballs are deliciously creamy and cosy, best served with a generous helping of mash and a mound of greens.
Prep Time2 d 20 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time2 d 35 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Swedish
Keyword: lemon fennel swedish meatballs, pork crackling lemon fennel swedish meatballs, swedish metball recipe
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 712kcal
Author: Georgina Hartley

Ingredients

Homemade Pork Crackling

  • 300 g pork skin or organic free range pork scratchings

Meatballs

  • 60 g ground almonds or almond pulp from making homemade almond milk
  • 60 ml milk or water or veg stock
  • 1 onion finely diced
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 500 g pork mince
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds crushed
  • Zest ½ lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 25 g parsley leaves finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons sweet rice flour
  • 450 ml chicken stock
  • ½ teaspoon redcurrant jelly or cranberry jelly
  • 150 ml crème fraiche

Instructions

Homemade Pork Crackling

  • Day 1:
  • If you are making your own pork crackling then the day before you want to eat your meatballs, prepare your pork skin by rubbing all over with plenty of salt and pepper.
  • Place the skin in a wide saucepan and just cover with water. Bring to a gentle boil then put the lid on a leave to simmer for about an hour and a half.
  • Remove the pork skin from the water and pat dry. Leave to cool before refrigerating overnight to completely chill.
  • Day 2:
  • Slice the pork skin into strips. Then heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a wide bottomed saucepan and when hot, place the pork skin into it. As the skin turns into crackling it will spit a lot so clear the sides of anything you don’t want covered in oil and stand back. Fry for about 10 minutes on the first side and 3-4 minutes on the other side. Remove with a slotted spoon and leave to cool. Then chop finely. Reserve the fat in the pan for making the meatballs.

Meatballs

  • Mix the ground almonds with the whole milk then cover and refrigerate overnight. If you are using almond pulp then you do not need to do this step.
  • Place the diced onions in a medium saucepan with the butter and cook on a very low heat for about 20 minutes to half an hour until the onions are soft, golden and melting. Leave to chill in the fridge until completely cool.
  • Mix the pork mince in a large bowl with the soaked almonds, caramelised onions, fennel seeds, lemon zest, garlic, parsley, thyme, about two-thirds of the pork crackling and an egg. Season then mix thoroughly with your hands until completely combined.
  • Shape into balls, about 50g each, and heat the pan with either 2 tablespoons of the reserved pork fat or olive oil. When hot, drop your meatballs into the pan and cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side.
  • Remove the meatballs and set aside. Remove most of the fat from the pan, leaving about 2 tablespoons.
  • Add the sweet rice flour on a low heat, stirring into the fat.
  • Slowly add the stock, whisking into the roux until it’s all combined. Keep whisking as the sauce begins to bubble. Taste for seasoning.
  • Add the redcurrant jelly and whisk through. Then add the crème fraiche and whisk into the sauce so it becomes thinner and smoother. Again, taste for seasoning.
  • Place the meatballs back into the pan and coat thoroughly with the sauce. Cook for about 5-10 minutes until they are piping hot then remove from the heat.
  • Serve the meatballs with the gravy and plenty of parsley and the rest of the pork crackling sprinkled over the top.

Nutrition

Calories: 712kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 51g | Fat: 51g | Saturated Fat: 20g | Cholesterol: 176mg | Sodium: 1113mg | Potassium: 410mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 17.1% | Vitamin C: 10.8% | Calcium: 9.7% | Iron: 12.6%