St Patrick's Day is soon upon us! To celebrate the culture of the Irish, we have a traditional Irish meal for you. You will often find corned beef and cabbage to be a popular meal but we thought we'd give Shepherds Pie a try! This comfort food has origins in England and Ireland and was also referred to as 'Cottage Pie.' Many believe it originated as a way for poor Irish peasants to repurpose any leftover meat and vegetables into a hearty new meal. Mutton and potatoes were inexpensive and easily accessible to the Irish peasants in the 18th century so one can see how this would have been a staple in the Irish's lives.
Irish shepherds were in the business of herding sheep and therefore, they used lamb as their choice of meat for this traditional pie. Ground lean beef is a tasty substitute and is more accessible to us today. If you prefer to use lean ground beef, add butter for a bit more flavor but if you use lamb, skim any excess fat after cooking.
Serves 6 Preparation Time: 1 hour, 3o minutes Ingredients: 2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning 2 1/2 pounds (about 3 or 4 large) russet potatoes, peeled and quartered 6 tablespoons unsalted butter 1/2 cup whole milk 1 cup shredded aged white Cheddar Cheese Freshly ground black pepper Preparation: Peel and quarter 2 1/2 lbs russet potatoes with 2 tablespoons of salt. In a large pot, bring a gallon of water and boil for about 15 minute to 20 minutes, until tender. In a small saucepan, heat 6 tablespoons of butter and milk together until butter melts. Drain potatoes well and return to pot. Mash hot potatoes until smooth. Mix in the hot butter mixture, just until blended. Stir in the shredded Cheddar Cheese Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and set aside. Additional Ingredients: 1 yellow onion,diced small (about 1 1/4 cups). 2-3 carrots, peeled and diced (about 1 1/4 cups). 4 cloves garlic, minced 2-4 inch sprigs of fresh rosemary 1 1/2 lbs.of ground beef - if not using all beef use 3/4 pds. of beef and 3/4 pds. of lamb 1/2 cup tomato paste 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour 3/4 cup beef stock 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a large oven safe skillet with high sides or enameled cast iron braiser (at least 2 1/2 quart capacity) over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, garlic, thyme, and rosemary and cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until the onions are translucent and the carrots are just tender, about 10 minutes. Add the beef, and or lamb, and cook, breaking the meat up with a spoon, until it is no longer pink. At this point, you can drain off some of the excess fat if using lamb. Season the mixture to taste with salt and pepper. Add tomato paste and stir, cooking until it is well combined, another 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and cook. for 1 minute. Add the beef stock and cook, stirring, until the liquid has thickened slightly. Stir in the parsley and remove the thyme and rosemary stems. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Top the meat mixture with dollops of mashed potatoes and spread over the top of the meat mixture (or transfer the meat mixture to a 3-quart casserole and spread an even layer, and top with potatoes.) Bake the pie until the potatoes have begun to brown and the edges are bubbling, about 30 minutes. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.