Shepherd’s Pie and a Guinness or Three

IrelandLike many people in the United States, Ireland is in my blood.  Not only for the entertaining and lively annual event where “everyone is Irish”, St. Patrick’s Day, I feel it rushing through my veins on a daily basis.  I have to confess though, I love this time of year when everyone celebrates the Emerald Isle.

I was shopping at the local grocer and couldn’t help but notice their giant Saint Patrick’s Day “cuisine” centerpiece. A corned beef brisket, potatoes and cabbage all neatly tucked in to one package of convenience. Apparently my local grocer doesn’t have a drop of Irish blood in those veins.

In these modern times, the usual selection of foods from the Western Hemisphere have been adopted in Ireland and area eaten alongside trad dishes. Common meals include pizza, curry, Chinese food, and lately, some West African dishes and some East European dishes have been making appearances, as ingredients for these and other cuisines have become more widely available.

Keeping traditions alive is important and one way of ensuring family faves will live on long after your gone is  to cook together, combining a mixture of old and new recipes. Involve the entire fam, tell stories to your children about your time in the kitchen with your ancestors (mother, grandmother, great grandmother) and regale tales at the dinner table to keep your loved ones fresh in your heart.

This week, we are celebrating Ireland and recipes new and old.

BBC Good Food
BBC Good Food

Shepherd’s Pie

  • 1 1/2 pounds lamb or beef, cubed or ground ( I prefer cubed )
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 carrots, grated or thinly sliced
  • 2 tblsp butter
  • 2 tblsp flour
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 tblsp Worcestershire sauce 
  • Approx 2 lbs potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 tblsp butter
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1 cup grated cheese ( your choice )

Preheat oven to 350

Add your potatoes to a large pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil for about 15 minutes or until fork tender.  Drain well.

While your potatoes are boiling, brown your lamb or beef in a dutch oven.  Drain off any excess fat. or dry fry (without adding oil) in a non-stick pan, until dry and crumbly.  Add onions, carrots and garlic until softened.  Add butter, stir until melted and slowly sprinkle the flour over meat and veggies.  Stir lightly to coat.  Cook approx 1 minute.   Deglaze pan with red wine, and beef broth.  Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium low.  Add Worcestershire sauce and simmer about 15 minutes, or until carrots are tender.   Add salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer until mixture has thickened.

Drain the potatoes, stir in cream and butter, mash until smooth.  Whipping to a very smooth consistency is a great option, but I love the lumps.   Add a bit more cream if necessary.  Stir in cheese, a sharp cheddar is my choice of the day and season with salt and pepper.

Grease a dish, shape and thickness your choice, a 9 x 13 is what I use, however, there are folks who will not use anything else than a 10″ pie plate.  Pour thickened meat mixture in to your dish  and spoon potatoes on top.  Bake at 350 for 20 – 30 minutes or until your potatoes are a delectable golden brown and the edges are bubbly.

Enjoy a velvety Guinness ( or three ) with your delicious Shepherds Pie.

The recipe was originally adapted from BBC Good Food, I gave it a tweak and a twist and made it a great family recipe.  Please follow the link to the original here.

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