Thursday, March 11, 2010

Shepherd's Pie

In case you missed all the green cookies and candies or the kitschy shamrock headbands and tiaras in your local CVS or grocery store, I thought you should know that St. Patrick's Day is coming up. Huzzah! As a tribute, this month I'm going to tackle an assortment of traditional favorites, such as shepherd's pie, bread pudding (as if you didn't see that coming), corned beef and cabbage, and more!

If you were to ask Mom her thoughts on Irish cuisine, she would probably tell you the term is an oxymoron or that Irish food is more functional than enjoyable. Granted, this is a woman who doesn't see the restorative powers of a warm bowl of gooey macaroni and cheese, either. Dad, on the other hand, knowing the healing influence of comfort food, is a big believer in the meat and potatoes philosophy. In making this recipe I tried for the best of both worlds. I added a couple of zippy touches, but still got to devour a traditional and satisfying success.

Shepherd's Pie 
(adapted from this Cookie recipe on Epicurious)

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 pound ground lamb
1 cup beef broth
1 tbsp Worcestershire
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 cup frozen peas
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 - 3/4 cup whole milk
salt and pepper to taste


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat oil in large skillet or medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, garlic and lamb; cook until browned, about 8 - 10 minutes. Drain the grease. Return to heat, add broth, Worcestershire, tomato paste, parsely and rosemary. Simmer for about 10 minutes, until the sauce begins to thicken. Add peas.  Remove from heat and transfer meat mixture to a 2-quart baking dish.

2. Meanwhile, in a large pot, bring the potatoes to a boil in salted water. Boil until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and remove from heat. Add butter and begin to mash. Add milk by 1/4 cupfuls and continue to mash until potatoes are desired smoothness. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon mashed potatoes over meat mixture and spread evenly.

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes until the top of potatoes are an appetizing light brown.

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