Thursday, March 16, 2006

We Irish are the Best!

I started prepping last night for the St. Patrick's Day dinner. I'm really excited! This is the main course, of course, but on Friday I will be making one of our favorite things from our trip to Ireland in 2002. But you'll have to wait to hear about that.

Last night as I made a quick dinner of fresh (store bought) tortellini and a quick chunky tomato sauce, I whipped up the base for Shepherd's Pie.

Shepherd's Pie
A Shepherd's Pie made with beef is properly called a Cottage Pie.

1 1/2 lbs ground beef
2 small onions, diced
2 carrots, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried sage
1/4 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 TB butter
2 TB flour
1/4 cup Guinness
1/4 cup dry red wine
1 cup beef broth
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Brown beef in a large heavy saucepot over medium heat. Allow to simmer until cooked throughout, about 5 to 10 minutes. Drain excess fat when cooked and add onion, carrots and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes until the onions are translucent and the carrots just tender, but still crisp. Add the herbs and salt and pepper.

Create a well in the middle of the pan by moving the meat mixture to the side. Add butter, allow to melt. Add the flour and stir to incorporate to the butter, allow to cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring the whole time.

Add the stout, wine, broth and Worcestershire sauce. Stir and bring to a simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.

THIS is where I stopped last night.

On Friday I will make the Champ Topping and bake the pie in the oven. Champ is a traditional Irish potato dish, where mashed potatoes are mixed with scallions. The cousin and more common dish is Colcannon, where the mashers are mixed with green cabbage (white cabbage is sometimes used, though less tradition) or kale.

Champ Topping
1 1/4 pounds potatoes, about 4 medium
4 TB butter
1 cup finely grated Irish white Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup scallions or chives, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Scrub and peel potatoes. Cut into large pieces. In a large pot, simmer potatoes in water until fork tender. Drain well and return pot to low heat to remove excess moisture. Stir in butter and whip, gradually adding milk, parsley and scallions or chives and cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

Spoon potato topping evenly over meat mixture, making irregular peaks with the back of a spoon. Alternatively, use a pastry bag and star tip to pipe potatoes over meat mixture. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until potatoes are golden brown and crusty on edges and mixture is heated throughout.

If desired, place casserole under broiler for 1 to 2 minutes to crisp potato topping. Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly to set, and serve from casserole dish.


I'm not sure which type of dish I will bake this in on Friday. I have about 6 cups of the meat mixture. I'm going to take six cups of water and test which will be the best. Which ever I go with will hold the six cups and leave enough of a lip to hold the Champ and keep it from sliding off the top. I'm hoping to use an acutally pie'll look better than a boring rectangular casserole. Stay tuned, I'll put up some pictures after the well as a recipe for our surprise!

Click here for a photo of the Shepherd's Pie!


Dancer in DC said...

This was RIDICULOUS it was so good. Or as Lady B would say - RIDIKEROUS.

What really makes this good is having the meat marinating in wine AND Guinness. It had such depth of flavor, which isn't always easy to get with ground beef.

Also, the scallions and cheese added something to the topping.

This was the best shepherd's pie ever. I would love to try it with lamb, but I'm content with the beef version. :)

ScottE. said...

This was insanely good. And so filling, I could hardly have a full serving.

As I said, I cooked the meat base a few days earlier, so I wasn't rushing to finish on Friday night. Well, what ended up happening is this...the whole mixture basically turned solid. So I put it in the skillet over low heat. As it warmed, the gravy melted back to make it all saucy, but it was a dry saucy...that wasn't good. So I poured 1/2 my Guinness I was drinking into the pan, covered it and let it simmer for another 10 minutes or so. The gravy was perfect, the flavor intensified and the whole thing had the perfect bubbly consistency.