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.
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.
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 dish...it'll look better than a boring rectangular casserole. Stay tuned, I'll put up some pictures after the fact...as well as a recipe for our surprise!
Click here for a photo of the Shepherd's Pie!