While I love putting my creativity to work when St. Patrick’s Day rolls around, and try to whip up some fabulous green-hued, minty, and spiked concoctions for the festivities, I really love spending time reading about and trying traditional Irish foods. Shepherd’s pie has been at the top of my to-try list for quite awhile now, and my interest spiked when I saw a version listed as the “best ever” in my Country Cooking of Ireland cookbook. How can you argue with best-ever? More to the point, how can you argue with anything that’s topped with mashed potatoes?
Historically, shepherd’s pie (or cottage pie, as it is also sometimes referred), was any type of dish that used leftover roasted meat and was topped with mashed potatoes. A lot of versions use something similar to stew as the filling, while others use a ground meat of some sort. Almost all recipes call for either beef or lamb; since my Chief Culinary Consultant is a huge lamb lover, and that’s what the “best ever” recipe called for, I thought it would be a winner at our house. And it was, indeed.
A simple mixture of ground lamb and finely diced onions and carrots are simmered together with tomato paste, Dijon mustard and a beef or chicken stock, then topped with my favorite mashed potatoes, and baked until golden brown. If you prefer beef over lamb, I think you could make that substitution without an issue. This is comfort food at its finest, and it’s perfect for this still-brisk time of year.
Do you have a favorite traditional Irish dish? I’d love to try more!
One year ago: Guinness Beef Stew and Grasshopper Pie
Two years ago: Guinness Chocolate Cake with Baileys Irish Cream Cheese Frosting and Grasshopper Mint Chocolate Bark
Three years ago: Guinness, Whiskey and Irish Cream Cupcakes
Five years ago: Sour Cream Coffee Cake
An easy, traditional shepherd's pie recipe made of ground lamb and topped with mashed potatoes.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large sweet onion, finely chopped
1½ carrots, finely chopped
1½ pounds ground lamb
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 cup beef, lamb or chicken stock, warmed
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 recipe Perfect Mashed Potatoes (or 4 cups prepared mashed potatoes)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until soft but not browned.
3. Increase the heat to high, add the lamb, and cook until it is well-browned. Stir in the tomato paste and mustard, then add the stock. Reduce the heat to low, season with salt and pepper, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the stock is mostly (but not completely) evaporated.
4. Transfer the meat mixture to a 1½-quart casserole dish. Cover with the mashed potatoes. Brush the top of the mashed potatoes with the melted butter. Bake for 50 minutes, or until evenly browned on top. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.