Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Patricks Day

I love Irish food (there's my good ole Irish roots for ya!). So I've kind of murdered a few recipes to make my own Shepard's Pie version, that is pretty dang good. I've even made the meat part a day ahead and it works pretty well!
 not necessarily pretty, but dang tasty!

For the meat filling:

  • 2 lb. lamb, cut into bite sized pieces (could also use beef if you prefer, both tastes good--just adjust the cooking time a little for beef)
  • 1 lb. mushrooms (you can get fancy, or not), roughly cut (not too thin)
  • 1 medium sweet onion
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup of peas
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. ground allspice 
  • 1 tsp rosemary (I love rosemary, you can use less if you want)
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 beer (preferably Guinness, but just make it dark--aka you can't see through it)
  • 1 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 1/4 c Parmesan cheese (we use a lot, but that's us)

For the potato top:

  • 3 potatoes, 1 1/2 lb. total
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives (I hate chives, but it's in all recipes. I omitted, do as you like)


To make the filling, in a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, pepper, and half of the allspice and rosemary. Add the lamb and toss to coat evenly.

In a large cast iron skillet (if you have one with a lid, it's easier but I don't) over medium-high heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the lamb and brown. Transfer to a plate. Add the remaining 1 Tbs. oil to the pan. Add the carrots, cook for about 5 minutes, then add the onions and cook until soft. Sprinkle with a little sugar, cook for about 3 minutes until they caramelize. Add mushrooms and sauté until browned, about 6 minutes. Add tomato paste, and any remaining flour from the lamb bowl. Add beer and bring to a boil for about 3 minutes. Add broth, remaining herbs (including bay leaf), and boil.  Reduce heat, add lamb, and simmer covered on medium-low for about 45 minutes (until lamb is done). 

Uncover and simmer until the juices thicken, about 2 minutes. Note: If you have a lot of liquid, remove all the meat and vegi's you can into the dish, wisk in a few tablespoons of flour until it thickens, then add over the filling. Remove bay leaf, add the pea's and transfer the filling to a lightly greased dish (I have a weird shaped oval dish, mine never fits in a pie plate).

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

To make the potato top, steam the potatoes (basically make your own favorite mashed potatoes if you have some). Transfer the potatoes to a large bowl. Add the milk, butter, any seasonings you like, and pepper. Mash well and stir in half of the chives, if desired. Spoon the potatoes on top of the lamb mixture to cover it completely.

Bake the dish until it is heated through and the potatoes just begin to brown, about 35 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining chives, a light dusting of Parmesan cheese and serve immediately. Serves 4-6.

note: mine always bubbles over despite my attempts to prevent it. I always put a baking sheet underneath the dish just in case. better safe than sorry.

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