Shepard’s Pie

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We are getting ready for March here.  March means three things:

  1. Spring
  2. St. Patrick’s Day
  3. My Birthday

In short, the celebration of all things green and Irish.  (Technically I am only part Irish.  I am also Welsh, German, English, and other.  Essentially, I am American.)  This is the time of year when I can really dive into the heritage from the Isles and come up with all sorts of food fun.  For me, that meant cracking into a really good Shepard’s Pie recipe.  I have been making Shepard’s Pie for a long long time.  Long before I was married to Mr. Stacy.  However, I always referred to it as Cottage Pie if it contained beef or pork, Hunter’s Pie if it contained game, or even “Potato Cheese Bake Thing.”

When Mr. Stacy was growing up, he had some bad lamb experiences and when I was growing up, it just wasn’t something mom put on the table.  Money was tight and pound of ground lamb was twice as much as a pound of ground beef.  Even then, Cottage Pie rarely made it to the table.  It was my best friend, Sharon, that introduced me to this simple wonder and I started making it for me and my sisters as a teenager for easy lunches while mom and dad were at work.  My pie as come a long way since ground meat, cheese, and mashed potato topping.

I found the more authentic and flavor pie isn’t just a stew base nor is it a bunch of seasoned loose meat.  It’s a happy hybrid of the two.  It’s not drowning in sauce, but wrapped in light reduction to keep it moist and flavorful.  You could use regular mashed potatoes for the top, but a lovely rich and creamy potato topping is really a simple delight.  The recipe isn’t ingredient heavy and depending on how you play the alcohol you can have a gluten free dish.

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Sheppard’s Pie

serves 2 to 3

Filling

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb ground lamb (or other meat)
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • 2 or 3 thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 3/4 C scotch ale, Guiness, or red wine
  • 3/4 C beef broth
  • salt and pepper to taste

Potatoes

  • 1 1/2 lb potatoes,(about 6 medium yellow or 2 large russets) peeled and diced
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 C heavy cream
  • 1/4 C parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 egg yolk
  • salt to taste

Preheat oven to 365

Heat olive oil in medium pot.  Add onion and garlic and simmer, allow onions to sweat out and become slightly soft, stirring often.  Add ground meat, rosemary and thyme.  Brown meat, stirring often.  Drain excess fat.

Return to heat and add bay, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste and combine.  Add wine and broth and season to taste.  Allow to simmer on medium low till liquid is reduced and thick.  About 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring potatoes to a boil in salted water and cook till tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Drain and return to pot, mash really well.  Add butter, cream, cheese, egg yolk, and salt to taste.  Mix well.

Transfer meat mix to oven proof dish, remove rosemary, thyme, and bay leaf, level out.  Cover with potatoes.  Go fancy and peak with a fork, or just spread evenly.  Place in oven and allow to bake till bubbling and potatoes are golden.  About 25 to 30 minutes.

Allow to stand for 5 minutes before serving.

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