Ireland is a land with great small pubs tucked into the corners of the countryside, both a traveler’s relief and a tourist destination. Enter at lunchtime and prepare to enjoy one of the several rustic dishes that Ireland is famous for – lamb stew, colcannon, peasant soup, brown bread, bangers and mash, fresh fish, or Shepherd’s Pie. During one of our trips, Sheila and I realized that there are as many versions of Shepherd’s Pie as there are cooks in the kitchen. We had always thought that perhaps, except for spices, the ingredients would be the same everywhere. Nope. I think the only common factors we found were the peas and carrots in every bowl (or plate) served. Even the toppings varied from pub to pub – we had both pie crust and mashed potatoes covering the tasty meat and veggie dish. Some had ground lamb for the meat, instead of the beef that we use in this recipe.
Shepherd’s Pie, in whatever form, is a fairly simple dish to create. After tinkering a bit, this is what Sheila created. And, of course, taste tested by me.
- 6 cups mashed potatoes (save the potato water to be used later)
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cups peeled, diced carrots
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 medium onion, finely diced OR two Tablespoons onion powder
- 2 pounds ground beef (we used 93% lean)
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 4 Tablespoons flour
- 4 Tablespoons of the mashed potatoes
- 3 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 cup potato water
- 1 cup chicken stock
- Heat oven to 400F
- Cook carrots in olive oil for 5 minutes on medium heat, cover while cooking.
- Sprinkle the salt over the carrots and stir.
- Sprinkle the onions (or onion powder) over the carrots, mix thoroughly and cook for another 2 minutes, keeping covered.
- Add the beef and stir well.
- Add black pepper and stir thoroughly.
- Brown meat (about 10 mins), then drain the fat.
- Add butter and peas and stir.
- Sprinkle the flour over the mix. Mix completely.
- Add 4 tablespoons of mashed potatoes, potato water, and Worcestershire sauce and mix thoroughly, keeping covered while cooking 2-3 minutes to thicken.
- Add chicken stock and stir, continuing to cook until gravy is thick, about 2-3 minutes.
- Season to taste.
- Divide meat into six pot pie dishes, then spread about 1 cup of mashed potatoes over each one.
- Arrange pies on cookie sheet in center of oven and bake about 20-25 minutes, until potato topping is lightly browned on top.
Serve right away, with brown bread and butter.
*Photo by Patti Phillips