Shepherd’s Pie

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  Many moons ago (many, many moons ago), I flew to Ireland to attend a semester abroad at University College Cork.  It was one of the best experiences of my life.

In addition to meeting the most wonderfully lovely people and learning about a fascinatingly beautiful culture and attempting (and totally failing) to learn Irish, I had a blast trying different Irish dishes.

One of these dishes was traditional shepherd’s pie.  My Irish roommate made this fabulously simple yet delicious and hearty dinner for my Polish and Italian roommates and luckily, me.

This was my first attempt at making a shepherd’s pie and although there was a ton of chopping of ingredients, it’s a really easy recipe.  I should’ve let the liquid reduce more; the meat was a touch runny.  And the potatoes were a bit chunkier than I would’ve preferred.  But the flavors were on point.

Notes:  1.  I used WAY more butter than called for by “accident” (keeping to my Irish roots).  2.  I used WAY more garlic than called for, not by “accident” (breaking from my Irish roots).  3.  In an attempt to make this a touch healthier, I used ground chicken instead of lamb and beef.

Shepherd’s Pie (recipe care of

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INGREDIENTS:  4 large russet potatoes (peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes), Salt, 1 tbsp. olive oil, 3 tbsp. butter, 1 lb. ground sirloin, 1 lb. ground lamb, Pepper, 1 small onion (finely chopped), 1 carrot (chopped), 1 stalk celery (finely chopped), 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce, 2 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves (chopped), 2 cloves garlic (chopped), 1 tsp. ground caraway or whole caraway seeds, 1 tsp. ground cumin, 2 tbsp. flour, 1/2 cup white wine or dry sherry, 1 can (10.5 oz.) beef consommé or 1 1/2 cups beef or chicken stock, 3/4 cup sour cream, 1/4 cup fresh chives (chopped), 1 large egg yolk, About 8 oz. shredded Gruyère or white cheddar, 1/3 cup (a handful) fresh flatleaf parsley (finely chopped)

DIRECTIONS:  In a medium pot, cover the potatoes with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Salt the water and reduce heat a bit to keep the water at a gentle boil. Cook the potatoes until tender when pierced with a knife, about 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, heat a large castiron skillet over medium-high. Add the oil, one turn of the pan, then add 1 tbsp. butter. When the butter melts, add the ground meat; cook, stirring often and breaking up the meat with a spoon, until browned, about 8 minutes. Season the meat with salt and pepper. Add the onion, carrot, celery, Worcestershire, thyme, garlic, caraway, and cumin. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables soften, about 8 minutes. Stir in the flour. Add the wine and consommé and stir until thickened, about a minute. Reduce heat enough to maintain a simmer.  Turn on the broiler.  Drain the potatoes. Using a potato ricer or food mill, puree the potatoes back into the hot pot. Mix in the remaining 2 tbsp. butter, the sour cream, chives, and egg yolk; season.  Spread the potatoes over the meat and veggies in the skillet. Top with the cheese. Broil until the top is browned and the edges bubble, about 4 minutes. Top with the parsley. Serve the pie directly from the skillet.

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