My Wife’s Father was part of an Irish family, and we couldn’t let a St. Patrick’s Day pass without raising a glass to the family memories. When I think of classic Irish recipes, Shepherd’s Pie always comes to mind. There are many variations of this recipe, which is traditionally made with leftover roast lamb. You can also substitute roast beef or even ground beef if you prefer. I like to make the recipe completely from scratch, which means I begin by roasting some lamb. If you already have cooked lamb or beef, you can skip that step and continue with the recipe. This dish is also fantastic leftover.
For the Roast Lamb
1 Lb. boneless leg of lamb (I cut into 2” cubes to speed cooking time)
2 cloves garlic minced
1 T Chopped fresh thyme (or 1 t dried)
1 T Chopped fresh rosemary (or 1 t dried)
2 T olive oil
Salt & Pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Season the lamb with salt and pepper. Place olive oil in a bowl and add garlic and herbs. Place lamb pieces in the bowl and toss to coat with herbs and garlic, and place in roasting pan. Roast for 40 minutes or until the internal temperature is around 130 degrees tested with a thermometer. When finished, remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Dice the lamb into ¼” pieces and set aside for assembly of casserole.
Shepherd’s Pie Preparation
1 lb. Cooked Meat such as lamb above
2 T butter
1 onion chopped
2 stalks celery chopped
2 carrots chopped
2 T finely chopped parsley
2 T tomato paste
1 T fresh thyme chopped
1 cup dry white wine
1-½ cups chicken stock
¼ cup hot water with 2 T of cornstarch dissolved into it
1 T Worcestershire sauce
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1-cup peas (I use frozen or fresh cooked)
1-cup corn (I use frozen or fresh cooked)
Mashed potatoes – around 3 lbs. of potato
2 cups cheddar cheese to top – I use a quality aged cheddar
Dice the cooked meat into ¼” cubes and set aside.
Heat the butter in a saucepan that is large enough to handle all the ingredients and add the onions, carrots, celery, and parsley. Cook, stirring frequently until the onions are soft. When the onions are soft, add tomato paste, fresh thyme, stock, wine, Worcestershire, and pepper to the pot and let simmer together for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel potatoes and cut them into cubes for the mashed potato. Place the potato cubes in salted boiling water and let cook for 20 minutes or until they are soft when pricked with a fork. Drain in a colander and add potatoes back to the hot pan and begin mashing. Add 3 tablespoons of butter and ¼ cup of heavy cream and stir into the mash. Add more cream if necessary to end up with mashed potatoes that can be spread easily. Keep warm while meat cooks.
Grate about a half-pound of good cheddar cheese and set aside to top casserole.
After 10 minutes add the cubed meat, corn, and peas to the saucepot and continue simmering for another 5 minutes. To finish the sauce, add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch dissolved in a ¼ cup of hot water to the pan, and stir to thicken. Cook for an additional 5 minutes or until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spoon meat mixture into a large casserole, and top with enough mashed potato to completely layer over the meat mixture. Top with grated cheddar cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese on top of the casserole develops some brown. If your oven isn’t browning the cheese, you can place it under the broiler for a few minutes before serving.
Use a spatula to cut out a square piece of the shepherd’s pie and place it in a shallow bowl. Top with some chopped parsley and serve.
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