As the days of winter linger yet signs of a promising spring abound, a Potato-Topped Shepherd’s Pie is an easy, flavorful comfort food to whip up any night of the week. Even better, use leftovers from a Sunday roast, and you’ll make a meal that won’t easily be forgotten.
Potato Topped Shepherd’s Pie, quintessential Irish fare, has been favored by not only the Irish but British as well. So similar are the two, shepherd’s pie and cottage pie, that the only difference is in the meat.
With O’Hara blood running in our veins, our family tends to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day for several days before and after March 17. Shepherd’s pie has a firm hold on our menu that week. Add a wedge of Irish soda bread and a green salad… perhaps an apple cake on the side, and people tend to linger at the dinner table.
While the recipe is written to be cooked in a baking dish or pie plate, it is especially popular to portion the meat and potato topping into individual serving dishes.
Darina Allen, author of “Irish Traditional Cooking” says of shepherd’s pie, “I adore shepherd’s pie — so much so that I would almost cook a roast specifically to make it! Cooking raw minced beef simply doesn’t give the same flavor. Despite its name, in Ireland, shepherd’s pie is almost always made from beef, but you can, of course, use lamb.”
Potato Topped Shepherd’s Pie
1 lb minced meat (ground lamb or ground beef)
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen corn
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup beef broth
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
cracked black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, divided
Mashed Potato Topping
1 lb Yukon gold potatoes
3 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup milk
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350-degrees.
Boil the potato in a large saucepan.
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat and add onion and chopped carrots. Continue to cook until the onion becomes translucent and the carrots soften. Add garlic and cook another minute. Then add the frozen peas and corn, stirring to incorporate.
Add the flour to the vegetables, stirring until the flour becomes slightly golden. Immediately add the tomato paste, broth, thyme, salt, pepper and 1 tablespoons fresh chopped Italian parsley. Bring the filling to a boil. Reduce the heat and allow the meat to simmer about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the mashed potato topping. When the potatoes are fork tender, about 20 minutes, drain. Add 3 tablespoons butter to the potatoes. Using a potato masher, mash until smooth. Add milk, Parmesan cheese and salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste. Stir and mash until smooth.
When the meat filling has thickened, transfer to a lightly greased 3-quart baking dish or deep-dish pie plate. Spoon mashed potato topping evenly over the meat mixture, smoothing with the back of a spoon. To give the topping a pretty tough — score the mashed potato in a diamond pattern with the top of a fork.
Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 30 minutes or until heated thoroughly. Allow to cool about 5 minutes. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve.