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St. Patrick's Day calls for Shepherd's Pie

Shepherd's Pie, a mashed-potato-topped dish, traditionally is served in Ireland with ground lamb seasoned with fresh herbs and ground spices
by Dave Cathey Modified: March 12, 2013 at 4:56 pm •  Published: March 13, 2013
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St. Patrick's Day is Sunday, which many will celebrate at various pubs and eateries around the city. (I'll have plenty about that in Thursday's Mood section and online at mood.newsok.com.)

But if you don't want to be part of an all-day black-and-tan fest centered around an ever-worsening rendition of “Danny Boy,” you might want to put on your green apron and make something at home.

Corned beef is a common favorite, perhaps some Colcannon. But this year, I opted for Shepherd's Pie.

Also known as Cottage Pie, to denote its humble origins, this dish topped with mashed potatoes is traditionally served in Ireland with ground lamb seasoned with fresh herbs and ground spices. But if lamb is just more authentic than you can handle, go with ground beef. If you want to make it Oklahoma-centric, consider ground bison.

This is a kid-friendly meal that is simple, inexpensive and can be made, at least in part, in advance. Also, it makes great leftovers. Serve this crowd-pleaser with some nice local greens wilted in a little water or oil and wash it down with Guinness — green tea for the kids. Please, no quality beer damaged by green dye.

by Dave Cathey
Food Editor
The Oklahoman's food editor, Dave Cathey, keeps his eye on culinary arts and serves up news and reviews from Oklahoma’s booming food scene.
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Shepherd's Pie

Servings: 6-8

For the potatoes:

2 pounds russet potatoes

½ cup cream, half-and-half or whole milk

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 ½ teaspoons salt, preferably kosher

1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

2 egg yolks

For the filling:

2 pounds ground lamb, beef or bison

1 ½ cup beef or chicken broth

1 onion, finely chopped

2/3 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels

2/3 cup fresh or frozen English peas

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 carrots, peeled and diced small

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons bacon grease or vegetable oil

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, minced

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoon thyme leaves, minced

Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Peel the potatoes and cut into 1-inch dice. Place in a pot with enough water to cover all the potatoes.

Cover potatoes and bring to a boil. Once boiling, uncover, lower heat to medium and simmer until potatoes are tender enough for a fork to run through them, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Place the cream (or half-and-half or milk) and butter into a microwave-safe container and heat 40 to 45 seconds to warm them.

Drain the potatoes in a colander and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher or on very low speed with a hand mixer, adding the cream, butter, salt and pepper until smooth. Fold in the yolks until well combined.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

The filling can be made well in advance or while the potatoes are boiling.

Heat the fat in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and carrots and saute just until they begin to take on color, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and stir to combine for another 2 minutes. Add the ground lamb (or beef or bison), salt and pepper and cook until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Sprinkle the meat with flour, mixing until well coated for another minute. Add the tomato paste, chicken broth, Worcestershire, rosemary, thyme, and combine thoroughly. Once mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat to low, season with plenty of salt and pepper, cover and simmer 10 minutes. The sauce should be thick but not gooey.

Add the corn and peas to the lamb mixture and spread evenly into a 9-by-11-inch glass baking dish.

Top with the mashed potatoes, sealing around the edges first to prevent the mixture from bubbling up. Smooth over the crust with a rubber spatula to make it airtight.

Place in the middle rack of the oven and bake until the potatoes begin to brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove and cool, preferably on a rack, for at least 10 minutes.

Serve with Irish Soda Bread, wilted greens and a Guinness.

SOURCE: Dave Cathey

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