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Celebrate St. Paddy’s Day with Shepherd’s Pie


It’s almost St. Paddy’s Day. What better way to celebrate than enjoying Shepherd’s Pie—the perfect Irish comfort food.

On our trip to Ireland, we stopped at a charming pub in the town of Galway. The server suggested we order Shepherd’s Pie. On this particular rainy, chilly, windy evening, this Irish dish was the perfect ending to a day of exploring Ireland’s western coast. This pub’s version of Shepherd’s Pie was so delicious I had to re-create it when we returned to the States. I love serving my family this rustic, homey dish—it’s comforting, soothing, and hearty.

According to some food historians, Shepherd’s Pie originated in Scotland and later became popular in both Northern England and Ireland. This traditional dish is made with ground lamb, carrots, and peas that are cooked in a rich, delicious gravy. The meat and veggies are spooned into a baking dish, topped with fluffy mashed potatoes, and baked in the oven. The Irish were the first to top this savory pie with mashed potatoes instead of a pastry topping. This should come as no surprise since we know how important potatoes are in the Irish diet.

Carol Ann’s Shepherd’s Pie Serves 4 to 6

Although the traditional Shepherd’s Pie is made with ground lamb, I used ground Wagyu beef the last time I made Shepherd’s Pie. It is a must try! Wagyu means “Japanese beef cattle.” There are four breeds of Japanese cattle that produce wagyu beef. This beef has a distinct appearance because it contains so much marbling. Kobe beef is produced from the Tajima breed of Japanese Black Cows. It is some of the most expensive beef in the world. Ranchers have crossbreed Angus cattle with the Tajima breed and are now producing American wagyu beef.

For the meat and vegetables

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 8 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced 1 pound ground beef or lamb 1 cup white onion, chopped 4 teaspoons minced garlic 1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon large grind black pepper 2 tablespoons tomato paste 2 tablespoons flour 2 tablespoons Worcestershire® sauce 1 cup red wine ¾ cup beef broth 1 cup frozen carrots, diced 1 cup frozen peas 1 cup frozen corn kernels Before you begin making the meat filling, put the potatoes on to boil. (See ingredients and directions below.)

In a large skillet, place olive oil over a medium heat. When oil sizzles, add mushrooms and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add ground beef, onion, and garlic and cook over a medium heat until meat is lightly browned and onion is tender, about 8 minutes. Crumble meat with a fork while it cooks.

Add rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper and stir to combine. Add tomato paste and flour and stir until well combined and no clumps of tomato paste remain. Add Worcestershire® sauce, wine, beef broth, carrots, peas, and corn. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the meat mixture from the heat and set aside until ready to assemble pie.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. For the potatoes: 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into equal-sized chunks Dash salt 4 tablespoons unsalted butter ½ cup Cheddar cheese, shredded ½ cup half-and-half 4 teaspoons minced garlic, or to taste 1 teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon large grind black pepper In a heavy saucepan, place potatoes and dash salt with just enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil over a medium-high heat, reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and simmer until tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. To test potatoes, pierce with a fork or sharp knife. Potatoes should be soft when ready to mash. Drain.

Return potatoes to the saucepan and mash with a potato masher. Add butter and cheese and continue mashing. In a small bowl, combine half-and-half, garlic, salt, and pepper. Add the half-and-half mixture to the potatoes and beat constantly with a wooden spoon until potatoes are smooth. To assemble the pie:

Spoon the meat mixture into a 9 X 13-inch baking dish. Spread it out into an even layer. Spoon the mashed potatoes on top of the meat, again carefully spreading them into an even layer.

Place the baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake uncovered for about 20 minutes. If you want a crispier top, continue baking until potatoes are the color and consistency desired. Let sit 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Tips on selecting ground beef: Some ground beef products are labeled “lean” and “extra lean”. “Lean” means that for every 100 grams of beef there are less than 10 grams of fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat, and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol. “Extra Lean” means for every 100 grams of beef there are less than 2 grams of saturated fat and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol.

Supermarkets will also label beef according to the meat/fat ratios: 73/27; 80/20; 85/15; 92/8; 93/7; 94/4. Select the type of ground beef that is appropriate for how you will prepare the beef. Ground beef with higher fat content will yield juicier grilled burgers. Leaner ground beef is good in recipes where the meat is crumbled—like spaghetti sauce, taco filling, or shepherd’s pie.

Tips on storing ground beef: When exposed to oxygen, ground beef will become a rosy, red color. Sometimes you may find the center of a package of ground beef has darkened. This is not harmful. This is the result of lack of exposure to oxygen. If you have concerns about ground beef, check the smell. It should be fresh, not sour, and the meat should feel moist not slimy.

Carol Ann


Carol Ann Kates is the award-winning author of cookbook, Secret Recipes from the Corner Market and Grocery Shopping Secrets. She’s an expert in how to shop, select, and store produce for maximizing home cooking outcomes and minimizing time and money spent. As a former supermarket and deli operator, Carol Ann shares grocery-insider wisdom—the same expertise you used to receive when patronizing a mom-and-pop establishment. Contact her at CarolAnn@CarolAnnKates.com and explore her website, www.CarolAnnKates.com.

Copyright 2023 All Rights Reserved Carol Ann Kates

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