Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Shepherd's Pie fit for a Leprechaun

Oh my word, have you seen that YouTube video about the Leprechaun in Mobile, Alabama? It cracks me up. Every. Time. I really felt bad for the reporter who had the assignment. "Hey you, your job is to go find the leprechaun in Crichton." He is really moving up the ranks!

My favorite part of the report is the amateur sketch of the wee little guy. Hysterical.
I mean, they actually put that on the news. There must not be much happenin' down in Alabama.

Well, St. Patrick's Day is around the corner and I'm making a traditional Irish Shepherd's Pie or if you're a Brit or Aussie, you might call it a cottage pie. Shepherd's Pie is basically a casserole made of a cooked meat (lamb or beef) with veggies like corn or peas, then it's topped with mashed potatoes and baked.

The trick here is to season it really well, because you want your beef to have a nice thick tasty gravy baking under the spuds. Shepherd's Pie isn't a great dish if it's bland. Another thing about this dish, is it's fairly inexpensive and easy to make, so you can always double the recipe and make two. Bake one and freeze the other, or as I often do, take something to a friend or neighbor. These can also be made as individual portions in small pie pans.
This is a great way to get your meat and potatoes in a cozy dinner!

Start with washing and exfoliating about 2 pounds of potatoes. I realize my wire brush looks a little like a miniature toilet brush, rest assured, it's a veggie scrubber.
(You can peel them if you like, but when using red potatoes I love to leave the skins on.)
*Potato tip: When draining water from your freshly cooked potatoes, save the starchy water and cool, then water houseplants or your outside plants....the water is full of nutrients perfect for your spring blooms.
Here's what you need:
2 pounds of potatoes
4 Tbl butter
1 onion chopped
1 pound ground beef or lamb
1 cup peas and carrots (I chose frozen for the ease, but fresh would be fine to use)
salt and pepper to taste
1tsp each, dried rosemary and thyme
1 Tbl flour
1-2 tsp Worchestershire sauce
1 Tbl ketchup
1/2 cup of beef broth
(For the potatoes)
1/2 cup light sour cream
salt and pepper to taste
4 Tbl butter
2 scallions chopped (or you can use chives....whatever you have onhand is fine)
Quarter and boil potatoes until firm, but tender, drain and allow to cool slightly.
While potatoes are cooking, in a large skillet, melt 4 tbl. butter. saute onion in butter until tender over medium heat. Add 1 pound of ground beef (or ground lamb) and cook until brown seasoning with salt and pepper, rosemary and thyme. Drain fat. Add vegetables, flour, stir until flour is blended, then add worchestershire sauce, ketchup and beef broth and cook over low heat.
*Adding flour will help to thicken the sauce*

Mash potatoes with 1/2 cup of sour cream and 4 Tbl. butter. Add salt and pepper to taste. Then, add green onion or chives and 1 cup shredded cheese.

*I prefer the whisk attachment on my hand mixer to make the potatoes smooth and creamy.

Layer meat and veggie mixture in the bottom of a 13x9 baking dish. Smooth potatoes over the meat.

Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes or until potatoes puff up slightly and are a beautiful golden brown. You can pop this casserole under the broiler for a few minutes to brown it slightly if needed.

Voila! Here's a winner that you'll find at the end of a rainbow!! Yum!! Oh, and Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

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