Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s Pie seems to be from both English and Irish and eaten around St. Patrick’s Day. I don’t care what time of year it is, this is a perfect dish to make on a bleary, rainy day. But don’t let that stop you, we have 15 inches of snow where I live, and it’s delicious then, too! 

2 Tbsp. butter
2 lbs. ground beef
1 large onion, peeled & diced
3/4 cup frozen peas – no need to thaw
2 carrots, peeled & diced or cut into coins
2 Tbsp. all purpose flour or you can use cornstarch
1 1/2 cups beef stock
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
Pinch of nutmeg
Kosher salt & ground black pepper
3 large potatoes peeled and diced
6 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup of half-n-half or milk

And, 2 more Tbsp. butter

In a large pot melt the butter then add the ground beef, onion, and carrots and cook over low heat until the meat is browned – takes about 10 minutes; drain and place back in pot. Add the flour and cook for one full minute, then add the beef stock, Worcestershire, spices and peas. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered for about 30 minutes or until thickened, stirring often. Remove from heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, place the potatoes in a pot with enough cold water to cover, sprinkle in some salt and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and simmer for about 25 minutes. Drain and place potatoes in a bowl with 6 Tbsp. butter, the half-n-half and salt & pepper to taste – mash until smooth. I use a hand held mixer to mash them.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and transfer the beef mixture to a 9 x 13 pan. Place the mashed potatoes over the top of the beef mixture and spread around as carefully as you can – take your time spreading them. Dice the last 2 Tbsp. butter and scatter over the top. Bake this until bubbly and slightly browned – about 30 minutes.

Corned Beef & Cabbage

cabbage.jpgHappy St. Patrick’s Day! I hope you and your loved ones eat well from my version of the Irish classic. Put the Celtic Women CD or perhaps the soundtrack from The Brothers McMullen in your disc player while you prepare this. Remember, if you don’t care for the cabbage, just skip that step. Enjoy!

2 medium onions, peeled
6 whole cloves
3 1/2 lb. piece corned beef
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into big chunks
2 bay leaves
8 peppercorns

1 medium head green cabbage
5 russet potatoes, peeled & halved
Kosher salt & ground black pepper

Hot mustard on the side – optional, but really, really good!

a-celtic-woman.jpg

Stud the onions with the cloves and set aside. Rinse the beef in cold water to remove the brine. Place beef in a large pot and add the onions, carrots, bay leaves, peppercorns, and enough water to cover. Bring this to a boil over high heat, cover, then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 2 full hours, skimming it occasionally.

Wash cabbage and remove core and any torn leaves, then cut it into about 6 wedges. Add this and the potatoes to the beef and cover and simmer for 25 minutes – until potatoes are tender.

Transfer the beef to a cutting board and cover with a plate that has been weighted down with heavy cans. (Doing this ensures the meat is much, much easier to slice). Transfer the veggies to a platter. Remove the cloves from the onions. Strain the liquid, toss out the bay leaves and peppercorns. Return the strained liquid to the pot and cook it over high heat for about 30 minutes – it’ll reduce by about 1/3. Season it with kosher salt & pepper.

Return the veggies to the stock and heat through – this takes about 5 minutes or so. Remove the cans & plate from the beef and cut it across the grain, into 1/4″ thick slices. Arrange it on a plate with the veggies surrounding it. Moisten it with the stock. serve with the hot mustard if you’re using it.