Shepherd’s pie

Newsletter - Mar 1015 - Cottage PieNothing says the start of spring quite like St. Patrick’s day, unless of course you are living in Chicago, which is still in subzero temperatures and possibly knee-high snow. I have to admit that is one of the greatest things about Budapest, by mid-March it is not uncommon spend a sunny afternoon outside without a winter jacket at least for a couple of day during the month. Spring will be with us shortly.

St. Patrick’s Day is March 17, celebrating the patron saint of Ireland. It is a day when it’s customary to wear green and enjoy some nice Irish food. To many this means corned beef and cabbage but this dish is about as Irish as Tom Yum Gai or Lasagna. It was in the United States that Irish immigrants, raised on pork, found themselves living next to immigrant Central European Jewish butchers who sold them cheap cuts of meat which was best served with boiled cabbage and carrots. So instead for Paddy’s day let’s make a real traditional Irish meal like a ‘shepherd’s pie’

Ingredients:

  • 700  g ground beef or lamb
  • 2 large onion, finely diced
  • 3 -4 large carrots, diced
  • 1 cup (250 g) frozen peas
  • 500 g roughly chopped mushrooms
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp (15 g) dried thyme
  • 3 tbsp (30 g) flour
  • 1 tbsp (15 g) butter
  • 1 cup (2.5 dl) Irish Stout beer
  • 1 can (450 g) chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp (30 g) tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp (30 g) Worcestershire sauce, preferably L&P and not Heintz
  • 1 cup (2.5 dl) chicken or beef stock
  • 1 kg mashed yellow potatoes
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil
  • Salt / pepper

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 190 C/375°F.
  2. Over high heat in a large skillet or pot, brown meat while breaking up into smaller pieces. Add in a few grinds of salt and pepper. Once browned, place in strainer to drain off excess fat.
  3. Return pan to medium high heat. Sauté carrots and onions in the oil until starting to get tender. Add in chopped mushrooms, add in butter and cook until mushrooms browned. (about 5-7 minutes)
  4. Stir in one small can of tomato paste and incorporate it to your vegetable mixture.
  5. Incorporate flour by sprinkling in a spoonful at a time while stirring mix. If the bottom of the pan starts to burn pour in a little water and scrape up the burnt bits.
  6. Add cooked meat back to the pan.
  7. Add dark beer, Worcestershire sauce, and can of chopped tomatoes.
  8. Reduce slightly then add the chicken/beef stock. Allow to reduce down until you have a thick meaty gravy. Season to taste.
  9. Remove from heat and pour into a 9×13 casserole dish.
  10. Spoon, or pipe in, mashed potatoes over the top.
  11. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the potato is nice and browned on top.
  12. Serve as is or with a pint of Irish Stout.

Slàinte (slahn-chə)