By Lucy McCullough
Happy St. Patrick’s Day
Shepherd’s pie is a traditional Irish meal usually made with ground lamb, but beef is also very good. The shepherd’s pie recipe from Simon Pierce Restaurant in “Dishing Up Vermont” is my favorite. I will occasionally replace the potato in the topping with cauliflower; reducing the amount of carbohydrates and the cauliflower adds a wonderful addition to the flavors. I also prepare the meat mixture in a cast iron skillet, top with the potato mixture and place in the oven to bake, saving on cleanup time.
Shepherd’s Pie (8 servings)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds ground lamb or ground chuck
1 large white onion, peeled and diced
2 large carrots, diced
1 cup low-sodium beef broth
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup frozen baby peas
1 cup frozen corn
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 lbs. of russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (4 cups)
4 tablespoons salted butter
1/2 cup milk, warmed
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 8 ounces)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the lamb or beef, and stir to break up pieces and cook until browned, about seven minutes. Add onion and carrots, cook for another two to three minutes. Add the broth, combine and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and add tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce, stirring until well combined. Continue to cook until it begins to thicken, stirring frequently. Add peas and corn, stirring until well combined. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.
Add potatoes to a large stockpot, cover with water and cook until potatoes are fork tender. Drain well. Add butter, milk and half of the cheese. Mash and mix thoroughly until desired consistency is reached. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Additional butter and cream may be added to taste.
Spoon the meat mixture into a large casserole dish. Spread the potatoes evenly over the top. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until pie is hot and potatoes are golden brown.
Lucy McCullough co-owner of the Catamount Outdoor Family Center and Catamount’s B&B is a former cook at Catamount’s Tavern.