Since this was the first St. Patrick’s Day where I cooked as my primary means of celebratory expression, I decided that I would follow up my Corned Beef and Cabbage lunch with a shepherd’s pie dinner.
2. Brown it: cut up a couple slices of bacon into lardons. Render the fat and then fish out the bacon.
Dice 2 medium/small onions. Cook them in a skillet about five minutes. Peel and dice three or four carrots. Add the to the onions and cook them in the same skillet for a couple minutes. Add a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste, if you have it. Then, brown 1 pound of ground beef. I know lamb is traditional, but I have a hoard of beef in the freezer that I need to get through.
3. Pea on it: add 1 bag of frozen peas, straight from the freezer. Mix them around and let them come up to temperature.
4. Flour it: you need to make a gravy in the pan. Add a heaping tablespoon of flour. Mix.
5. Stock it: add 1 cup of broth. In the past, I would make a bunch of stock and then freeze it for just this type of situation. But my freezer is currently overfilled with ground beef and breastmilk, so I have been using this instant stock, which I find to be quite nice and easy. Mix one packet with 1 cup of water. Add to the pan. Let it simmer and thicken.
6. Mash it: drain the potatoes. Mash in a bowl with about a half cup or more of sour cream, garlic powder, and some milk. I was looking for really creamy potatoes here.
7. Top it: dump the meat, veggies, and gravy into a big casserole. I got this one from my mother-in-law for Christmas. Top the meat and veggies with the mashed potatoes. I used a spatula to flatten it out into a gloriously smooth layer.
8. Bake it: 350 for about half an hour or so. I would also recommend putting a baking sheet on the rack underneath the casserole. I wish that I had. The dish was really full, so leakage and bubble over is a hi probability.
9. Eat it: the food was super super hot. Nuclear reactor hot. Let it rest for a while first.
Like the corned beef and cabbage before it, I was surprised by how much I liked this. It was savory and creamy in a delightful way. It happened to be unseasonably warm on this particular St. Pat’s, but I will definitely be making this on future St. Patrick’s Days in Chicago where the weather is more typically in the 40s or maybe 50s.
Also like the corned beef we had earlier in the day, I couldn’t help but wonder why people don’t eat this more often. If you like casseroles, as I do, then you will love this. It’s relatively easy, it’s really cheap to make, it’s really tasty, and it makes for really great leftovers.