Thursday, March 14, 2013

Irish Grandmother's Shepherd's Pie

Did I tell you that Bo's mom is from Ireland?  As in, she still has a bit of her accent, even though she's lived in the States for fifty years.  So, of course, I asked her to make something festive, now that she's living with us!

Over the years, Bo has asked me to make him Shepherd's Pie because he loves it.  I'd never even tasted it, so when I went digging for recipes, I had no idea which ingredients would make a recipe good or not.  So, I tried a few variations on him.  He claimed that they were good; I didn't care for any of it.

Fast forward to yesterday, and I asked his mom to make Shepherd's Pie the way she's always made it.
None of the frozen peas, carrots, and corn that Bo insisted went in there. Not topped with the cheddar cheese he tried to con us into using.  So she made it (while I was at work, how fantastic is that!), and then I asked a million questions about how much of this and how she did that.  I wrote it all down on a messy piece of paper, and then typed it up to share.  Hurrah!

And you know what?  I really liked it.  I even got a second helping.  It was infinitely better than any of the recipes I've made in the past.  It's definitely comfort food, and it'll fill you up on a chilly day.

Other recipes to try:

Happy St. Patty's!

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Irish Grandmother's Shepherd's Pie

8 red potatoes, peeled
2 Tbsp. butter

2 lbs. ground beef
1/2 c. chopped onion
1 c. grated carrots
7 oz. diced canned tomatoes
1/2 c. chopped fresh parsley
6 oz. Guinness, extra-stout
3 Tbps. brown gravy mix, dissolved in 1/2 c. hot water
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
salt & pepper, to taste

Add potatoes to large pot of boiling water, and keep at a low boil until potatoes are fork-tender.  Drain well and set aside in a large bowl.  Add butter to potatoes and allow to melt while you assemble the remaining ingredients.

Meanwhile, brown ground beef and onions in a large skillet over medium heat, until cooked through.  Add carrots, tomatoes, and parsley, and cook until carrots and parsley are softened, stirring often.  Add Guinness, gravy, Worcestershire, and salt and pepper.  Continue cooking and stirring often until thickened.  If mixture is soupy, add flour - a tablespoon at a time - to thicken.  Pour mixture into a 2-quart oven safe dish.

Using a potato masher or an electric mixer, whip potatoes and butter until creamy and fluffy.  Drop by spoonfuls onto the meat mixture in the dish.  Use a fork to drag the potatoes to the edges and to smooth the top, so that it covers all of the meat mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-30 minutes, or until bubbly.  Then broil for 5-20 minutes, or until the potatoes are golden, watching carefully so as not to burn.

* Note: Bo's mom didn't measure anything when she made this recipe (it feels more authentic that way anyway, right?), so we hashed out what the measurements would be for the ingredients above. So, make this as-is and then play around with the amounts as you like.

         Click here for a printable version of this recipe


  1. Hi, you would usually use lamb in Shepherd's Pie and if you use beef it's Cottage Pie. Same recipe really although I never use carrots or tomatoes in a Shepherd's Pie just meat, onion and a lamb stock. Worcestershire Sauce is good to strengthen the flavour. But your pie looks delicious!

    1. Thanks! But I'm not going to tell my mother-in-law that she made it wrong ;)


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