Posts Tagged ‘Shepherd’s Pie’

“What is a traditional Irish meal for St. Patrick’s Day?”…this is the number one question I’m being asked right now at In an Irish Home. Unfortunately, to all of you who are looking for me to come back with the answer, “corned beef and cabbage with a side of boiled potatoes”, I’m sorry to disappoint. The truth is, in Ireland, there is no one particular or “traditional” meal served on Paddy’s Day.

In Ireland, despite the current trend of big parades and festivities, which are really about bringing in income for the exchequer, St. Patrick’s Day is still a holy day of obligation. The country’s bishops have urged people right across the land to remember that the faithful must attend Mass. {Personally, I think this makes for an excellent message going out from Ireland to faithful people wherever they call home. I prefer it to the message, “drink excessive amounts of green beer and get drunk in honour of our patron Saint and the ancestral homeland”…but that’s for another day.}

ShamrocksIn Ireland many will go to mass in the morning, where they may receive a clutch of blessed shamrocks, and head home before spending a few hours at their local parade. Those daring to brave the crush of revelers in Dublin will head into town for our biggest national parade, which will see people from all over the world in attendance sporting some sort of green attire and cheering for marching bands and festive floats. The pubs and bars will spill over with colourful cheer and in villages across the island homemakers will be putting a regular ol’ meal on the table for supper.

In our Irish home this year, I will be serving Shepherd’s Pie as a main course for St. Patrick’s Day, with a big green salad on the side.  I love this dish because it’s an easy-to-make casserole that I can prepare a day or two ahead of time and then pop into the oven for a short while just before we’re ready for our tea (dinner).

DSC_0288Traditionally, Shepherd’s Pie is made with lamb but it is equally delicious when made with minced beef (hamburger meat) . Some people put peas and/or carrots into it…some don’t. I put beans in mine for extra texture. It’s really up to you what you do with it. I’ve even seen vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie that looks amazingly yummy {but I have yet to make one…another blog, perhaps.}.

For our pudding (dessert) I will be serving the Guinness Gingerbread my family love so. On Paddy’s Day, I will top it with a sprinkle of icing (powdered) sugar, freshly whipped cream, and a drizzle of Guinness Caramel Sauce. I promise to post the Guinness Caramel Sauce recipe later today or first thing tomorrow morning.

If you want to round this meal out and make it even more “traditional” Irish, you could serve adults a pint of Guinness with the Shepherds Pie (the children could have Rock Shandy, a non-alcoholic drink that is usually half lemon soda, half orange soda), and then serve the adults an Irish Coffee after their pudding (dessert), perhaps with a lovely selection of Irish cheeses.

No matter what you choose to serve on Saint Patrick’s Day, I offer you and yours this gentle blessing:

“May good luck be with you wherever you go…and your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow!”

Shepherd’s Pie

Serves 4-6


1 ½lbs/675g mince lamb or beef

1 large onion, chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced

400g/1 can red kidney beans, drained

400g/1 can chopped tomatoes, drained but reserve the juice

1 heaping tablespoon tomato purée/paste

juice of 1/2 lemon

salt and pepper to taste

2 ½lbs/1,200grams potatoes, peeled and quartered

¾ cup/6oz milk (and a little extra if needed)

4 tablespoons butter, melted

1-2 teaspoons cornflour (cornstarch), if needed


1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F/180°C.

2. Place potatoes in medium saucepan; add water to just cover. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are soft and tip of paring knife inserted into potato meets no resistance, 10 to 20 minutes. Drain potatoes and return to saucepan. Place saucepan on low heat and cook, shaking pot occasionally, until any surface moisture on potatoes has evaporated, (about 1 minute). Remove pan from heat and mash potatoes well. Stir the melted butter and milk into the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add more milk or melted butter if potatoes seem a bit too thick. Cover and set aside.

3. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a heavy saucepan (pot) over medium. Add the onion and cook for about five minutes. Add the red pepper and cook until the onion is softened slightly but the red pepper is still crunchy. (For those who wish, you can substitute carrots for the red pepper.)

4. Add the mince lamb or beef, kidney beans, drained tomatoes, tomato purée, and just enough of the reserved tomato juice to moisten well. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer until all the ingredients are cooked through, about 10-15 minutes. Stir occasionally with a fork and break up any meat chunks. (For those who wish, now is the time to add ½ cup/2oz peas.) If your mince mixture is quite wet, add cornflour one teaspoon at a time to absorb the excess liquid. Mix well.

5. Transfer the mince lamb (or beef) mixture into a pie dish (baking dish or Dutch oven) and cover entirely with an even layer of the mashed potato. With a spoon, seal the edges of the potato to the top of the mince so it doesn’t bubble up and ruin the look of the potato while in the oven. If you’re in the mood to be fancy, score the mashed potatoes with the tip of a spoon (the back tip) to make a wavy pattern.

6. Reheat in the oven until the potato becomes crusty and golden, about 20-30 minutes. Remove and let stand for about 5 minutes before serving.


Related Articles:

A traditional Irish Saint Patrick’s Day here: https://inanirishhome.com/2012/03/14/a-traditional-irish-st-patricks-day/

Irish Coffee and Saint Patrick’s Day here: https://inanirishhome.com/2013/03/27/irish-coffee-and-saint-patricks-day/

St. Patrick’s Day Party Ideas here: https://inanirishhome.com/2012/03/16/st-patricks-day-party-ideas/

What it Really Means to be Irish here: https://inanirishhome.com/2012/03/15/what-it-means-to-really-be-irish/

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