A traditional Irish Shepherd's Pie

Jay H

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Wouldn't a traditional shepherd's pie include ground lamb not ground beef?

When I think of a shepherd, I think of Sheep/Lambs not cows? And it is Ireland or so I tend to think more of sheep herds than cows, especially historically.

Just wondering, all the Shepherd's Pie I've had here have been ground beef...

Jay
 

MarkHastings

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Jay, the Irish pub, around the corner from where I work, uses lamb. That was actually the first time I heard of such a thing - but as you say, it makes perfect sense.

I guess most places use ground beef because it's either cheaper or sells better (i.e. most people would prefer beef to lamb).
 

ChrisMatson

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I made a delicious Shepher's Pie from a ground beef recipe last night!
I have made this one several times and it is really great.
Here is the recipe (from Kells Irish Restaurant and Pub in Portland, OR)


Kells Shepherd's Pie
1 1/2 pounds ground free-range beef
1/2 cup sweet onion, diced
1/2 cup baby carrots, diced
1 to 2 teaspoons garlic, minced or pressed
1/4 cup Guinness draught stout
1/4 cup cabernet wine
7 ounces (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) beef broth
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried sage
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 cup peas, preferably fresh, or frozen (thawed)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Ulster Champ Topping


Brown beef in a Dutch oven or other large heavy saucepot over low to moderate heat. Allow to simmer until cooked throughout, about 5 to 10 minutes. Drain excess fat when cooked and add onion, carrots, garlic, stout, wine, broth, Worcestershire sauce, basil, oregano, sage and marjoram. Stir and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook 15 minutes or until carrots are fork tender. Add peas.


While meat is simmering, bring large pot of water to boil for potatoes.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt butter and stir in flour to make a roux (paste of equal parts butter and flour used to thicken liquids). Slowly incorporate roux into simmering beef mixture until desired thickness is achieved. (If mixture was simmered too long or cooked too high, less roux is needed.) Continue to cook for 5 to 10 minutes to allow roux and flavors to meld. Season with salt and pepper. Remove to a 91/2-inch round casserole dish or deep pie dish.


While meat is simmering, preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare Ulster Champ Topping.

Ulster Champ Topping
11/4 pounds russet potatoes, about 4 medium
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup finely grated Irish white Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely minced
1/3 cup scallions or chives, chopped
Salt and white pepper to taste


Scrub and peel potatoes. Cut into large pieces. In a large pot, simmer potatoes in water until fork tender. Drain well and return pot to low heat to remove excess moisture. Stir in butter and cheese and whip, gradually adding milk, parsley and scallions or chives. Season with salt and pepper.


Spoon potato topping evenly over meat mixture, making irregular peaks with the back of a spoon. Alternatively, use a pastry bag and star tip to pipe potatoes over meat mixture. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until potatoes are golden brown and crusty on edges and mixture is heated throughout.


If desired, place casserole under broiler for 1 to 2 minutes to crisp potato topping. Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly to set, and serve immediately from casserole dish. Serve with HP sauce (Irish-English steak-style sauce), steak sauce or pan gravy, if desired.


Makes 6 to 8 servings.


Note: Pie can be cooked and served in individual baking dishes. Adjust final baking time as needed.
 

McPaul

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It’s a trifle. It’s got all of these layers. First there’s a layer of ladyfingers, then a layer of jam, then custard, which I made from scratch, [Joey and Ross make impressed faces] then raspberries, more ladyfingers, then beef sauteed with peas and onions, [Joey and Ross look like something’s wrong.] then a little more custard, and then bananas, and then I just put some whipped cream on top!
 

Julian Reville

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Way to go Chris, I think I gained 5 pounds just reading that.


My quick and easy recipe for Pseudo-Shepherds Pie:

Brown a 1lb package of ground turkey. If you are eating alone, chop up a Vidalia onion and brown it too.
Mix up a bowl of instant spuds, one of the good brands, none of that house-brand crap.
Put a big thick layer of spuds in the bottom of a oven capable ceramic cooking pan, add a layer of frozen pea & carrots, cover with cooked turkey/onions. Pour a whole can of tomato sauce over this. Grate some cheese on top for color and flavor.
Find your oven and turn it on 350F. Ask your mom how if necessary. Put pie on middle rack and cook it until Monday Night Football comes on, or 1 hour, whichever comes first.
Goes well with hot French bread or cornbread.
 

PhillJones

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Where did you all get the idea that Shepherd's pie is from Ireland? Maybe I'm missinformed but I'm fairly sure it's from Northern England.

Anyway, the name isn't anything to do with what's in it, but a reference to the fact that it was originally cooked by the wives of shepards as a cheap way to reuse leftover meat.

There is also no corn in a traditional Cornish Pasty.
 

andrew markworthy

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There are several theories about the origin of the term 'shepherd's pie' (including an argument that it was invented by someone called Shepherd). The most sensible explanation is that as it was originally a very simple dish (minced meat and onions fried until cooked and then baked under a layer of mashed potato) people thought that it must be 'rustic'. In some parts of the UK it became known as 'shepherd's pie' and in other parts of the country as 'cottage pie'. Generally speaking, the term 'shepherd's pie' is used more in the north of the UK (and also in Eire).

Shepherd's pie used to be a staple midweek meal in many UK households (back when most Brits still cooked proper food at home) and is still regularly seen on Brit factory cafe menus. It can be cooked with any minced (i.e. ground) meat, though beef is traditional. It is, for example, delicious with pork mince (flavoured with a little tomato puree and basil).

The adoption of rustic names for traditional Brit dishes doesn't stop with shepherd's pie. Take the case of the ploughman's lunch. This simply means a large hunk of fresh bread with cheese, pickles, and butter. It is a standard lunchtime meal offered by many UK pubs. The term was invented in the 1950s by a pub chain to make a meal of bread and cheese sound more attractive.

Are you thinking of Irish stew? This is basically a stew made of cheap cuts of meat, onions, potatoes, carrots and any other vegetables that come to hand. Originally the cuts of meat were mutton chops and oysters (at the time the cheap food of the poor) were added to 'bulk out' the meal. However, the term is now used for any filling and cheap stew. It has got to be said in its defence that properly cooked it's delicious.
 

Jay H

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I've seen it on the web as being Scottish too, but typically here in America it is found in Irish pubs and restaurants...

Jay
 

MarkHastings

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No, there is some kind of soup/stew where they would use whatever meat they had (from the day's hunt) and that would be the soup. Perhaps I'm thinking of an American dish, but it was called something like "Shepherd Stew"...
 

PhillJones

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I don't think that 16th century English peasentry did a lot of big game hunting. Perhaps the odd trapped rabbit, but very little of your actual hunting I suspect. They were probably too busy making piles of filth or burning churches.

There certainly wasn't much hunting of sheep going on. I think you'd call that poaching.
 

MarkHastings

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Yeah, it might be confusing it with an old American (Pioneer) stew.

EDIT: Hunter's Stew - that's what I was thinking of! If you search the sites, there are many versions (in different cultures), but they basically say the same thing - it's a way of using leftover meat in a stew.
 

andrew markworthy

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I appreciate the Monty Python reference. With regard to burning churches - not true, but zealots during the Reformation did have a great time removing 'Popish idolatory' such as stained glass windows, wall and ceiling frescoes, over-ornate church furniture, etc. I used to attend a church built in the 12th century which had comprehensively received this treatment. By some miracle, a couple of pieces of medieval stained glass (portraying the Crucifiction) survived. During the summer months congregation members used to take turns acting as guides for visitors at the weekends. The biggest misconception amongst visitors we had to deal with was that the various acts of vandalism were spearheaded by Oliver Cromwell. In fact, nearly all the changes had been enacted during Henry VIII's reign (by Thomas Cromwell).
 

Chu Gai

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The original shepherd's pie was not based on lamb or beef or anything like that. It was based upon ancient cannibalistic practices that occurred in Scotland and by extension, England, centuries ago. From the bookofdays.com I quote...

This was said to be around 380 AD. A tasty treat on a cold day for sure.
 

Chu Gai

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Sweeny Todd...got to love it! You know deep down Jeff that's the answer. Why do you think we give N. Korea all those free grain products not to mention China?
 

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