There are many different ways to make this dish, and not just on St. Patrick's Day. In England and Ireland, shepherd's pie is always based on lamb (hence "shepherd"), while ground-beef versions are sometimes called cottage pie instead. At Solas, our authentic Irish pub in Boston, Mass., we serve both lamb and beef versions.
The recipe below calls for the pie to be baked in one large dish, in the traditional manner, but at the restaurant we the serve it in individual portions. We’ll heat up the cast-iron dishes to 400 degrees, add the ingredients, and then broil the top so a crust forms. That way, it arrives to our guests simmering hot.
At $1.66 per serving, this is an inexpensive, not to mention simplified, version of the traditional minced lamb classic. It's also not too different from the Shepherd's Pie my mother used to put together on a cold night; hers had cheese on top but the creamy mashed potatoes make this filling dish rich enough.
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A high number of Irish (compared to other nationalities) seem to be plagued by gluten intolerance/Celiac disease. Apparently, the Irish have conspiracy theories involving the English and Celiac. The leading theory claims that it's due to the fact that the English shipped all the wheat out of Ireland at one point, so the Irish people never got used to eating it.
For whatever reason, eight years ago, almost to the day, I was diagnosed with Celiac disease. And as an American-Irish girl, it was my duty to make a shepherd's pie for St. Patrick's Day, so I had for come up with a couple of easy substitutions. I found it to be daunting.
The year before, I found myself eating the most incredible shepherd’s pie, better than my mother’s, at a pub in the Boston area. (In my eyes, my mother, bless her soul, was the most incredible cook ever.) But back to this newfound shepherd’s pie benchmark that I found at Matt Murphy’s Pub in Brookline, Mass. At first, it looked ordinary with a browned topping of mashed potatoes, but once I dug in, I could see chunks of stew meat and rosemary. This is the version that I had to reproduce.
In my mind, the ultimate shepherd’s pie is a base of tasty lamb stew with lots of rosemary topped with browned creamy mashed potatoes. The only two components that are not gluten-free are the flour and beer. (Easy substitutions as I will get to below.) I suggest drinking a gluten-free beer with it such as Green's dark ale. Brewed in Belgium, it does not quite resemble an Irish Stout beer, but it is close enough.
This healthier version of Shepherd’s Pie combines turkey, cranberries, and green beans for a tasty filling that's topped off with creamy sweet potatoes. This recipe is courtesy of Chef Glenn Lyman for BJ’s Wholesale Club.
In the English tradition, a cook uses leftover beef or lamb from last night's roast to make this hearty casserole. For the most basic shepherd's pie, you sauté some fresh vegetables, add in meat taken off the bone, and then add any jus or gravy to thicken up the filling and make it a little saucy. You put this filling into an oven-safe casserole dish, top it off with mashed potatoes, dot with butter, and bake until the topping gets a nice roasted brown hue.
What you don't know about shepherd's pie is that it is the perfect dish in which to use those Thanksgiving leftovers because there is no set recipe. Your shepherd's pie is based on what's available in the fridge the morning after Turkey Day. Personally, I like to go with very traditional flavors on Thanksgiving, and then go a little cross-cultural with the leftovers. So here is an Asian-inspired take on Shepherd's pie.
This dish is an absolutely must-try for all of you vegans/vegetarians who sometimes miss the taste of meat. Yes, this recipe takes a little longer to prepare but it is definitely worth it! Try it and let me know if you liked it as much as I did.
This hearty casserole is a favorite in Ireland, where it was whipped up during the coldest of winters. As its name suggests, it was originally made with lamb or mutton, but these days you may be more familiar with it being made with beef. For a healthier version, try using ground chicken.Click here for more of the 101 Best Slow Cooker Recipes