Apron Free Cooking ~ Shepherd’s Pie
By Noel Lizotte
March means spring, basketball and St. Patrick’s Day. Not necessarily in that order. In Ohio, March is usually just a tease about spring. We’re as likely to have a blizzard as crocuses. If you’re a basketball fan, then the madness of playoff games takes hold and you probably wouldn’t notice a blizzard. It’s the St. Patrick’s Day that is the March big deal for my family.
When my kids were little, they learned that their great grandmother come over from Ireland on the boat. That fact, combined with a few leprechaun legend stories convinced them to embrace their Irish heritage and St. Patrick’s Day. We read books about Ireland. We dressed in green clothes. We ate Irish food. All in celebration of the priest leading the snakes out of Ireland.
One of our favorite Irish meals is Shepherd’s Pie. You’ll like the simplicity of this one dish meal and its savory flavors. This recipe is our interpretation of the traditional meal.
1 lb ground meat
2 large eggs
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pkg (10 ounces) frozen mixed vegetables
3 large potatoes
½ cup milk
3 TB butter
1 ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the potatoes in 1 inch chunks and place in a pan of water. Bring to a boil and cook until you can easily poke them with a fork. While the potatoes are cooking, in a large bowl mix the ground meat, eggs and salt and pepper. Spread the meat mixture in an 8x8 inch baking dish and pat into an even layer. Spread the frozen vegetables evenly over the meat. Drain the cooking water from the potatoes and place them in a bowl. Mash the potatoes with the milk and butter. Spread the mashed potatoes over the vegetables in the baking dish. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese on top the mashed potatoes. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
Make it a Meal: Serve with a side salad and rolls for a complete meal. If you want to have a traditional Irish meal, serve with some buttermilk biscuits and a side of colcannon, (cooked cabbage).
Approximate Nutritional Information: Servings Per Recipe: 9, Amount Per Serving: Calories: 295, Total Fat: 17g, Cholesterol: 99mg, Sodium: 211mg, Total Carbs: 19g, Protein: 17g.
Variations: We use ground beef in our shepherd’s pie, since it’s readily available in my local grocery stores. You can follow the more traditional recipe and use ground lamb. If you have other ground meat in your freezer, then use what’s on hand.
Since this dish is a favorite at my house, when the kids are home, I double this recipe and bake it in a 9x13 baking dish. If you wanted to do some batch cooking, I’d suggest doubling the recipe and baking it in two 8x8 pans, or four 8x5x3 loaf pans. Serve one pan for supper on March 17 and wrap the extra pans in foil. Let then cool completely and then freeze them for dinner another night.
Noel Lizotte is breaking free of corporate stress with convenience cooking! This recipe is similar to ones printed in her cookbook Apron Free Cooking which is available on the website www.apronfreecooking.com.