Happy St. Patrick’s Day, a few days late… But that was the inspiration for this one. We were getting together with some friends, and their kids, and it was our turn for dinner. I wanted to do something Irish inspired, but also that the kids would like… so Corned Beef and Cabbage was out. In browsing through Pinterest, I found this https://www.delishplan.com/traditional-irish-shepherds-pie/. I tweaked it a little and doubled the recipe because there were going to be 11 people total, so I figured we needed more, but it still fit in the 9×13 (mine is pretty deep though and it did fill it). I will point the adjustments out as I go through, and it did turn out amazing! I also made “The Bread” from the Pioneer Woman’s Dinnertime book. So AMAZING! P.S. ignore the time for the shepherd’s pie, it took me a bit longer to prepare than just 35 minutes… maybe next time will be quicker, but I was busting my bum and it took me over an hour.
If you are going to bake this immediately, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. I made everything, and then took it to a friend’s house to bake, so I didn’t preheat.
Start by making the mashed potatoes. Dice up about 2 lbs of potatoes (I used Yukon gold potatoes, and since they are kind of smaller, I picked one out per person, and one for the pot… something my Granny always told me to do). Put them in a deep pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil over the stove. Boil till fork tender, (about 15 minutes or so depending on how finely you diced them).
While those are boiling, prepare the rest of your stuff. Pull your 2 lbs of ground beef out of the refrigerator, finely dice 4 carrots and 1 large onion, mince 4 cloves of garlic (I added this because we love garlic), pull 2 tsp worth of fresh thyme leaves off the stems, and rinse 2 C of frozen green beans under warm water to start thawing them out (the recipe calls for peas, but we hate peas, so I exchanged it for green beans, I stuck with frozen so I didn’t have to cut them into small pieces, the frozen ones come that way). You will also need to grab the tomato paste, flour, red wine (and open it), beef broth (I substituted beef for chicken broth because it made more sense to me), olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, 1 egg (I skipped this), Parmesan Cheese, and Salt and Pepper.
By now, the potatoes should be done, or close to it. When they are, drain them and return them to the same pan. Add about 1 stick (1/2 C) of butter (salted), and a good splash of 1/2 and 1/2 (or heavy cream, or milk, your choice). Start mashing away till they get to the consistency you like. I like lumpy potatoes, so I just use a masher till I get tired and call it done when they are creamy with a few lumps, but I have a friend who uses a hand mixer to whip them because she hates lumpy potatoes. To each their own 🙂 Once they are done, cover with a lid and set aside.
NOTE: if you leave your potatoes in a bigger dice, they will take longer to cook, so you can start the filling anytime you want, no need to wait for the potatoes, just don’t forget about them.
Now we work on the filling. Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the carrots and cook 2-3 minutes (till they start to get tender). Stir in the onions and garlic, and sauté another minute or so till the garlic is fragrant. Add the 2 lbs of ground beef and start mixing it in with the veggies and cooking the meat till it is nicely browned. Drain off the excess liquid and return to the pan. Over medium heat, add the green beans and 2 tbsp. butter. Stir till the butter is melted, then sprinkle the mixture with 4 tbsp. of flour. Stir to combine. Add 4 tbsp. tomato paste, 1/2 C red wine, and 4 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce. Cook till the mixture reduces slightly, then add 2 C beef broth (I might go less, maybe 1 1/2 C instead of 2 next time because it was a little too saucy for the potatoes to stay on top and it made the oven messy, but another option would be to have cooked it down a little longer). Allow the mixture to thicken, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Now we build! In a slightly greased dish (I used temptations cookware so nothing sticks so I skipped this step), pour the meat mixture into the 9×13 deep dish and spread it evenly across the bottom. Carefully spoon mashed potatoes over the top, and then spread it across making a nice thick covering. If you are traveling to cook this like I did at someone else’s house, I covered at this point and packed it up to go. If not, keep chugging. Just before putting in the oven, brush the surface with a beaten egg (this is what I skipped), and then grate fresh parmesan cheese over the top of the whole thing (or sprinkle the pre-grated stuff, it all eats the same). Bake for 20 minutes, then let sit while you make the bread.
Once you put the casserole in the oven, take a nice fresh French bread loaf and cut it in half length wise (or 2 since we had a good amount of people and everyone loves this stuff). Lay it out on a foil lined, rimmed if you have it, baking sheet. You will need about 1/2 C of butter (salted), softened for each half of bread. (so for 2 full loafs, we needed 2 C of butter). Carefully spread each stick (1/2 C) over the bread being sure to make it all the way to the edges and being sure that it is all covered. Once ready, let sit till you take the casserole out of the oven. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees, and put one tray in. Let that cook for 5-10 minutes, til the butter is all nice and soaked in, then turn the oven to broil, and keep an eye on it. It only takes a couple minutes to get a nice toasty brown on the top and it take less than a minute for it to burn. Once you see the perfect golden color, pull that one out, reset your oven to 350 and do the next sheet (if you have one).
Slice the bread, serve up the casserole, and enjoy every bite!