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Although it may be difficult to muster up feelings of celebration on this year’s St. Patrick’s Day, I am using this time at home to treat my family to some true comfort food, and luckily the traditional foods from Ireland are simply that: comforting and delicious. 

Related Reading: A History of Shepherd’s Pie

Casseroles are perfect for any occasion, but when this holiday rolls around I often crave shepherd’s pie. A savory ground meat base blanketed with creamy, cheesy mashed potatoes and a mix of vegetables, shepherd’s pie lets you enjoy all food groups in one skillet. If you decide to use ground beef instead of lamb, no worries, however the name does, in fact, change. According to the Irish, shepherd’s pie is made with lamb or mutton, and cottage pie (the British version) is made with ground beef. No matter the name, it’s still wonderfully simple and comforting, thanks in large part to the fact that the dish is baked in the same skillet that the meat is cooked in. To make things easy, I serve it up straight from the pan so clean up is a cinch.

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Since we are cooking from the pantry more than ever these days, feel free to swap the ground lamb for whatever you’ve got stored away in the freezer: Pork or turkey will do in a pinch. You can also change up the vegetables based on what you were able to grab at the grocery store. Frozen carrots, onions, and peas are completely acceptable. Have some mushrooms lying around? Saute them up! This is a true pantry meal. Even better?  Make a double batch and freeze the leftovers—it doesn’t have to be a holiday to enjoy this hearty dish.

Skillet Shepherd’s Pie

Skillet Shepherd's Pie

Serves: 6
  • For the topping: 2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch discs
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ½ cup grated cheddar cheese, divided
  • ¼ cup cream cheese
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • For the base: 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 strips bacon, cut into thin strips (lardons)
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and minced
  • 1 lb ground lamb or beef
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1/8 cup fine flour (I like Wondra)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place potato discs in a pot of cold water, just enough to cover and bring to a boil.
  3. Cook until fork tender, about 10 minutes.
  4. While potatoes are cooking, heat a 10 or 12-inch cast iron (or oven safe skillet) to medium heat. Add olive oil and bacon and cook until crisp.
  5. Add onion and carrot and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes, until onion is translucent and carrots have softened.
  6. Push veggies and bacon to the sides of the pan and add the ground meat. Sprinkle on the garlic powder, salt, add ketchup and worcestershire sauce. Break up the meat with a spoon and incorporate the bacon and veggies.
  7. Add the peas and beef broth and mix to incorporate.
  8. Add the flour and mix to coat all the ingredients until the flour dissolves.
  9. Turn off the heat and set aside.
  10. When the potatoes are done, mash and add all the ingredients (reserving ¼ cup of the cheddar cheese) and mix to combine.
  11. Spread the potatoes over the meat base.
  12. Sprinkle the remaining grated cheese over the potatoes.
  13. Place in the oven for 15 minutes.
  14. Broil for 5 minutes.
  15. Serve immediately.

Header image by Anna Gass.

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