FOOD !, History, Ireland, Recipes, Traditions

A Poor Man’s Dish, That Every Man Loves

medieval taste

The Shepard’s Pie is a loved dish throughout Ireland and across the British Isle. It’s origins stemming from the Middle Ages when minced meat pies were in favor.  Most likely the invention of a frugal housewife, the term “Shepard’s Pie” is not seen in a written context until 1870, according to The Oxford Companion To Food, Allan Davis [Oxford University Press]1999. A relatively “new” dish in comparison, the potato is the Pie’s defining component.

The potato was only first introduced by Spanish explores into Europe’s kitchens from the new world in the 16th century. The French and Irish being the first to recognize the importance the potato had in feeding it’s poor masses.image

It took over 100 years before the potato found it’s place on the menu as a standard vegetable of choice…..and in many cases survival.

Shepard’s pie is traditionally defined as a dish of minced lamb and vegetables topped with mashed potatoes. If one uses minced beef the dish would then be considered “Cottage Pie”. No matter what your choice of meat; lamb, beef, pork, chicken, rabbit, pheasant- Shepard’s Pie is a delicious way to repackage the leftovers from your Sunday dinner feast!

Patricia's delicious Shepherds Pie
Patricia’s delicious Shepherds Pie

A GUIDE to Patricia’s Shepard Pie

(amounts will vary with your needs and resources. Patricia does not use a recipe, so take the following as a sort of instructional guide for your own culinary creation)

Equal parts small cut size Carrots, Potatoes, Onions, with less amounts of Celery & Garlic

Lightly oil the mixture of veg then “sweat” in a hot pan

Blend in small amount of Tomato Purée

Almost cover with broth, add herbs such as Thyme, Sage, Parsley, Bay

(at this point I personally add a small portion of stout beer-Guinness is my first choice, of course! You could also add a bit of red wine.

Bring pot to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook till liquid is reduced by half. Salt & Pepper to taste.

If you like your filling more dense then use a thickener (corn starch, arrow root, a flour roux)

You can now allow this to cool over night or proceed to excellence …

Transfer this delicious stew of vegetables to a casserole dish, top with a layer of creamy, fluffy, mash potatoes and slow bake in an oven at 300*F till potato top is browned a bit. (I also like to put sharp cheddar and diced chives in my mash before topping off and baking)

Enjoy! I would love to hear back from any of you that created your own unique Shepard’s Pie masterpiece!

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