Wednesday, 26 March 2014

St Patrick’s Day Shepherds Pie and random musings on corned beef

I’m late as ever to hop on to the Bandwagon. St Paddy’s Day. When I was a uni this used to be a big deal in my life. Now it’s not. I think the Americans get way more excited than the English about this day. The only whiff of it I got were a few random big hats on drunken men as I walked through London on the actual day. That and the huge amount of people mentioning it in blogs; American blogs of course. Lots of green food and corned beef. American corned beef looks so much different from English corned beef;

English Corned Beef

Mainly used in sandwiches and corned beef hash

American Corned beef

Apparently you guys have it with cabbage?!
The mind boogles. And what I really want to know is what is Irish corned beef? Whose right and who’s wrong. Thank goodness for Google and these dudes have explained the differences to me. Thank you Google.

Anyho, I digress, which is standard for me, sometimes I even interrupt myself, it’s not great. The entire paddy’s day chat made me think of another classic Irish recipe – Shepherds Pie. I remember having this a lot as a child and its one very easy but yummy dish. And anything with mash potato on has my vote. The layer of leeks really adds a different dimension to the dish and I recommend you give it a go, you wont look back. I make my shepherds pie with beef mince rather than lamb – which technically makes it cottage pie but I grew up knowing this as shepherds pie and so shepherds pie it remains.
So here’s the thing about my Shepherds Pie - I keep it so very simple. No fancy herbs and spices. No peas in with the mince, no twists or turns. This is simplicity at its best, meaty and comforting and very easy to make.

Shepherds Pie

Serves approx 4

500g Beef Mince
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
500ml stock (beef preferable but chicken or veg will work fine)
2TBSP tomato puree
Few dashes of Worcester sauce
Couple of gluts of red wine
1TSP Marmite (the British in me shines through, this is optional of course)
2 leeks
3TBSP Butter
Milk, I used skimmed
Grated cheese, I used strong Irish cheddar

Start by sautéing the onions and carrots in a bit of oil over a medium heat. Once they have softened add in the mince and let it brown off. Add in the wine and the tomato puree and let it reduce by about half. Add in the stock, Worcester sauce and marmite and then allow it to simmer gently for a good 30-45mins. Season.

 In the mean time boil up some potatoes (I used a couple of big potatoes) and then mash them with a couple TBSP of butter, milk, a twist of salt and lots of black pepper.

As well as this, melt 1TBSP butter and a dash of oil in a pan and cook of the leeks until they are soft. I added a bit of wine to help them along!

Take an oven proof dish and spread out the mince mixture, then put the leeks on top and spread them out and then top with mash potato. Sprinkle with the cheese and then place in an oven 180° for about 30mins or if you’ve chilled it first then put it in for 45 mins or so until it is hot and bubbling.

I always had this with peas or baked beans when I was little and lots of tomato ketchup. This time I had with broccoli and sprouts and lots of tomato ketchup!

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