With St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, our thoughts start drifting to classic Irish foods, like Shepherd’s Pie. There are few meals that make my family happier than a meat and potatoes meal – and when the meat and the potatoes co-exist in one homey comfort food, let’s just say happiness and goodwill abound. And then, wait….there’s cheese!
This version of Shepherd’s Pie calls for ground lamb, readily available in most supermarkets. If you have a tight relationship with your butcher, ask him or her to grind it fresh. This pie was actually created in Ireland as a way to use up leftover lamb probably over a century ago, in the spirit of economy (a similar pie exists in England, called Cottage Pie, but that version uses beef).
Cheesy Mashed Potatoes
Shepherd’s Pie is traditionally topped with mashed potatoes. And while plain old mashed potatoes are delicious – CHEESY mashed potatoes are just all that much more rock-and-roll. Which is why when my friends at Roth asked me what I felt like making with their cheeses this spring, visions of cheese-laced mashed potatoes topping a savory meat pie sprang to mind.
I picked two cheeses to blend into creamy mashed potatoes to give them that extra pop of flavor and the slightest of cheese pulls when you life up a forkful of the pie. Plain Havarti for its delicate creamy freshness, and aged Organic Cheddar for its tangy richness. (And I might try Jalapeno Havarti instead of plain for a little fist pump of heat next time). Seriously I thought the boyfolk in my house might weep. Also this pie says serves 6….but that night it served 3.
Using Leftover Lamb in Shepherd’s Pie
While ground lamb makes this a pie to make any night of the week, do think of this recipe any time you make a roast of lamb, whether it’s a shoulder or a leg or a loin. Try very hard to make sure there are leftovers, and then dice them finely and use them in this comfort food pot pie.
Other beefy, cheesy dinners:
This post has been sponsored by Roth Cheese. All the opinions expressed herein are my own.
Cheesy Mashed Potato Topped Shepherd’s Pie
- 3 large all-purpose potatoes peeled and halved (about 2 pounds)
- Kosher salt to taste
- 1 ½ pounds ground lamb
- 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter divided
- 1 cup chopped onion
- ½ cup chopped carrots
- ½ cup chopped celery
- ½ cup chopped fennel
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 ¼ cups whole milk divided
- ½ cup chicken broth
- ½ cup fresh or frozen corn
- ½ cup fresh or frozen peas
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ cup shredded Roth Organic Cheddar
- ½ cup shredded Roth Havarti
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Place the potatoes in a medium-sized saucepan and add cold water to cover. Salt the water, then place over high heat until the water simmers. Lower the heat to medium-high and continue to simmer, partially covered, until the potatoes are very tender, about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, spray a large skillet with nonstick cooking spray and heat over medium high heat. Add the lamb and cook, stirring frequently to break up the meat, until brown and crumbly, about 5 minutes. Turn into a colander and carefully wipe out the skillet.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in the same large skillet over medium high heat, and when it is melted, sauté the onion, carrots, celery, fennel, garlic and thyme and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes until the vegetables are lightly golden and tender. Add the flour and stir until it coats the vegetables about 1 minute. Stir in the lamb, and then 1/2 cup of the milk and the broth and cook until the liquid thickens and coats the mixture as sauce, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Stir in the corn and peas, and season with salt and pepper. Add the Worcestershire sauce and continue cooking until everything is well combined and hot, about 3 minutes. Turn the mixture into a 9-inch deep dish pie pan.
- Drain the cooked potatoes. In the saucepan you used to cook the potatoes, heat the remaining 3/4 cup milk and the remaining 2 tablespoons butter until barely simmering. Put the cooked potatoes through a food mill, a ricer, or use a potato masher to mash and add them to the simmering milk. Stir in the cheddar and havarti, season with salt and pepper and stir to blend well, until the cheese is melted and incorporated. Spread the mashed potatoes evenly over the lamb mixture in the pie pan. Use a spoon to make nice wavy peaks and valleys in the potatoes; the peaks will then get nicely browned and beautiful in the baking.
- Bake for 15 minutes until the top is set and a bit colored. If you want the top a bit more browned you can run it under the broiler for a minute or two, but keep a close eye on it so it doesn’t get too brown. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
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