It was time to take a break from more exotic travels and recently, had the opportunity to visit the beautiful, rolling countryside of Ireland. As always, I tried to find some spices but when in Ireland, it’s time to visit the pubs and try the local cuisine. Drink the Irish-produced warm Guinness beer. Soak up the atmosphere.
Although the specials of the day were posted in the window of this particular pub, there were really only two dishes I wanted to try. One was fish and chips (made with traditional mushy peas), the other was Cottage Pie. I remember my mother making Shepherd’s Pie when I was growing up, which was seasoned ground beef topped with mashed potatoes but in Ireland, Shepherd’s Pie is made with lamb. The ground beef version there is called Cottage Pie. I found a basic authentic recipe of Irish Cottage Pie and I was inspired to emulate the dinner I had at the pub.
I had to share with you the ‘brown sauce’ that came to the table for seasoning anything that was at the pub. A similar product that is available here is HP sauce, a spicy substitute for ketchup.
This recipe is great comfort food. The ingredients for the filling are beef broth (i made it from salt-free bouillon), ground beef, ketchup, chopped onions, parsley, thyme and sage.
Additional vegetables of cubed carrots and frozen peas. Soften the onion and carrots in oil.Add the ground beef and brown. Drain the fat. Add the peas, parsley, thyme, sage, parsley, broth and ketchup and simmer until all the vegetables are softened and the filling has thickened.Peel a few potatoes.Boil and mash.Assemble the pie in a baking dish. Beef filling on the bottom, topped with the mashed potatoes. Score the potato for presentation with a fork and baste a little oil on top; this will enhance the finished presentation. Yum, yum. Good old homing cooking with Irish memories.
As I was working on this version of Cottage Pie, the National Post newspaper showcased Bonnie Stern’s Shepherds Pie (my version of Shepherd’s Pie growing up) as wholesome comfort food…and I agree. Enjoy on a cold winter’s evening.
Irish Cottage Pie
- 2 lbs. ground beef
- 1 tbsp. oil
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 3 chopped carrots
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 cup beef stock or 1 cup bouillon
- 1 cup of ketchup
- 1/2 tsp. thyme
- 1/4 tsp. sage
- 1 tbsp. chopped parsley
- salt and pepper
- 5 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 1 tbsp. oil
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
Sauté onions until tender, and then add chopped carrots and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Add beef until browned, drain any fat, and then add the peas, thyme, sage and parsley, ketchup and beef stock. Season with salt and pepper. Keep stirring until warmed through and thickened. Take off heat and put aside while the potatoes are being prepared.
Boil the potatoes in salted water until soft. Mash until smooth and consistent.
Put beef filling in the bottom of a serving dish and top with mashed potatoes (scoring them with a fork.) Dab with a little oil and bake uncovered in 375-degree oven for 30-40 minutes.