Monday, August 26, 2013

Comforting Shepard's Pie

This time of year, families are transitioning from the carefree summer days to the structured school days. Why does it seem like school is starting earlier than ever before? It seems like it's the time of change with kids going back to school, the shorter days and even how the fall season is just ready to make it's appearance. And with all these changes, nothing changes your life like bringing a bundle of joy into the world. This post is dedicated to my dear friend, Jessica of Sunny Side Up. She and her husband Jesse will be welcoming their little baby girl, Maeve. Maeve is a beautiful name of Irish descent and Jessica used to dance and teach Irish dance. To help Jessica welcome her bundle of joy Irish-style, Krystal of Mrs. Regueiro's Plate and Jessica of My Baking Heart are hosting this virtual baby shower with an Irish theme for Jessica's little Pot of Gold. Doesn't it make you want to do a little Irish jig?!

Since the weather has been cooling down a bit, I couldn't resist making something comforting and perfect for the fall months to come. The Baron is an Irishman himself and it helped that had a hankering for Shepard's Pie, which fit perfectly for this Irish baby shower. This Comforting Shepard's Pie is full of delicious, comforting ingredients that simmer in a rich, flavorful sauce before getting topped with creamy herbed mashed potatoes and baking up in casserole form. It's comforting and makes me long for fall to come soon... almost with as much anticipation Jessica has for Maeve's arrival!

Congratulations Jessica and Jesse - you are going to be amazing parents to Maeve and I'm thrilled that you live so close. I can't wait to meet Maeve soon and do some cooking/baking together! :)

Special thanks go out to Krystal and Jessica for hosting this awesome virtual baby shower. Be sure to check out their blogs tomorrow [Krystal of Mrs. Regueiro's Plate and Jessica of My Baking Heart] for a round up of all the amazing dishes being featured for the baby shower!

Comforting Shepard's Pie

For the meat mixture:
1 1/2 lbs ground beef {80/20}
1 large onion, diced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter
tablespoons flour
1 cup Guinness stout
1 cup red wine
1 cup beef broth
tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons dried basil
teaspoons dried oregano
teaspoons dried sage
1 cup frozen peas, defrosted
salt and pepper to taste
For the potatoes:
2 lbs  Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
4 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups grated white cheddar cheese
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/3 cup chives, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350. 
Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are fork-tender.  Drain and return to pot. Stir in butter and milk, mashing until smooth. Add more milk if needed.  Stir in cheese, parsley and chives; season with salt and pepper. Cover and keep warm.
In a large dutch oven over medium high heat, brown ground beef.  Add onions, carrots and garlic, and sauté until softened. Sprinkle flour over meat and veggies, stirring to coat. Continue to cook for 1 minute then add Guinness, red wine, and beef broth to deglaze the pot. Scrape up the bottom of pot to incorporate the fond for additional flavor.  Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium low.  Add Worcestershire sauce and spices, and continue to simmer for about 15-20 minutes, or until carrots are tender and mixture has thickened. Stir in peas. Pour ground beef and vegetable mixture into a greased casserole dish.  

Spoon potatoes gently over the top of the meat mixture. Feel free to use a fork to add a more rugged top or keep it smooth - your preference.  Bake casserole in the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes, or until potatoes are golden brown and edges are bubbly.