There aren’t many who haven’t heard of or tasted the classic Irish dish, Shepard’s pie. This hearty dish is typically prepared with lamb and it can be found on most farmhouse and pub menus throughout Ireland. Because Ireland is a country where many sheep farms dot the landscape, lamb finds its way into many recipes as the main ingredient.
Here in the United States we typically prepare “Shepard’s pie” with ground beef. Years ago I made the mistake of preparing my Americanized Shepard’s pie for a friend who happens to be Irish. She promptly corrected my mistake and informed me that if one is using beef in a Shepard’s pie it is now called a Cottage pie. We laughed at my lack of knowledge in Irish recipe titles and then proceeded to eat the glorious beef filled pie. Luckily, my friend declared it the best Cottage Pie she’d ever eaten.
Shepard’s pie and cottage pie are quite literally the same recipe with the exception that one is prepared with ground lamb and the other with ground beef. Although I adore pan seared or grilled lamb chops, I’m not a huge fan of ground lamb so I’ve always used beef. Using pot roast in cottage pie is the tastiest version.
When I slow cook a pot roast I usually double the size of the chuck roast, keeping half for a pot roast dinner and the other half for cottage pie. This makes for a lovely and easy Sunday dinner or a festive meal for dinner guests. Top the cottage pie with Irish cheddar mashed potatoes and this simple Irish country dish is transformed into a celebration.
Pot Roast Cottage Pie with Irish Cheddar Mashed Potatoes
To make the slow cooked Pot Roast:
- 3-4lbs Beef Chuck Roast (or double for two meals)
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1 cup beef broth or beer (a red or cream ale or light lager)
- 1 onion thinly sliced
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- One bunch of assorted fresh herbs (thyme, oregano, rosemary, Italian parsley)
- 1 bay leaf
To make the Cottage pie:
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, small diced
- 1 carrot, diced
- 1 rib of celery, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
- 1 teaspoon of dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1-2 cups beef broth
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
For the Irish Cheddar Mashed Potatoes
- 4 large russet potatoes or 6 medium Yukon gold
- ½ cup butter
- ¼-1/2 cup heavy cream (start with ¼ cup)
- 1 cup shredded Irish cheddar, plus ½ cup for garnish
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
- To prepare the pot roast heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add the tablespoon of oil. Cut the chuck roast in half, or into thirds if it’s over 4lbs, and then season with salt and pepper. When the oil is hot brown the pot roast on all sides and then place it into a slow cooker on low.
- Add the beef broth or beer, sliced onion, garlic, bay leaf and fresh herbs. I don’t use much liquid when I’m slow cooking a chuck roast or a pork shoulder. Because these cuts of meat have a greater amount of fat content, using one cup of liquid allows the meat to cook in its own juices and creates an extremely flavorful roast. Otherwise you’ll end up with a pot roast swimming in liquid and having boiled rather than braised.
- Cover the roast and let it cook on low for about 6 hours for a 3-4lb roast and about 7-8 hours for a larger roast. However, always check for doneness at least one hour prior to the end of cook time as many slow cooker temperatures vary.
- Once the roast is done, transfer to a platter and cool. Lightly shred the roast, adding in any leftover onions and garlic to the meat. Discard the liquid.
- To prepare the Cottage pie, add a few tablespoons of oil to a large skillet over medium heat and then sauté the onions, carrots and celery. Once the vegetables are soft, add the garlic, thyme and Italian parsley and cook for one minute longer. Stir in the 2 tablespoons of flour (or 1tblsp cornstarch for gluten free) and then add one cup of beef broth. When the gravy begins to thicken, add the pot roast pieces and then stir in additional beef broth as needed. You want the pot roast filling to be slightly gravy like. Stir in the peas and then season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Heat the oven to 350F. Pour the filling into a baking dish or individual baking dishes. Top with the Irish mashed potatoes and then garnish with additional shredded cheese and chopped fresh chive. Place the baking dish or dishes into the pre-heated oven and let it cook for about 20-30 minutes until the sides are bubbly and the cheese on the mashed potatoes are melted.
- Let the Cottage pie cool for about 5-10 minutes before serving. Serve with Citrus Rosemary Irish Soda Bread and Kale, Bacon, Apple and Bleu Cheese Salad.
- To make the Irish mashed potatoes, peel and evenly chop the potatoes. Place them in a heavy bottom pot and fill with water, just enough to cover the potatoes. Bring the water to a boil and then simmer for about 5-8 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. The simmer time truly depends on the type of potato as well as the size of the chopped potatoes. Fork test the potatoes about every five minutes so they don’t overcook.
- Once the potatoes are done, drain the water and then add the butter. Mash the potatoes and butter with a potato masher or transfer to an electric mixer. Stir in or using the electric mixer, add the heavy cream and then add the Irish cheddar.
- Season your potatoes with salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste. Spread the Irish mashed potatoes onto the Cottage pie and then garnish with additional Irish cheddar and chopped fresh chives. Bake according to the directions above.
Citrus Rosemary Irish Soda Bread
If there is one thing I love, it’s a delightful bread recipe that can be made quickly and without a lot of fuss. Irish soda bread is a quick bread that uses baking soda and buttermilk as it’s leavening agent instead of yeast. Irish Soda bread recipes are traditionally prepared with currants or raisins and sometimes nuts.
This moist and aromatic recipe includes orange and lemon zest along with fragrant rosemary. It’s so delicious you’ll find yourself making excuses for a second and third slice. A lovely bread to serve with Cottage pie or simply served with butter and a good cup of tea.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 tablespoons of sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 lemon, zested
- 1 orange, zested
- 1 heaping teaspoon finely minced fresh rosemary
- 1 egg
- 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted
- 1 ½ cups buttermilk (more if needed)
- 1 tablespoon Hemp or flax seeds for garnish (optional)
- Pre-heat the oven to 375F. Place parchment on a baking sheet.
- In an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda, lemon and orange zest and rosemary. With the mixer running on low, add the egg, melted butter and about 1 cup of the buttermilk, adding more buttermilk as needed to form a soft dough.
- Turn the dough out onto the parchment lined baking sheet and with damp hands form the dough into a nice round loaf. The wet hands trick makes working with this dough much easier. Sprinkle the top of the dough with seeds and then place the baking sheet into the oven and bake for about 35-40 minutes or until a knife or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. The bread should sound hollow when you tap on it.
- Remove it from the oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.
Kale, Apple, Bacon and Bleu Cheese Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette
This is one of my favorite salads and it always finds its way into my dinner menu throughout the year. These hearty kale greens pair beautifully with this Pot Roast Cottage Pie, balancing the flavors and textures of the beef dish. Along with the earthy flavor of kale, I’ve added sweet apples, smoky bacon and tangy bleu cheese and tossed it all in a gorgeous mustard vinaigrette. Simply delicious and a perfect complement to this classic Irish dish.
- 1 large bunch of kale, trimmed off the stalks and chopped (I used red kale but any type of kale will work)
- 1 large apple, thinly sliced
- 4-6 ounces of bacon, cooked and chopped
- 4 ounces of bleu cheese, crumbled
- ¼ cup sunflower seeds for garnish (optional)
- ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup organic apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon stone ground mustard (or more to taste)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Whisk together the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey and mustard. Most of the time I put it all into a mason jar with a pinch of salt and pepper and then close it with a lid and shake until all the ingredients are nicely combined. But you can whisk the ingredients together as well and then season to taste with salt and pepper.
- In a large bowl, toss some of the dressing with the kale until all the kale leaves are nicely coated. Transfer the dressed kale to a platter or salad bowl and then top with apples, bacon and bleu cheese. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds if desired.