A little pinchin’ in the kitchen goes a long way

Published 10:03 pm Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Happy St. Patrick’s Day – a day of Irish inspired dishes, kissing everyone who thinks they’re Irish, and everyone turning green to avoid being pinched.

In observance of the day, I’m giving you a couple of my lucky dishes.

Shepherd’s Pie for Four

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For the potatoes:

2 pounds potatoes. I like Yukon golds, peeled and cubed

2 Tbs sour cream or softened cream cheese

1 large egg yolk

half cup heavy cream

For the filling:

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil

1 and three-fourths pounds ground beef (the Irish use ground lamb)

1 carrot, peeled and chopped

2 shallots, or 1 onion, diced

1 clove or small section of garlic, diced

2 Tbs butter

2 Tbs all-purpose flour

1 cup beef stock

2 tsp Worcestershire

half cup frozen peas, do not use canned

For the topping:

1 tsp paprika

2 tbs chopped fresh parsley leaves

For the potatoes: Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender, about 10 to 12 minutes. Drain well and pour them into a large mixing bowl. Combine sour cream, egg yolk and cream and mash until the potatoes are almost smooth.

For the filling: While the potatoes are boiling, preheat a large skillet over medium high heat.

Add oil to a hot pan with beef. Season the meat with salt and pepper. I like to add a little paprika, too. Brown meat. Add chopped carrots, diced shallots and garlic to the meat. Cook veggies and meat 5 minutes, stirring frequently. In a second small skillet, over medium heat, cook butter and flour together for 2 minutes. Whisk in stock and Worcestershire sauce. Thicken gravy for one minute. Add gravy to meat and veggies. Stir in peas.

Preheat your broiler to high. Fill a small oval or rectangular casserole dish with the meat and veggie mix. Spoon or pipe potatoes over meat evenly. Top the with the paprika and broil 6 to 8 inches from the heat until potatoes are evenly browned. Top casserole dish with chopped parsley and serve.

If you like cheese on everything like my family does, add some grated sharp cheddar on top of the meat and veggie mixture before adding the potatoes on top.

When you plate it, you can see all the cheesy goodness.

To truly top off your Irish themed dinner make some Irish potato candy ahead off time for dessert.

They are great with a good cup of coffee. Go ahead and kiss the cook today, even if they are not Irish!

Until next time, have fun in the kitchen, experiment and indulge your cravings.

Laura Clements is the pastry chef at Napoleon’s.