Colcannon Shepards Pie

I have notoriously loved St. Patrick's Day for a long time. I have no valid reason for this except that I love a good party and the Irish seem to know how to do those pretty well.

Back in my post-college youth (wow is it time to kiss that goodbye? I refuse) I donned a green wig from the party supply and attended the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Manhattan a few years in a row. Even took the day off work if necessary. I'd leave early and come back in the wee hours (no pun intended) of the following morning hardly worse for wear because I was mostly invincible then.

Now I'd rather not, I am a saved woman. Sanctified, if you will. Too many fights, brawls and hazards you need to avoid at your feet. I'm a much more low-key kinda lady these days. Emphasis 'lady'.

Annually I do cook dinner in celebration and acknowledgement, I have always cooked corned beef and cabbage because it's traditional but tradition be damned on occasion.

Shepard's Pie is one of my favorite things ever and I've spent a long time mastering the recipe. In the states it's usually made with ground beef, but it's called "Shepard's" pie, for a reason. It's traditionally made with lamb. Now, lamb was cheaper meat, while beef was more costly while now we have the reverse of that, so it makes sense that in the true tradition of this dish you'd make it with the cheaper cut of meat. Here I use half lamb and half beef to split the difference and deepen the flavor profile. You can feel free to use all beef or all lamb, but buy the leanest ground beef you can get your hands on.

Colcannon has origins in Halloween celebrations. As something like a King Cake of fortune bearing edibles, it was often mixed with tokens that would predict your future for the year ahead - a button to remain a bachelor, a thimble to remain a 'spinster', a ring for a marriage. Colcannon is typically a side dish but we'll pile it onto our Shepard's pie because why not double down on two good things.

My colcannon has both kale and cabbage, but if you hate one of those simply double up on the other without regret.

Typically you'll find my recipes make smaller portions but this one is family sized, feel free to cut it in half. This easily serves 6.

If you're looking for something to celebrate this year, try this! But don't add any buttons.

Beef/Lamb Mix
2 tbsp neutral oil
1 lb lean ground beef
1 lb ground lamb
1 large onion, diced
1/2 cup beef stock + additional 1/2 cup reserved
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
2 tbsps flour
1 large carrot diced, about 1 cup
1/2 cup frozen peas

In a heavy bottom pot or dutch oven add oil and heat over medium heat until shimmering. Add lamb and beef, breaking up with a wooden spoon, stirring occasionally until browned.

Carefully drain most of the fat from the pot into a safe container, return the pot to the heat and add onion and 1/2 cup beef stock.

Once the onions have begun to soften add garlic, bay leaf, rosemary and thyme. Lower heat and cover for 10 minutes. Add tomato paste and stir, once mixed add 2 tbsps flour and stir to coat until flour is no longer visible. Add remaining 1/2 cup of beef broth and wine. Bring to a slow simmer while scraping up any browned bits on the bottom, add carrots and cover for 20 minutes. Stir in frozen peas just before transferring to a 9x5 baking dish and smooth the meat mixture in evenly across the bottom and into the corners.

Colcannon Mash
1 1/2 to 2 lbs russet of yukon gold potatoes
5 slices of bacon
1 leek, white and light greens sliced
3 cups kale, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups cabbage, cored and chopped
3/4 cup milk or heavy cream
4 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt

Peel and boil potatoes in a large pot. In another, also large enough to hold your potatoes, fry 5 slices of bacon until crisp. Remove bacon to a paper towel. add leeks to the bacon fat and stir until wilted, add kale and cabbage and saute until tender.

Transfer the vegetable mix to a blender or food processor and blitz a few times to combine and chop. Alternatively you can finely chopped all of the vegetables before sautéing but remove vegetables to a separate bowl while mashing potatoes to ensure a smooth mash.

Drain potatoes and mash them with milk and butter until smooth and fluffy. Add salt and then adjust to taste. Crumble 3-4 slices of bacon and add it to the potatoes along with the vegetable mixture, reserving what is left for the topping. Stir to combine with a spoon. If you stop here you can serve this as a side with the remaining bacon crumbled a top.

Use a spoon to dollop colcannon across the top of the meat mixture and gently smooth it evenly across. Leave a few small venting holes near the corners and the middle in case of spill over. Crumble remaining bacon. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

To make ahead, cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate. Bake covered for 30 minutes and uncovered for 20.

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