In case you didn’t hear, St. Patrick’s Day is this weekend!
I actually didn’t hear, and had to Google “St. Patrick’s Day 2013″ to find out when it was after seeing a festive St. Patty’s day commercial on TV last week. Apparently it’s the same date every year. Who knew?
Anyways, this is good news because although I can’t sip on a Guinness or green tinted beer this year, it means it’s time to concoct my annual twist on a classic Shepherd’s Pie, whee!
It’s the little things…
Shepherd’s Pie is a staple in traditional Irish cooking, combining meat and potatoes to create an inexpensive and hearty meal. And, as I mentioned, every year I make a version of the dish around St. Patrick’s Day to celebrate the holiday. With Shepherd’s Pie. That’s right.
In 2011 I made a classic Baked Shepherd’s Pie, and last year I made the same but with a healthy mashed potato topper (ridiculous!) This year I’m turning the dish on its head and deconstructing it a bit to make Shepherd’s Pie Meatballs & Mashed Potatoes. It is the year of the meatball, after all!
Fluffy mashed potatoes are topped with seasoned-then-baked, savory meatballs, and then smothered with a luxurious pan-gravy studded with veggies. Shepherd’s Pie all mixed up!
Ben was positively salivating as I described the dish to him when I was writing the recipe, and it turned out even better than we imagined. Scrumptious, hearty, and cozy. Meat and potatoes at their finest!
Start with the mashed potatoes. I think a lot of people believe mashed potatoes are hard or time consuming to make since they’re often associated with big holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas, but they’re actually super easy as they kind of just cook themselves. I make them about once a week for Ben and myself!
First peel then chop 2lbs potatoes, which is about 2 large potatoes.
Tip: I always place a plastic bag around the faucet then peel my potatoes right it for easy cleanup. Same for pineapple. And cantaloupe, and watermelon. Oh summer melons, I can’t wait!
Place the potatoes into a large pot of lightly-salted, cold water then bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender, but not mushy. If you over cook ‘em you’ll have grainy mashed potatoes, and nobody wants that to happen.
Once the potatoes are tender, drain them in the sink then return the pot to the stove over low heat. Melt 2 Tablespoons butter in 1/3 cup milk (I used skim) then season with lots of salt & pepper. Add the potatoes then mash until smooth.
Place a lid on top to keep the potatoes warm while you work on the other parts of the dish. Onto the meatballs!
While the potatoes are cooking, grate 1/2 onion into a large bowl. You could definitely mince it but I’ve got an onion-crunch hater in the house so I always grate mine.
To the grated onion add 1lb lean ground beef. Beef, like eggs, is another protein I don’t show too often here on the blog, but Ben and I also eat it about once a week. Beef is relatively inexpensive, depending on the cut, and truly helps with my low iron levels. Plus it makes the man happy. ;) If nothing else, we always have it in our weekly Monday night-spaghetti night meat sauce, which is a tradition I picked up from my Mom!
Next add 1 egg and 2 minced garlic cloves.
Followed by 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce which I always keep in the fridge as it’s the perfect seasoning sauce. If something tastes off in a dish, or like it needs a little but of oomf, add Worcestershire sauce. It’s always the answer!
Season with lots of salt & pepper then add 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs to hold everything together.
Combine the mixture with your hands then shape into 16 meatballs and place onto a non stick-sprayed cooling rack set atop a foil-lined baking sheet. Don’t forget the nonstick spray or you’ll be sorry! I did, and I was. Pop the meatballs into a 400 degree oven for 20-22 minutes, or until cooked through then get workin’ on the veggie-filled pan-gravy to smother on top of all this good stuff.
Start by melting 2 Tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat then whisk in 3 Tablespoons flour until smooth.
Let the flour cook for a few minutes, or until golden brown, then slowly whisk in 14oz beef broth until smooth. Then add in 1 Tablespoon each Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce.
Switch to a wooden spoon then let the sauce cook until thick and bubbly, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Finally, add 2 cups frozen vegetables and let them cook until tender, about 2-3 minutes.
Scoop some mashed potatoes onto a plate, top with 4 meatballs and a ladleful of that rich, flavor-packed gravy, then dig in!
Shepherd’s Pie Meatballs & Mashed Potatoes
For the mashed potatoes:
2lbs potatoes (about 2 large potatoes), peeled & chopped
1/3 cup milk (or a little more or less depending on your preferred consistency)
2 Tablespoons butter
salt & pepper
For the meatballs:
1lb lean ground beef
1/2 small onion, grated or minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
salt & pepper
For the gravy:
2 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons flour
14oz beef broth
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cups frozen vegetable medley
- Add potatoes to a large pot of lightly-salted cold water. Bring to a boil then cook until potatoes are tender, but not mushy. Drain then return empty pot to stove over low heat. Melt butter in milk then season with salt & pepper. Add drained potatoes then mash until smooth. Turn off heat then place a lid on top of the pot to keep potatoes warm.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine meatballs ingredients in a large bowl then mix with hands until just combined. Divide mixture into quarters then roll four meatballs out of each quarter. Place meatballs onto a non stick-sprayed cooling rack set atop a foil-lined baking sheet then bake for 20-22 minutes, or until cooked through.
- Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat then sprinkle in flour and whisk until smooth. Cook until mixture is golden brown, about 2 minutes. then slowly stream in beef broth while whisking constantly. Add soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce then switch to a wooden spoon and cook until sauce is thick and bubbly, about 5-7, minutes stirring often. Add frozen vegetables and lots of pepper then cook until vegetables are tender and heated through, about 2-3 minutes.
- Scoop mashed potatoes onto plates then top with 4 meatballs and a scoop of gravy and serve.
I always feel the need to put a disclaimer on my recipes that have longer ingredient lists, or a few components! Many of the ingredients in this recipe are fridge/freezer/pantry staples, and all three of the components – mashed potatoes, meatballs, and gravy – kind of overlap each other so everything should be done around the same time.
It will all be worth it in the end anyways because, hello, Shepherd’s Pie Meatballs & Mashed Potatoes! So good! ;)
Have a happy St. Patrick’s Day!