Tag Archives: Saint Patrick’s Day

Is it Cottage or Shepherd’s Pie?

Most people call this dish “Shepherd’s Pie”. Period.

Cottage Pie - Foodies Gone Real

There are food purists out there that will argue you on this, though… and here’s the real titles, as far as my research shows:

COTTAGE Pie= beef

SHEPHERD Pie = lamb

FYI… This is cottage pie.

This is common fare for us in the winter, and especially in the month of March around St. Patrick’s Day.  I know, I know… shouldn’t it have been corned beef and hash? Alas, this is probably where the other parts of my genetic make-up take over. Can’t stand corned beef.  So I this is a classic dish, British-Isles-Ish, that I feel good about eating on March 17th.

And yes, I’m late posting it. But I’m making it again in a week or so… so see. You don’t have to only eat it for St. Patrick’s Day.

I also love it for the following reasons:

  1. Cheap. It can be as cheap as you need it to be… however…
  2. You can definitely “take it up a notch.”

I would argue that “taking it up a notch” doesn’t really keep true to its roots in the British Isles, BUT, it does seem to better appease our American taste buds.


2 pounds Ground Beef
Potatoes – about 4-6 russet potatoes, preferably, peeled and chopped
2 tbl butter, 1/2 c milk (for making mashed potatoes)
2-3 tbl Butter (for saute veggies, as needed)
Sprinkle of ground sage
1 tsp thyme
1 Onion (small), chopped
4 Carrots, peeled and chopped
2 cups Peas
Splash of whiskey (for deglazing, but you could use additional broth instead)
1/4 c broth (or water)


One small can of tomato paste
Shredded cheddar cheese – about 1/2 cup


Preheat your oven to 400*.

Brown your beef and chop your veggies.  This is almost always my first step, because I like to use the fat leftover from your beef to saute the veggies… I’m big into waste not, want not.


While your beef is browning, bring a pot of water to boil for your potatoes.  Once it’s boiling, drop in your peeled chopped potatoes.  You are making mashed potatoes to top off the pie.

After the beef is browned, use a slotted spoon to remove.  If you can do it quickly, you don’t need to reduce to heat (keep the fat simmering).  Then, plop in your onions, carrots, sage, and thyme.  You may need to add more butter to prevent sticking.

After they’ve sauteed for about 5 minutes. Salt and pepper generously, but if you plan to use salted broth for deglazing and/or later in the recipe, just go easy if you don’t like things over salted.

Cottage Pie - Foodies Gone Real

Once the onions and carrots are tender, put the beef back in with the onion, carrots and herbs, and splash your whiskey (you can use broth if no whiskey).  Use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits at the bottom of your pan.  This makes the food divine.  I do not joke. Do not skip this step of deglazing!

I like to think using whiskey makes it more authentic. I mean, we ARE trying to tie ourselves to Irish, roots, aye?

Now add your peas. Fry up for a few minutes until they start to thaw.

Cottage Pie - Foodies Gone Real

Add your meat and broth (or water) Bring to a boil and you want to ensure your peas are cooked all the way through if you’re using frozen (which is pretty much what I always do).  If you used canned you probably don’t want to cook as long as they don’t turn to complete mush.

Cottage Pie - Foodies Gone Real

Once the liquid is reduced some, peas are cooked, dump your veggie beef mix in the largest pan you have.

Now, about this time, those potatoes are tender and falling apart in your pot.  Strain them, mash ’em up with butter and milk.


This is the only tricky part to the recipe: Dollup the potatoes around the beef and then spread it out, as if frosting a cake.

Cottage Pie - Foodies Gone Real

Cover your dish and cook for about 20 minutes.  Peek at it.  If you’re using a clear glass dish, you should see the liquid boiling inside.  This is a good sign.

Uncover the dish, and put it back in the oven.  Let it cook for another 5-10 minutes.  This is really for however crispy/browned you want your mashed potatoes.  (The good news of course is that all the ingredients are actually cooked before you put it in the oven.  It’s entirely safe to eat, if you like.  This is just more about “melding the flavors.”)


Right before putting your beef+veggie mix into the pan, mix in one can of tomato paste.  Probably not authentically Irish, but I llllooovvveeee the flavor it adds.

After you’ve spread the mashed potatoes on top as described above, sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese on top of the potatoes and then cover.  When you remove your cover/lid/foil during the bake process, you can watch the cheese to how melty/brown you like.

Cottage Pie - Foodies Gone Real

For THIS time, I added the cheese.  We can’t go wrong with cheese in this house.

This is what it looks like, pulled out of the oven after a total of 25 minutes (5 uncovered).

fter you've spread the mashed potatoes on top as described above, sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese on top of the potatoes and then cover.  When you remove your cover/lid/foil during the bake process, you can watch the cheese to how melty/brown you like.

This is what it looks like served, and about to be devoured, like the true Irish woman I am. I adore potatoes (check out this and this and this if you don’t believe me). I love them sooooo much.

Cottage Pie - Foodies Gone Real



Sarah’s Musings: 3/22/15

I didn’t post my musings last Sunday for the following reasons:

My family and I had been pretty sick the whole week before.  I wanted to just sleep in the extra time I had (that I would have ordinarily been working on this kind of post!).

Being sick, I wasn’t spending alot of time reading up on interesting topics, participating in facebook conversations, etc.

So I just left well-enough alone.

This last week was Saint Patrick’s Day (yay!), and if you’ll indulge me, I have quite alot to say on the topic… some food, some not, but still important valid.  (Is it socially acceptable to call your own words important?  This sounds too obnoxious.)

First of all, I am emphatic in teaching my children truth.  Call me whatever you like, but we discuss who Saint Nicholas really was, there is no tooth fairy, and specific for this holiday, we discuss why we honor Saint Patrick’s memory.  (I want to be the place of reason, and truthful answers, not stories that either a) manipulate them into good behavior and b) make them second guess if I’m telling them the whole story.  I’m sure I’m going to catch some flack for that.  And by all means, there is NO condemnation for the parents that choose to raise their children with these traditions!)

Another big part of this is my own culture and ancestors – we live in New York, where many of the ancestors of locals are Polish, Italian, or maybe even English/Welsh (if they arrived in upstate New York before 1900).  I love studying genealogy, and I am a child of two Texans – whose background is comprised of protestant (in the blood, man!), central-Texan German (from both sides), and a touch of Irish.  My maiden name is Irish, but protestant-Irish.  The difference is important to me, but not so much that I can’t appreciate Saint Patrick.  All of this leads me to be certain that I teach my girls the story on the real Saint Patrick – because it’s part of their heritage, too, and honoring to a man who loved Jesus.  (And due to the cultural differences and NOT being in Texas where their heritage is ALL OVER THE PLACE, they’re only going to learn this stuff unless I teach them!)

Saint Patrick was a believer, a changed man, who returned to the people who enslaved him to preach the saving message.  That message is that this world is a broken place, with broken people.  We can try in our strength to make it right, and to be right, but after we are long gone and called to give an account why God should allow us to a heaven, a place of perfection, we can’t say that we were perfect.  The wages of the imperfection, this marring of brokenness and sin on our souls, is death.  So in comes Jesus, who, being perfect and without fault, and fully God and fully man (that’s a mystery that even I have a hard time wrapping my mind around!), and dies on the cross and conquers death.  When we believe he paid the price for that imperfection, and choose to follow Him, we now have security – we have done nothing to deserve heaven and being made right with a Just God, but Jesus’ sacrifice covers that.

Patrick got that.  He lived in real slavery, with real sin, and real broken people.  He couldn’t leave these people alone, that knew no different, and had no justification before God.  So He returned, as a missionary, to Ireland.

So here is a day that honors this man: this man that loved even people that were not deserving of it, and by most people’s opinion, would have had every right to hold a bitter grudge against this people group for the remainder of his life.  (And the amazing thing is this – we should know of MORE stories like this!  Patrick is not the only missionary who ever loved a people group this much.  Look up Jim and Elisabeth Elliot, for example.)

So! We still do many traditions in our home – we wear green, I make green food, we eat a British Isles dinner.  But we also do this while discussing this great man who loved God and loved people.

Here is what was on our Irish menu:

Grain-free Irish Soda bread

Cashew Cream Mint Chocolate Pie  (I am still not over this pie.  IT WAS SO CREAMY AND EASY!) … pic here: https://www.instagram.com/p/0WA_5QskDT/?taken-by=foodies_gone_real

Cottage Pie (interesting fact: technically, you can only call it Shepherd’s Pie if it is made with ground lamb.  Since ours was made with grass-fed beef [for which I don’t have a written recipe! sorry!], we call it Cottage Pie.)

For more reading on Saint Patrick, check out this incredible article here.

I will leave you with my absolutely favorite quote, largely attributed to Saint Patrick:

“Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left
Christ where I lie, Christ where I sit, Christ where I arise
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.”


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