Shepherd’s pie is good comfort food for any season. Just ask Toluca Lake’s own Irish pub, Timmy Nolan’s, which offers it on the menu year-round. But the dish is even more appropriate on St. Patrick’s Day. This year, Timmy Nolan’s celebrates the holiday of feasting — and, for many, drinking — with shepherd’s pie, a departure from its usual offerings of Irish stew and corned beef.
“Shepherd’s pie is farm based. It’s like peasant food and is found in rural areas and potato farms,” says Justino Diaz, Timmy Nolan’s general manager. The simple dish of meat and potatoes is “a staple meal and soul food in Celtic and Irish areas.”
It’s not really a pie in the true sense of the word, because it has no pastry crust. Instead, it’s topped with mashed potatoes. Shepherd’s pie gets its name from its filling of minced lamb (a pie that contains beef instead is traditionally called a cottage pie).
Timmy’s shepherd’s pie includes both meats, and Diaz expects to serve more than 500 of the pies in March alone. It’s been a popular item for 28 years, he says. “Some of the bartenders are 22, and I tell them, ‘Honey, this recipe has been around longer than you’ve been!’”
Diaz generously shared the recipe for this hearty and warming meal, which he points out is “quick, easy and freezes beautifully.”
TIMMY’S SHEPHERD’S PIE
For the filling:
½ pound ground lamb
½ pound ground sirloin
Salt and pepper to taste
4 to 5 small carrots, diced
½ small white onion, diced
½ cup red wine
2 cups beef broth
½ tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
¾ cup frozen peas
For the mashed potato topping:
5 to 6 Russet potatoes
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup butter
White pepper to taste
- Sauté ground lamb and sirloin in a sauté pan over medium heat.
- Lightly season with salt and pepper. Remove meat from pan when the meat turns brown.
- Using the same pan, brown carrots and onion. Deglaze the pan with the red wine (use only a wine you would drink).
- Add the lamb, beef, beef broth, tomato paste and chopped herbs.
- Cook for 20 minutes so that juices are slightly absorbed.
- Once items are cooked to the desired flavor, place into a cast iron pot or casserole dish.
- Peel and cut potatoes. Place potatoes into a pot of water and bring water to a boil, about 15 minutes.
- When potatoes are soft, remove them from the water and put them into a colander to drain.
- Add heavy cream and butter. Mash or whip them (whichever consistency you’d like for your crust) into the potatoes.
- Season with salt and white pepper to taste.
- Spoon peas and then potatoes evenly onto the top of the meat mixture. Broil for 5 to 10 minutes until top is golden brown, or bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 to 15 minutes. (If baking, leave in a bit more of the juices so that the meat does not get dry.)
NEITHER A PINT NOR WHISKEY
St. Patrick’s is a “heavy alcohol” day, Diaz says, with most patrons going for anything Guinness or Jameson. Whiskey is often served in Irish coffee, a beverage reportedly created at a small airport in Ireland to welcome cold, weary passengers on a stormy night in the early 1940s. If you’re hankering for a celebratory toast without beer or whiskey, you may opt for Irish coffee that has “a good buzz of” Baileys Irish Cream. Here’s Timmy’s version.
Serves 1 (with extra whipped cream left over for a few more rounds!)
- In a bowl, mix 1 quart heavy whipping cream with 1 ounce Frangelico liqueur and beat to desired peaks. Slowly add confectioner’s sugar (about ½ cup) until desired sweetness is reached.
- Combine 1½ ounces Baileys Irish Cream with 7 ounces coffee (iced or hot) in a large mug and top with 2 ounces of the Frangelico whipped cream. Enjoy!