Happy St. Patrick’s Day! While St. Patty’s Day observed was on Saturday, today is the actual feast day/holiday, so I made you a delicious Irish-inspired dinner!
If I’m going to be completely honest, which I always try to be on this blog, Irish and English food are my favorite cuisines. Add in German and you round out my top three favorite foods. I know lots of people complain that British food is bland, but Ryan and I love it. Fish and chips, brown bread, pot pie, roasted meat and potatoes, oatmeal, and shepherd’s pie are my favorite comfort foods. And the beer. Ireland and England make fantastic beers.
Ireland was one of my favorite countries that I visited when I studied abroad. I made it to about 14 countries total (um, the Vatican counts as it’s own country, right?) and simple little Ireland stood out amongst all of them to me. The free museums, the beautiful art, the parks that were like miniature forests, and the Guinness were all just perfect. Seriously, out of everywhere I went, I want to go back to the Ireland (and Scotland while I’m there) so bad.
St. Patrick’s Day is a special holiday in the Norris household for three reasons. Number one, our above-discussed love of Irish food. Number two, beer. Number three, St. Patrick is the patron saint of engineers, and Ryan is an engineer. I like to pretend I’m an engineer by fixing my Dyson vacuum when it malfunctions and knowing how my Garmin works.
While I have long outgrown green beer, St. Patrick’s Day is still one of my favorite holidays because it means Irish food: corned beef, stouts, potatoes, cabbage. This year, we bought a huge chunk of corned beef to enjoy, since I never get enough of it with just one meal. That much corned beef mandates creativity, so I combined the Irish classic with one of my favorite British meals: shepherd’s pie.
Or, in honor of Pi Day (3.14) being so close to St. Patrick’s Day, how about an Irish Shepherd’s Pi?
Fun fact: corned beef is brined using several spices, including whole juniper berries. So when you purchase a large chunk of corned beef with some of the brine still on, it smells like gin. If gin is one of two acceptable liquors to you (gin and scotch!), then the corned will smell heavenly. Maybe this is why I like corned beef so much?
I named this dish St. Patty’s Pie in honor of the holiday, and it is essentially shepherd’s pie made with corned beef and flavored with a bit of dark stout beer. Peas, onions, carrots, and juniper-berry-scented corned beef are cooked in Guinness (or a similar stout, porter, or other dark beer), seasoned with salt, pepper, and thyme, and topped with mashed potatoes and a bit of cheese before being cooked to perfection in the oven.
To lighten it up a bit, I used only a bit of half-and-half to mash the potatoes. I also mashed some cauliflower with the potatoes to sneak some extra veggies into the dish. I figure if I’m going to be drinking a couple rich dark beers, it’ll balance out if I stuff as many vegetables as possible into my body, right?
Also, I now realize that the fact two or three beers qualifies as a lot of beer for me means that I am well out of college and 100% an adult. Well, as 100% an adult as someone who wears leggings all day and thinks brightly-colored running shoes make her faster can be.
- 1/3 head cauliflower, chopped
- 5-6 small yellow potatoes
- 1/2 tablespoon butter or olive oil
- 4 carrots, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 cup of frozen peas, thawed,
- 8 oz. corned beef
- Salt and pepper, as desired
- 1 tablespoon ground thyme
- 2 teaspoons juniper berries
- 1/2 cup stout or porter beer
- 2 tablespoons of flour
- 1-2 tablespoons half-and-half
- 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan or other sharp cheese
- Add the potatoes and cauliflower to a pot and add enough water to cover. Bring the water to boiling, and then let simmer until the potatoes and cauliflower are tender.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Meanwhile, heat the butter or oil in a large oven-safe pan. Saute the carrots and onions for about 5 minutes, and then add the beef and saute until cooked. Add peas and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.
- Season the vegetables and meat with salt, pepper, thyme, and juniper. Add the beer and raise the temperature to medium-high. Add the flour and stir for 2-3 minutes or until the flour cooks and the beer thickens into a sauce. Remove from heat.
- Mash the potatoes with half-and-half and salt and pepper if desired.
- Spread the vegetables and meat evenly across the pan and top with the mashed potatoes. Sprinkle with the cheese and then bake for 15 minutes.
- Let rest 5-10 minutes before serving.
- If you buy your corned beef in large portions from the butcher, it should come with whole juniper berries. If not, you can find dried juniper berries in the spice aisle or simply omit them from the recipe.
The best part about the St. Patty’s Pie is that it only takes 45 minutes or less to make! It’s seriously simple for a meal that’s seriously mouth-watering. Now pour yourself and Guinness and enjoy!