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The Irish Boutique is an Irish import store that has been located in the Chicago land area for over 40 years.  The shop stocks a variety of products ranging from Irish jewelry, crystal, china, food, sweaters, caps, t-shirts and a wide variety of Irish gifts. 

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Visit our blog to read about Michelle Barry's adventures in cooking and eating Irish cuisine and to learn about new products and upcoming events. 

 

What to do with leftovers: Shepherd's Pie

john barry

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We’ve been hosting the Holiday’s ever since we moved into our house in 2012. This is mostly because we’ve got the little ones and it’s easier for us not to have to load everyone (and all of the stuff - diapers, wipes, changes of clothes, sippy cups etc.) into the car and try to figure out naps at someone else’s house.  I love having everyone over and the rest of the family does too.  I’m sure I make a better host than a guest, because I’m incapable of sitting down for very long and enjoy being busy in the kitchen, content just listening to the happy squeals of the children playing with our family and friends.

Although I try to send people home with leftovers, hosting means that we end up with most of them.  While I could fix myself the exact same plate over and over again and be in heaven, Paul gets tired of leftovers after about one meal. This presents a problem, since I am the self-proclaimed the food waste police.

Fortunately, probably in anticipation of me forcing the entire family to eat nothing but leftovers for a week, Paul solved this little problem by picking up a packet of Shepherd’s pie mix when we were at Paddy’s the day before Christmas. I had actually never made a Shepherd’s pie before, but sure enough, after a lunch of leftovers, Paul mentioned that we might want to use the rest of the leftover mashed potatoes to make one that night. At first I resisted, feeling like it was too early not to eat another few plates of Christmas dinner.  But, after realizing what short work the kids had already made of the leftover Irish bacon, I acquiesced.  Marriage is, after all, about compromise (and Paul was at least willing to eat the leftover potatoes again).

I thought there was a pound of ground beef in the freezer but we only had half a pound. This actually worked out perfectly because we were working with a limited amount of leftover mashed potatoes anyway. I added a bit of volume to the filling but throwing in some celery, garlic, carrots and peas to supplement the meager about of beef we had.

I’ve never made Shepherd’s pie before.  Granted, this one was made with leftovers and a mix, but boy was it simple. Here’s how we did it: 

  • First we preheated the oven to 400F.
  • Then we sauteed garlic, an onion, carrots and celery in a pan until they were soft but not browned.  
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  • Then we added the ground beef, breaking it up into small bits until the meat was cooked through.
  • To this we added some frozen peas, tossing them with the meat and other vegetables until they just warmed through.
  • Because we were using a small amount of meat, we added approximately half of the Shepherd’s pie packet to about ⅔ cup of water and stirred.
  • We then added the water and seasoning mix to our meat mixture and brought the whole thing to a simmer before turning the heat off.  
  • We poured the mixture to an oven proof dish and covered it with a layer of our leftover mashed potatoes.
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  • I decorated the top with the tines of a fork, per Paul’s instructions, dotted the top with some butter and put into the oven for 30 minutes.
  • By then it was all bubbly and starting to make the house smell delicious.
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The only thing I would do over again is broil the top for a few minutes to brown it a bit more.

I’m already thinking about how to make an another version of this with leftover turkey, green beans, carrots and bechamel.

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 Who knew compromise, and leftovers, could taste so good?