Monday, March 15, 2010

The Potato - Shepherd's Pie and Colcannon

The Potato...How do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

I adore the potato. It can be prepared in so many ways...but, for this German girl to participate in Cuisine Kathleen's second annual St. Patrick's Day Blog Crawl, there had to be some research. I hit the books, cookbooks, that is. I hit my folder of clipped, printed, and saved recipes. I found a number of Irish potato dishes that I had always wanted to make but I never seemed to get to it. In fact, I found too many recipes...

I decided to first put together an Irish Shepherd's Pie. It is made with round steak cut into cubes instead of ground beef or lamb. This was outstanding! The family had no difficulty eating this "warm up your tummy" dish! I morphed about three recipes together to come up with this recipe...and I am glad that I did!

Irish Shepherd's Pie

Serves 6

Potato Topping
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup sour cream
1 large egg
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 pinch sea salt
1 pinch fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup Irish Cheese, or cheddar, grated

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/4 pound lean round steak, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
1 cup pearl onions
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp oregano
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 cup beef stock, divided
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp red wine
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 cup Irish Cheese, or cheddar, grated
2 Tbsp parsley or green tops of scallions for garnish

Boil potatoes in water until fork tender. Drain potatoes well. Add butter to the potatoes. Mix together the sour cream, egg, and heavy cream. Combine the mixture with the potatoes and mash until smooth. Stir in the 1/2 cup cheese. If the potatoes are too thick, stir in some more cream. Set aside for later.

While the potatoes are boiling, preheat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add olive oil then the cubes of round steak. Season the meat with salt and pepper. Brown the meat for 5-7 minutes. Pour off any excess oil, leaving a little. Add the chopped carrots, celery, crushed garlic, onion and oregano to the meat. Cook together for another 5-7 minutes, stirring often. Add 1/2 cup beef stock to the meat mixture and cover with a lid. Simmer until carrots are tender.

In another skillet over medium heat, make a roux by melting the butter and adding the flour. Stir together for 2-3 minutes. Whisk in the remaining 1 cup of beef stock and Worcestershire Sauce until there are no lumps and it is smooth. Continue whisking while adding 1 Tbsp tomato paste and 2 Tbsp wine. Thicken to a gravy about 2 minutes. Add sea salt and ground pepper. Taste. Adjust the sauce to taste. More wine, salt and pepper may be desired. Pour gravy onto the meat and vegetable mixture. Stir in the peas. Set aside.

Preheat the broiler to high. Spoon the meat, vegetable and gravy mixture into a small casserole dish. Spoon the mashed potatoes over the meat. Top the potatoes with Irish cheese. Broil until cheese is melted and bubbly. Garnish with parsley or chopped scallions (green tops only) and serve.


This goes on my list of comfort food favorites.  I don't think it has to be cold outside for me to enjoy this dish! 

The next dish that I had heard about many times but had never tasted nor prepared, is Colcannon.  My daughter kept telling me that I needed to make it and, she was right!  This makes potatoes special!  It was her recipe that I morphed just a bit!  (My SIL says that I shouldn't mess with my daughter's recipe because it is the time....)  I saw many different approaches to this dish...and came up with a recipe that included bacon prepared crisp and crumbled!

I must also mention that my sister-in-law gave me the lovely bowl!  She brought it home from an Ireland vacation, for me!  I have a wonderful sister-in-law...she is so thoughtful.

Serves 8-10

3 pounds red potatoes, quartered
1/2 pound bacon, cut into small pieces, fried
1/2 large head savoy cabbage, cored, shredded
4 green onions, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
1/2 to 3/4 cup half and half, as needed
salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Place potatoes in a large pot with enough water to cover.  Bring to a boil and cook covered, about 10-15 minutes, until potatoes are soft enough to mash.  Drain.  Mash the potatoes, a rough mash, with a masher, add 1/2 stick butter and 1/2 cup half and half.  Mix.  Add the sour cream and additional half and half until blended.

While potatoes are cooking, fry the bacon and set aside.  Pour off grease and melt 1/2 stick butter in pan.  Add garlic and green onion and cook, stirring until softened.  Add the cabbage, cover the pan, and let the cabbage steam for about 10 minutes, stir occasionally.  

Once the cabbage is steamed, add the mixture to the potatoes and season liberally with salt and pepper.


It was fun to spend March exploring Irish Cuisine.  I even tried corned beef and cabbage which will be posted after St. Patrick's Day!  Take time to visit Kathleen Cuisine and see what other festivities are happening!


  1. wor, this look so so yummy, especially the Shepherd's Pie, i must find one day to try this out. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Kate it looks wonderful! I would love some of each!
    And that bowl! Is it Belleek? Just beautiful!
    Thanks so much for joining the party, I am so glad you shared these wonderful recipes!

  3. Great looking dishes...I love colcannon and will definitely be trying your recipe.

  4. Looks delicious...all of it!

  5. I love Colcannon! I use leeks in mine.
    And Shepherds Pie is one of my favorite family meals!

  6. Your shepherd's pie looks amazing!

  7. Great Shepherd's pie...but the colcannon is what I'm talkin' about! Great recipe. Mine, mine, mine! thanks.

  8. MMMMMMmmmmm! My mouth is watering! Those dishes looks so yummy! I don't know very many Irish recipes - thanks for sharing!


  9. Your dishes look great - the Colcannon I've never made, sounds delicious!

  10. Hey, I'm glad you liked the colcannon recipe! Yay!



  11. Your Colcannon looks superb..and the pie? So comforting~

  12. Yummy on my tummy!
    I love Colcannon so I think I'll try this recipe first. Super job!

  13. I'm definately trying these recipe this weekend.

  14. Kate...Top o the mornin to ya!...
    Thanks for the low-down on Colcannon...I have never tried it...but have heard rave reviews from friends...
    Looks delish!
    xoxo~Kathy @
    Sweet Up-North Mornings...

  15. How I love shepherds pie... lovely job and photos. Great for St P's day!

  16. I'm glad to see you added the bacon to your recipe as I think that's the best part! LOL
    You did a beautiful job of photographing the process & the Shepard Pie looks outstandingly delicious. I've not been happy with my usual recipe, so I'll be anxious to try your version.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Happy St. Pat's Day!

  17. What a yummy post. We love Colcannon and your shepards Pie looks devine!


  18. Great post! I would love to try Colcannon. A couple of years ago I made Champ and loved it too. The Shepherd's pie sounds like wonderful comfort food too!

  19. Both of these dishes look great. The shepherds pie looks so rich and delicious!

  20. Oh,thank you,thank you. Both of these dishes sound wonderful. Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

  21. Happy St Patrick's Day from N Ireland.

    I have never had or made corned beef - but I think we are missing out here in Ireland and need to give it a try!

  22. I love Shepard's Pie, however, my hubby does not. So I don't get to make it and eat it very often. Thanks for visiting my blog & leaving me a comment.

  23. Shepherd's pie has never appealed to me, but the colcannon definitely sounds like something we would like. Your bowl is beautiful. Isn't it nice that your SIL thinks your daughter is a great cook--must be in the genes :)

  24. Kate, This was a great post. Love both of these dishes. And your Irish bowl is to be envied. Glad you researched and adapted such great recipes. So nice that your daughter is a great cook too.

  25. I'd be happy with both of those dishes. I haven't made a Shepherds Pie in a few months. Now I have a craving.

  26. Being Irish, we both love our praties. Your shepherd's pie looks perfect. And the colcannon is another great one! We love both of them. I'm bookmarking this post!

  27. Your Shepherd's pie looks totally delicious! And so does your Colcannon in that pretty bowl!

  28. my goodness, that's the most potato-happy shepherd's pie i've ever seen, which results in this potato lover being quite enticed! :)

  29. It all looks fabulous! Have to make the Shepherd's pie, my husband loves it! Thanks!

  30. Never heard of Colcannon until just recently but I have to say your recipe looks so good and "tummy warming" for sure!

  31. Hi Just checked out your blog -
    i blog about food too and also just did a Sheppard's pie

    check me out

    your dishes look yummy i am going to try to make
    happy cooking

  32. Your shepherd's pie looks fantastic, Kate. Looking forward to trying it.

  33. Your shepherd's pie looks amazing! So rich and delicious!

  34. Good Evening Kathy, I love Colcannon, as does my husband, but even as a potato lover, it is not a dish I make very often. I will have to rectify this and make Colcannon whilst the weather is still cold.
    Oooh, sour cream, butter, cream and an egg will make the most lovely mash potato for the topping of your Shepherd's Pie and I love the addition of Worcester Sauce to your meat section of the dish. I have to confess..... I was born in Worcester, so my loyalties lie there and I often add Worcester Sauce to pep up my winter dishes.
    Best Wishes