Traditional Irish Shepherd’s Pie with Lamb

18 Mar

So about this Anglo-Irish party.

I have long, long, loooong wanted to stage a dramatic reading of a play at someone’s home. You know, just get copies of a play for everyone, assign roles and read it. In my mind’s eye, it would be a wine-sodden affair (to ease stage fright and add to the hilarity), and there would be good food between the acts to keep the energy going (and keep the wine from creating utter chaos). I mean, I like a regular old dinner party as much as anyone, but since I can’t seem to leave well enough alone, I thought this would be a worthy way to imbibe in the name of Art.

A view of the early buffet items

A view of the early buffet items

This would, however, require a lot more space than I have in my little apartment. So I mentioned it to likely friends over the years, and everyone thought it would be a great thing indeed. A few even laid claim to having thought up the idea themselves (which I have most vociferously not allowed to happen…you know who you are and you are never-ever-ever going to get away with it).

Before the mashed potato topping

Before the mashed potato topping

But no one offered to have it at theirs.

Finally, I did what all of us high achievers must do when we have a great idea. I did it myself.

I set a date, commandeered my parents’ kitchen and living room in their absence (which in my teenage years would have been called having a party when your parents are away and sort of hoping it doesn’t go all Risky Business on you), invited a few friends, made an executive decision on the play (The Importance of Being Earnest: A Trivial Play for Serious People by Oscar Wilde). I ordered multiple copies from the local library. Then I started menu planning.

This is where we wonder whether we've poured ourselves enough wine to last through Act One. We ended up bringing the bottles along...just in case

This is where we wonder whether we’ve poured ourselves enough wine to last through Act One. We ended up bringing the bottles along…just in case

And so, last Saturday we ten adults, ate, drank and read the play. And laughed ’till we cried (at least I did). Wilde was an absolute genius with words and humor and the writing and story are as fresh today as when he wrote them around 1895.

So very, very good!

So very, very good!

There were revelatory performances, colossally funny bloopers, and transcendent moments of connection with characters. And a lot of booze and food. The intermissions went on so long that some of our ensemble were forced to depart before Act 3 could get started…but The Show Must Go On, so the remaining actors mustered up our fortitude and powered through to the end, reading two and three roles at a time — which by that late hour became rather confusing and schizophrenic, but no less delightful. I would like to think that Oscar would have approved, if not the performances, the spirit of the thing, but I cannot presume so much.

I got my wish (Clearly, God helps those who help themselves) of a dramatic reading and I got lots of help in the kitchen and as a bonus, it was an opportunity to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a loosely themed menu. Once I have posted the different dishes, I will do a post to collect them all in one place for next year. You got the beef stew recipe yesterday. Today it’s the shepherd’s pie with lamb. Slainte!

Delicioous just out of the oven...perhaps even more delicious a day or two after (according to those who came by to pick up  leftovers!)

Delicioous just out of the oven…perhaps even more delicious a day or two after (according to those who came by to pick up leftovers!)

Traditional Shepherd’s Pie, with lamb

2 Tbs olive oil

3 Cups carrots, chopped into 1/4” chunks

2 lbs ground lamb

2 Cups onion, chopped fine

10-12 oz frozen peas

Fresh cracked black pepper

2 generous Tbs fresh thyme, chopped

4 Tbs flour                                     

2 Tbs butter

2 glasses red wine

4 Tbs tomato paste

4 Tbs Worcestershire sauce

1 Cup beef stock

1 large quantity mashed potatoes (Yukon gold and salted butter)

1 egg beaten

Preehat oven to 400°F.  Heat the oil to medium high and begin to sauté the carrots. When they begin to get tender, add the onions . Stir and cook until the onions are well-softened and getting golden.

Add the meat and brown, adding the black pepper and thyme about halfway through. When thoroughly browned, drain the fat with a big spoon.

Add the butter and the peas. Combine thoroughly, then sprinkle the flour and stir again. Add tomato paste, wine and Worcestershire sauce and reduce slightly.

Add beef stock and reduce until you have a nice thick gravy.

Grease a 9 x 13 oven proof dish with butter (or not; I didn’t grease it at all, but I also didn’t remove all the fat, cause that’s the kind of girl I am). Add the meat. Spoon potatoes over and brush with egg. Bake for 20 minutes until getting golden on top (you can give it a couple of minutes under the broiler if you’d like). Let stand for at least five minutes before serving with crusty bread.


2 Responses to “Traditional Irish Shepherd’s Pie with Lamb”

  1. Karen March 19, 2014 at 8:39 am #

    It sounds like a really fun evening. You have taken a dinner and a play to a new level.

  2. Mad Dog March 18, 2014 at 10:23 pm #

    That looks like great fun – I hosted a murder dinner once and everyone had a wonderful time 🙂

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