Kells Shepherd's Pie

Source: Kells Irish Restaurant and Pub, Portland, Oregon

1 1/2 pounds ground free-range beef
1/2 cup sweet onion, diced
1/2 cup baby carrots, diced
1 to 2 teaspoons garlic, minced or pressed
1/4 cup Guinness draught stout
1/4 cup cabernet wine
7 ounces (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) beef broth
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried sage
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 cup peas, preferably fresh, or frozen (thawed)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Ulster Champ Topping

Brown beef in a Dutch oven or other large heavy
saucepot over low to moderate heatablespoon Allow to simmer until cooked throughout, about 5 to 10 minutes. Drain excess fat when cooked and add onion, carrots, garlic, stout, wine, broth, Worcestershire sauce, basil, oregano, sage and marjoram. Stir and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook 15 minutes or until carrots are fork tender. Add peas.

While meat is simmering, bring large pot of water to boil for potatoes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt butter and stir in flour to make a roux (paste of equal parts butter and flour used to thicken liquids). Slowly incorporate roux into simmering beef mixture until desired thickness is achieved. (If mixture was simmered too long or cooked too high, less roux is needed.) Continue to cook for 5 to 10 minutes to allow roux and flavors to meld. Season with salt and pepper. Remove to a 9 1/2-inch round casserole dish or deep
pie dish.

While meat is simmering, preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare Ulster Champ Topping.

Ulster Champ Topping:
1 1/4 pounds russet potatoes, about 4 medium
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup finely grated Irish white Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely minced
1/3 cup scallions or chives, chopped
Salt and white pepper to taste

Scrub and peel potatoes. Cut into large pieces.

In a large pot, simmer potatoes in water until fork tender. Drain well and return pot to low heat to remove excess moisture. Stir in butter and cheese and whip, gradually adding milk, parsley and scallions or chives. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon potato topping evenly over
meat mixture, making irregular peaks with the back of a spoon. Alternatively, use a pastry bag and star tip to pipe potatoes over meat mixture.

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until potatoes are golden brown and crusty on edges and mixture is heated throughout. If desired, place casserole under broiler for 1 to 2 minutes to crisp potato topping. Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly to set, and serve immediately from casserole dish. Serve with HP sauce (Irish-English steak-style sauce), steak sauce or pan gravy, if desired.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Note: Pie can be cooked and served in individual baking dishes. Adjust final baking time as needed.