13 March 2011

Erin go bragh!!!!!! We're Serving up Shepherd's Pie with Ulster Champ Topping for Canadian Beef

Shepherd's Pie with Ulster Champ Topping

March 17th is when the rest of the world takes notice and we all become Irish for a day. We start wearing as many colours of green as the Irish hills and dales, drinking green beer and Guinness at our favourite local pubs and singing renditions of Danny Boy in our best pitched voices. L'il Burnt Toast is named after the Emerald Isle so it holds special meaning for us, even if we are not Irish, and we have always celebrated with food. Farm fresh spring lamb flavoured with fresh rosemary, smoked Irish salmon served with Connemara Peated Single Malt Whiskey, and black pudding will exercise your taste buds as you imagine taking in the sights and sounds of the Emerald Isle along one of Ireland’s many tasty food trails.

This year I am making a version of Shepherds Pie topped with Ulster Champ which is a potato dish named after the Ulster Provence in Northern Ireland. De reir a cheile a thogtar na caisleain [deh rare ah kay-lee a hug-tar nah cosh-lawn] is something the Irish may be well qualified to advise on in today’s hectic world. It means “It takes time to build castles.” Just as it takes time to build a life and castles it takes time to make Shepherd's Pie. You will be happy you reinvented the wheel and tried this version of an old classic.  I love simple clean dishes and figured this would be a good one to try leading up to or after drinking my green beer.

St. Patrick’s Day is a fun celebration of Irish heritage. Why not celebrate by giving the little leprechauns in your life a special pot of gold at the end of the rainbow with a tasty dish or two?

"May the Irish hills caress you.
May her lakes and rivers bless you.
May the luck of the Irish enfold you.
May the blessings of Saint Patrick behold you."

Canadian Beef has partnered with Eat, Write, Retreat, the fabulous food blogging conference in Washington DC. The event is an intensive, hands-on weekend designed to help food bloggers take their work to the next level. Workshops in the culinary arts, creative writing, food styling and photography are interspersed with dynamic dining events, demonstrations and valuable networking sessions.

Back in the day when I lived in Alberta I worked for an insurance company where we shipped cattle mostly to the Eastern provinces.  In the 5 years that I worked there I grew to know and love many of the Alberta ranchers and their families. On the Canadian Beef website it says, "By choosing Canadian Beef, you are supporting your rural neighbours and Canada‘s economy. There are 86,000 farms and ranches with beef cattle in Canada, 61% of which are small family farms (that‘s 52,460 Canadian families) with less than 47 cows each. With 86,000 beef producers in Canada, and beef produced in every province, eating local beef is as easy as making sure it‘s Canadian. Each of Canada‘s beef producers serve as stewards of the land, dedicating their lives to ensuring both the land and cattle are raised and maintained in the healthiest way possible."

Canadian beef is nutritious and produced according to world class quality and safety standards.  It has 14 essential nutrients needed for healthy living. Bite for bite Canadian beef is a nutrient rich choice for you and your family. For those of you who know me you know I am always up for supporting local producers and Canadian products. Visit the Canadian Beef website for many delicious recipes and ideas as well as nutritional information and support your local producers!!

May you always have
Walls for the winds,
A roof for the rain,
Tea beside the fire,
Laughter to cheer you,
Those you love near you,
And all your heart might desire!

This pie is also part of the annual Paddy's Day Parade over at the The Daily Spud. Check out the roundup on the 17th!!! You know I had to gollow a blog called the Daily Spud!!!!

Addendum: In Canada if the filling is made with beef, chicken, lamb or old socks it is still called Shepherd's Pie:D

**Shepherds's Pie with Ulster Champ Topping**

1 tablespoon olive oil
1½ pounds ground beef
½ cup onion, diced
½ cup carrots, diced
1 to 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
¼ cup Guinness draught stout or ¼ cup cabernet wine
7 ounces (¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons) beef broth
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp Tabasco
pinch smoked paprika
1 fresh bay leaf
1/4 tsp dried thyme
small handful fresh flatleaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 cup peas, preferably fresh, or frozen (thawed)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Ulster Champ Topping

1¼ pounds russet potatoes, 4 medium
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup finely grated white Cheddar cheese
¼ cup milk
¼ cup fresh parsley, finely minced
2 Spring onions, chopped
handful frozen peas, cooked
Salt and white pepper to taste

Brown beef in a Dutch oven or other large heavy saucepot over low to moderate heat in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Allow to simmer until cooked throughout, about 5 to 10 minutes. Drain excess fat when cooked and add onion, carrots, garlic, stout or wine, broth, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, smoked paprika, bay leaf and thyme. Stir and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook 15 minutes or until carrots are fork tender. Add 1 cup peas. Remove bay leaf.

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 9½-inch round casserole dish or deep pie dish.

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

Scrub and peel potatoes. Cut into large pieces. For the champ topping, heat a pan of salted water, add the potatoes and bring gently to the boil, then simmer until the potatoes are nearly cooked through, about 15-20 minutes..Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a low heat, then gently fry the spring onions until softened. Add the milk and heat through. 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. Mix in cooked peas. 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.

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison. Best Blogger Tips


  1. I love that! It looks so good and comforting.

    In fact, that pie should be called "Cottage Pie" as it is made with beef. It is named "Shepherd's Pie" when it contains lamb meat... ;-P



  2. I have not one drop of Irish blood in me, but I have kissed the Blarney stone! I love Shepherd's Pie. Your version looks delightfully savory. As I type, my corned beef and cabbage is beginning to simmer. This is comfort food at it's best.

  3. In Canada Shepherds Pie is exactly this. It can be made with beef, lamb, chicken or old socks and it would still be Shepherd's Pie:D

  4. We live in Ireland for a year before moving to ther 'continent' I was so surprised when there was no celebration of St. Paddy's - just another day..... I since learned it's an American thing (Canadiens being 'American' as well, or so I'm told....)

  5. Growing up in Canada we always called any minced meat recipe with mashed topping shepards pie.. Of course it makes sense that a real shepard wouldn't be eating anything else but some sort of sheep.

    Whatever you call it. shepards pie or cottage pie it is good eats and this looks like a great recipe.


  6. Val, love those earthenware vessels! Have a great St. Paddy's week!

  7. What I love about Irish food is that it's all quintessential comfort food. This shepherds pie included. Looks fabulous! And I love that you used such good quality beef with it!

  8. I've always loved all things Irish, even marrying an Irishman. I feel like St. Patrick's Day is my chance to let my inner flag fly.

  9. What a perfect dish for St. Patrick's Day, whether you're Irish or not. (and I'm not) I love your traditional potato dish on top! :)

  10. Love the topping on your pie. Shepherds or cottage pie is one of my favourite comfort foods and always reminds me of my Mum's cooking. So delicious!

  11. I love Shepherd's pie . Your version looks mouthwatering.As well your pics, you are doing it very well, Val :)

  12. The swirls of browned mashed potatoes have me entranced. Perfect pies!

  13. I love this version of Shepherd's Pie topped with Champ - one of my favorite ways to prepare mashed potatoes.

    I'm not Irish either but that doesn't matter on St. Patrick's Day!

  14. Hello Val,

    Having made a corned beef and cabbage dinner last week, I have been looking for just the right dish for our St Patrick's Day dinner ... thank you for this shepherd's pie and champ recipe.

    Just found your blog and will be bookmarking it! I'll be back!

  15. I showed this to my husband and now he wants it. I like the single servings...so elegant.

  16. It doesn't get any better than Shepherd's pie. Happy St. Patty's day Val.

  17. Your Shepherds's Pie looks wonderful, love that delicious cheesy potato topping!

  18. Heh -- I did something similar, but with colcannon. Your cottage pie looks delicious and so warm and comforting. Perfect for St. Patrick's Day.


  19. I love a good Shepherd's pie. What an interesting twist on yours. I like the name of your daughter :)

  20. I love shepherd's pie. That potato topping sounds delicious.

  21. My husband loves sheperd's pie...I like your Irish version!

  22. Yes, there's always the cottage pie / shepherds' pie debate. We tend to put them all under the same umbrella to and call them all shepherds' pie.

    Great to see someone do a post on such a great classic. It's one of my favourites. And we've got some of those earthenware bowls so I might just have to make shepherds pie now. It looks great in those bowls. :)

  23. Tis lovely! I love champ and had never thought to use to top a shepherd's pie. This is a wonderfully unique entree. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  24. Oh wow, this looks great! I love the champ topping!

  25. I hope you win! This is a timely and gorgeous yummy looking recipe with a lot of flavour. I was so excited to see this contest and then so disappointed that they didn't spring for the flight! Just the tickets to the conference? That is nice... but no flight, no hotel - hmmm. Yet, we in Canada do love our Canadian beef. Alberta Beef is DEFINITELY the best in the world!


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