Monday, March 19, 2012

Recipes: St Paddy's Day Corned Beef & Mini Shepherd's Pie

Saint Patrick's Day falls on a Saturday once every 7 years or so and when that happens, the bars are always overly packed and the streets lined with cops. This year, we decided to celebrate at home instead. I much prefer cocktail parties to sit-down dinners (it's less work) so we decided to throw a party centered around green Irish food and drinks.

We kicked off the day of green festivities with green wine!!!

Not Irish fare but my sister makes a killer garlic soy sauce chicken wings. The wings are gigantic so you know she must have gotten it from an Asian market.

Shepherd's Pie is a classic Irish dish, something that I always have to order if I see it on a bar menu. I was excited to make it for the party but wanted to make it in an appetizer portion so that it would be easy for my guests to devour.

When I cook, I always try to make food as healthy as I can without sacrificing flavor. For the mini shepherd's pie, I used lean ground beef and substituted mashed potatoes with cauliflower mashed potatoes. The mash utilized a whole head of cauliflower and just one potato. It tasted just like mash potatoes but if you focused real hard on the flavor, you could taste a tinge of cauliflower. The consistency was also semi-creamy and consistent with regular mashed potatoes. None of the guests at my party even noticed that there was cauliflower in the mixture.

I adapted the recipe from the Food Network website. The recipe called for the meat to be layered over the mashed potatoes but I thought it would look more classic if the mashed potatoes were piped over the meat. These cute mini shepherd's pie were so delicious, a good party dish and easy to make.

Another Irish dish I prepared was corned beef and cabbage. If you have a slow cooker, this is about one of the easiest dishes to make but your guests will think you have been slaving in the kitchen. Thankfully, Vicente Foods in Brentwood was well stocked with corned beef that was packaged with the pickling spices.

Mini Shepherd's Pie Recipe
Makes 12 pies
Adapted from Food Network recipe

Cooking spray
1 can biscuits
(12) (recommended: Grands)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground Lean beef
1/2 onion, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup reduced sodium beef stock
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
Cauliflower mashed potatoes*
1 tablespoon granulated garlic powder
2 tablespoons granulated onion powder
2 cups shredded Cheddar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Spray a 12-count muffin pan with cooking spray. Mold biscuits to the shape of each muffin cup. Par-bake biscuits for 6 to 8 minutes until light golden. Remove from oven and set aside. The muffins kind of puffed up a bit so I used a spoon to compress them against the muffin mould. You want to ensure that they look like cups and are able to hold the meat mixture.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add ground beef and brown. Stir in the onions, salt, pepper and garlic and allow to cook together for a couple of minutes. Mix flour into the meat mixture and stir until a paste consistency is reached. Add beef stock to pan and stir in vegetables and herbs, the last few minutes, until combined.

Spoon the meat mixture into the baked biscuit. Then put cauliflower mashed potatoes in a piping bag and pipe on top of the meat. Top with cheddar cheese.

Return to oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes until cheese is melted and browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before popping individual pies out with a knife

*Cauliflower mashed potatoes
Recipe from Good Housekeeping

1 large (about 8 ounces) Yukon gold potato, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
1 head (about 2 1/4 pounds) cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets
2 cup water
2 teaspoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed with press
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh lemon peel
Salt and ground black pepper

Place potato and cauliflower in 4-quart saucepan. Add water; cover and heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to low; simmer, covered, about 20 minutes or until potato and cauliflower are fork-tender, stirring once halfway through cooking. Drain vegetables, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid.

In same saucepan, heat oil and garlic over medium-low heat about 1 minute or until garlic is just golden, stirring. Reduce heat to low; return vegetables to saucepan. With potato masher or slotted spoon, coarsely mash vegetables, adding some reserved cooking liquid if mixture seems dry. Stir in parsley, lemon peel, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

Corned Beef Recipe

4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 3 inch pieces
10 baby red potatoes, quartered
1 onion, peeled and cut into small chunks
4 cups water
1 (4 pound) corned beef brisket with pickling spice packet
Bottle of stout (I used Guinness)
1 head cabbage, cut into small wedges

Place the carrots, potatoes, and onion into the bottom of a slow cooker and place the brisket on top of the vegetables. Pour the water and beer over the brisket, ensuring that the meat is covered with liquids. Sprinkle on the spices from the packet, cover, and set the cooker on High.

Cook the brisket for about 8 hours. An hour before serving, add the cabbage and cook for 1 more hour.

Slice meat against the grain and serve.

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