For almost a decade I was the general manager of a bar here in NYC.
It was a pub: casual, relaxed and the kind of place that welcomed you as much on a Saturday night as it did on a Tuesday afternoon.
I had a bartending staff of all females; I hired only the coolest, weirdest, most perfect girls that I inevitably befriended because they were just that awesome.
But it wasn’t all slinging drinks and smiles; there were nights full of stupid fights amongst the customers, kegs exploding, pipes exploding and, of course, there were always small fires to extinguish among the staff.
When the dust would settle, sometimes you just had to walk away for a minute.
Luckily there was a classic, old-school Irish pub right next door that provided refuge to all those who need a minute, or 50.
It welcomed you with sawdust floors, pints of Guinness and the smell of authentic shepherd’s pie.
I was first introduced to shepherd’s pie there and though it was a perfect ode to the classic, I have always secretly thought it could be better.
Imagine a shepherd’s pie infused with as many veggies as meat, like beets and carrots and mushrooms. Now take that decadents mixture and stuff it in the crispy skin of a baked potato and top it with mashed potatoes.
Its shepherd’s pie on steroids and it’s ready to take the stress out of any day.
Shepherd’s Pie Twice Baked Potatoes
Makes 6 potato halves, serves 6
Twice Baked Potatoes:
3 - medium Idaho potatoes (about 1/2 pound each – 1.5 pounds total)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons heavy cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling
1 egg yolk
Shepherd’s Pie Stuffing
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground lamb
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 small white onion (1/2 cup), coarsely chopped
2 small carrots, peeled, coarsely chopped
2 small beets, peeled, coarsely chopped
½ pound baby portabella mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 cup beef broth
½ cup frozen peas
Twice Baked Potatoes:
- Preheat oven to 425. Using a fork, lightly prick the potatoes then rub generously with the olive oil and sprinkle evenly with ½ teaspoon of the salt. Place on a baking sheet and bake until the potatoes are cooked through – about 1 hour. (Prepare the Lamb filling while the potatoes are baking).
- When the potatoes are finished, remove from the oven and cut each potato in half lengthwise. Scoop out the insides into a mixing bowl, being careful not to break the shell and leaving a small rim of the potato intact for support. Place the hollowed out potato shells on a baking sheet.
- Add the cream, butter, parmesan cheese, egg yolk and the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt to the bowl with the potatoes and stir until thoroughly combined. Set aside until the lamb filling is finished.
Shepherd’s Pie Stuffing :
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the ground lamb and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Stirring constantly, breaking up the meat, cooking until the meat has browned and is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Transfer the lamb to a plate lined with paper towels to drain any excess grease.
- Place the carrot and onion in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped, empty into a medium bowl and set aside. Repeat this process with the beets and the mushrooms and place in a separate medium bowl.
- Heat the oil in the large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the carrot and onion and cook until soft and slightly translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, beet, mushrooms, and 1 teaspoon of the salt and cook until they are tender but not mushy, another 5 minutes more.
- Return the lamb back to the pan with the vegetables; add the flour and stir until fully incorporated. Cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the rosemary, Worcestershire, tomato paste, thyme and the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt and cook for 2 minutes. Add the stock and continue to cook until the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes more. Stir in the frozen peas and remove from the heat.
- Spoon ½ cup of the lamb mixture into the hollow of each potato, then top with ¼ cup of the mashed potatoes, and finish with a sprinkle of the parmesan cheese.
- Turn the broiler to HIGH. Place the baking sheet under the broiler until the tops are slightly browned and the cheese has melted, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Transfer each potato half to individual plates and serve immediately.