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  • Writer's pictureTommy Centola

Irish specials for a day

My favorite time to visit New Orleans is the middle of March. This is when the parade I participate in is held, the Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Day parade. Along with my brothers and cousins, we march the streets of Uptown New Orleans, distributing beads and flowers to the families along the route.

Of course, the restaurant menus offer up Irish specials for the day. Corned Beef and Cabbage is found on the menu at one of the première restaurants in the city, Commander’s Palace. Last year, I shared with you a traditional corned beef and cabbage recipe. This year, I am featuring a dish to use up any leftover corned beef, Corned Beef Hash, along with a dish that is said to have originated in Ireland, Shepard’s Pie.

Corned Beef Hash is a great way to start a day. It is a perfect side dish to any breakfast or brunch. My favorite way to enjoy hash is with a sunny-side up egg on top. When you break into the yolk, it flows down into the hash, which adds a silkiness to your breakfast. If you really want a decadent dish, top your hash with a poached egg and Hollandaise sauce. It is also great on its own.

Corned Beef Hash

4 cups diced peeled Idaho Potatoes

Kosher Salt

3 tablespoons unsalted Butter

1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil

4 cups diced Onion

1 cup diced Bell Pepper (red, green, or a combination)

Freshly ground Black Pepper

12 ounces Corned Beef, cut into 1⁄4-inch cubes (2 generous cups)

1 tablespoon minced Garlic

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Place the potatoes in a medium saucepan and add just enough cold water to cover. Place over high heat and season with salt, stirring to dissolve. Bring to a boil, then immediately remove from the heat, drain, and set aside. In a 12-inch ovenproof nonstick skillet, heat the butter and oil over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes and spread out in a single layer. Cook, undisturbed, until golden brown on the bottom, about 8 minutes. Toss the potatoes, spread in a single layer again, and cook, stirring only occasionally, until most of the potatoes are golden brown and tender, about 4 minutes longer. Add the onion, bell pepper, 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, and 1⁄4 teaspoon pepper and stir well to combine. Cook until the onions and bell pepper are tender, about 4 minutes. Add the corned beef and garlic, stir again, and cook for another 2 minutes.

Shepard’s Pie is a dish that I was first introduced to in school. This traditional Irish dish was easy to make and serve for a large group of students. Don’t let that fact fool you. A well made Shepard’s Pie is an excellent entrée. The traditional recipe calls for ground lamb. There is also a dish known as a Cottage Pie, which is made with ground meat. The following recipe is a combination of the two. If you are not a fan of lamb, feel free to sub more ground beef. You may also add a layer of shredded cheese on top of the mashed potatoes.

Shepard’s Pie

1-1/2 pounds Potatoes

Kosher Salt

4 tablespoons Butter

3 tablespoons Olive Oil

1 cup chopped Onions

1/2 pound Ground Beef

1/2 pound ground Lamb or Pork

1 tablespoon All-purpose Flour

3/4 cup Beef Stock

Pinch or two dried Thyme Leaves

Creole Seasoning

Preheat oven to 350℉.

Peel and quarter potatoes. Put them in a large pot of salted water and bring to a boil. Cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid. Mash with 2 tablespoons butter. Slowly add cooking liquid and beat until fluffy.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat and add onions. Cook, stirring, until soft, 12 to 15 minutes. Increase heat to medium, and add meats. Cook, stirring, until browned and all pink has disappeared. Drain fat. Add flour and cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes. Add stock and thyme; season with Creole seasoning. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

Transfer meat mixture to a 9-inch pie pan or baking dish. Spread mashed potatoes evenly over lamb mixture. Dot with remaining butter and bake until browned, about 30 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.

Everyone is Irish on St Patrick’s day. Fortunately, I am Irish every day. Let me leave you with the following Irish Proverb: May you live as long as you want, and never want as long as you live.

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