Whether it's St. Patrick's Day or not, Irish cooking can actually be pretty darn tasty, especially when Chef John dreams up the recipe.
The maestro behind the popular Food Wishes blog and Youtube channel combined his favorite corned beef and cabbage recipe with his favorite shepherd’s pie recipe for a must-try dinner delight. The ground, red meat pie cooked in a gravy or sauce with a topping of mashed potato is a staple of Irish culture, and a must-have come St. Patrick's Day or in the cooler months.
Although the recipe involves a few extra steps compared to your traditional boiled beef dinner, Chef John promises the payoff is “well worth the extra effort.” He kindly suggests layering the ingredients in a casserole dish to ensure each serving packs the perfect proportions of beed, cabbage, carrots and potatoes.
One last thing to remember before getting your Irish food fix: when buying your corned beef and picking between a flat, lean one and a thick, fatty, one, Chef John recommends going for the latter every time.
2 small heads Savoy cabbage, cored and cut into 2-inch pieces
3 medium carrots, thickly sliced
5 large russet potatoes, quartered
½ cup unsalted butter, cut into slices
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 cup milk
¾ cup grated Irish Cheddar cheese, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon chopped scallions, or to taste
Put corned beef in a pot with onion and celery and sprinkle spice packet over top. Pour in cold water to cover. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Skim off and discard any foam if desired. Once boiling, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer gently until tender; about 3 1/2 hours. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 145 degrees F (63 degrees C).
Carefully remove corned beef to a bowl and let cool. Taste broth and add salt if needed.
Bring broth to a boil over high heat. Add cabbage to the boiling broth. Cook until cabbage just starts to soften and sweeten up, about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon and remove cabbage to a bowl.
Add carrots to the boiling broth. Cook until carrots start to soften, about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon and remove carrots to a bowl.
Add potatoes to the boiling broth and reduce heat to medium. Cook until tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
While the potatoes are cooking, slice the cooled corned beef along the fatty seam to separate into 2 pieces. Identify the direction of the meat fibers and cut across them (against the grain) to slice into 1/4-inch thick slices, trimming off and discarding any giant pieces of fat. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Butter a 9x15-inch casserole dish.
Use a slotted spoon and remove cooked potatoes to a bowl. Reserve broth. Add butter, salt, pepper, cayenne and milk to the potatoes. Mix and mash until very smooth. Toss in 3/4 cup Cheddar cheese and mix until incorporated.
Pour cabbage into the prepared casserole dish and press on it until nicely compacted. Evenly distribute and press carrots over the cabbage. Place a nice, even layer of corned beef on top, overlapping a bit and distributing the nice fatty pieces evenly until fully covered. Pour in 1 cup of the reserved broth. Dollop mashed potatoes over top, then spread into a uniform layer with the back of a spatula. Switch to a fork and push potatoes to the edge of the dish. Then drag the fork sideways back and forth over the potatoes to create a texture. Repeat this texture going top to bottom over the potatoes. Sprinkle with a little more Cheddar.
Bake in the center of the preheated oven until beautifully browned and piping hot, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, warm any remaining broth over medium-low heat.
Cut Shepherd's pie into squares and garnish with scallions. Serve with warmed broth.