Shepherd's Pie a Classic Irish Meal

Celebrating Culinary Legacy: Martha’s Irish Shepherd’s Pie with Mellow Road CBD

At Mellow Road CBD, your premier online CBD store, we not only provide top-quality CBD products but also celebrate the rich tapestry of cultural heritage that shapes our culinary experiences. Today, we embark on a journey into the heart of comfort food with Martha’s Irish Shepherd’s Pie, a timeless classic born from the depths of humble beginnings.

As we work our way through the shepherd’s pie recipe, every step speaks to a tale of survival and resilience – mirroring the hardships and victories of Irish immigrants who came to the US in search of opportunity and safety in the 1800s.

Come celebrate the memory of those who opened the path for future generations and enjoy the comfort and sustenance of Martha’s Shepherd’s Pie recipe as we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day!

Martha’s Irish Shepherd’s Pie

The ultimate comfort food, born from refrigerator cellar remnants

Martha’s Irish Roots Shepherd’s Pie

PREP:                   15 minutes

COOK:                  1 hour

TOTAL:                 1 hour 15 minutes

SERVINGS:          6 to 8 servings


For the Mashed Potato Topping for Shepherd’s Pie:

  • 1 1/2 pounds potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter sliced into pads
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 large egg yolks

For the Meat Filling for Shepherd’s Pie:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion chopped or sliced thinly 
  • 2 garlic cloves garlic pressed/minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 lb lean ground beef or ground lamb
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup beef or chicken broth (2 bullion cubes to 1 cup water microwave for 1 to 2 minutes)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1lb bag frozen veggies [Peas/Carrots/Corn/Broccoli/Asparagus are typical but use what you like]

Instructions for Shepherd’s Pie

  • Boil the potatoes for the topping: Peeling is optional – cut into 1-inch chunks. Potato skin is nutrition-rich, so we always leave potatoes unpeeled. Place in a medium saucepan. Add enough cool water to cover the potatoes by 1 inch. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. As soon as the water is boiling, uncover, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a gentle, steady simmer, until potatoes are fork tender, about 12 to 16 minutes. Drain the potatoes and return them to the saucepan. If the potatoes are very moist, heat the saucepan over low, shaking it occasionally, until any liquid on the surface of the potatoes has cooked off, about 1 minute, then remove from the heat.
  • Mix the topping together: With a potato masher or wooden spoon, mash the potatoes well. Scatter the butter pieces over the top. Add the Parmesan, salt, and pepper. 
  • With a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, stir a few times, until the butter is mostly melted.
  • In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup with a spout, whisk together the milk and egg yolk. 
  • Add to the potatoes. Stir to combine. The potatoes should be rich and fluffy.
  • Make the filling: Coat a 9×9, 8×10, or 11×7 casserole dish with nonstick spray. Place the rack in the center of your oven and preheat to 400℉. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Once it is hot and shimmering, add the onion and cook until it is beginning to brown, about 3 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and tomato paste. Stirring continuously, cook 30 seconds.
  • Add the beef (or lamb), salt, and pepper. Cook, breaking apart the meat, until it is browned and cooked through about 4 minutes. If there is excess grease in the pan, carefully drain it off (this should not be a problem if your beef is around 93% lean). 
  • Sprinkle the flour over the top, and cook, stirring continuously, for 1 minute.
  • Stir in the broth, Worcestershire, thyme, and bay leaf. With a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any stuck-on browned bits. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat to low, then cover the pan and let simmer gently until the sauce thickens slightly about 10 minutes. Remove the thyme and bay leaf. Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired. 
  • Stir in the veggies.
  • Transfer the meat mixture to the prepared dish, spreading it into an even layer. 
  • Add the mashed potatoes by spoonful over the top, starting around the edges to create a “seal” (this will prevent the filling from bubbling up). With a spatula, gently spread the potatoes into an even layer.
  • Bake the Shepherd’s Pie uncovered on the center rack for 25 minutes, or until the potatoes begin to brown. Let cool for at least 10 minutes prior to serving.

All this together makes up the classic Irish meal Shepherd’s Pie. We hope your Shepherd’s Pie turns out well and tastes amazing!

What’s the story about Sheperd’s Pie?

Shepherd’s pie, a beloved comfort food with hearty flavors, has its origins deeply rooted in British and Irish culinary traditions. Its history can be traced back to the late 18th century when it was a thrifty way to utilize leftover meat, particularly lamb or mutton, combined with vegetables and topped with mashed potatoes to make the classic dish Shepherd’s Pie. The name “shepherd’s pie” is thought to have originated in the United Kingdom, where it was commonly associated with shepherds and rural communities. In Ireland, a similar dish known as “cottage pie” emerged, using beef instead of lamb. Over time, shepherd’s pie has become a staple in British and Irish households, and its popularity has spread worldwide, evolving with regional variations and adaptations while maintaining its comforting and nostalgic appeal.

Irish immigrants came to our homeland, the United States of America have often been subject to hatred, racism, and ignorance. George Washington was Irish, and he was somebody significant. Our ancestors from the Clan Kelly pushed through and established new lives in our new ‘at the time’ country. History repeats itself, so we should be ever-mindful of fairness and human equality in our day-to-day comings and goings.

From 1846 to the early 1900s, Irish immigrants sought out a better life in the US

Most of the Irish people who came to America after 1846 were Catholic. The vast majority of people who came before were Protestants or Presbyterians, and they quickly fit in, in part because English was their first language. Most (but not all) of them had skills and maybe a little money saved up to start a new life. Not long after, they were free and doing well.

When the Irish came to America, it was during the Famine. When poor and needy Catholics showed up, things went very differently. Many of them spoke only Irish or a little English. This group of Irish newcomers was wary of the majority Anglo-American Protestants, which was a trait that was shared historically. They also didn’t speak English well and didn’t have many skills, so they looked for safety among their own kind. 

At this time, there was a famine in Ireland, and people came to America from two directions: across the Atlantic to the East Coast Ports (mostly Boston and New York), or by land or sea from Canada, which was then called British North America. Irish people lived in Britain too, and after 1847, tickets to Canada were often less expensive than tickets to the United States. People who made it through the trip often only had one thought: they wanted to be free from British rule. A lot of them decided to stay in Canada, but a lot more were able to find the way to America and the money to do it.

Discrimination against Irish people who come to the U.S.

The middle class, who were mostly Protestant and came to America from other countries, didn’t trust the poor Catholic immigrants who came in the middle of the 19th century. However, the main problem for the Irish immigrants was that they weren’t skilled enough. There were some people who were blacksmiths, stonemasons, bootmakers, and other skilled tradespeople, but most of them had never been trained in anything. Men wrote on their travel records that they were workers, while women wrote that they were housekeepers. Most of the time, they had little to no experience in these jobs before; these were the highest places they wanted to reach.

The Pilot in Boston

‘Missing Friends’ ads were printed in this national newspaper from 1831 to 1920. The ads usually included the exact townland where either the person being looked for or the person placing the ad was born. People’s routes to America and even the names of the ships they took were often given out. Because women didn’t apply for naturalization, it can be harder to figure out where they came from (their husbands usually did). This is especially true for ads that are about women. It costs money to use some sources to get this information, but the Boston College Irish Studies Program gives away a free, incomplete copy.

What they wanted was a job that paid money. The specifics didn’t matter much to them. Because they were not skilled, trained, or could read or write, they took the lowest-level jobs that other immigrant groups didn’t want. The so-called “Elegant Society” and almost everyone else looked down on them!  They had to work long hours for little pay. Cities in the United States that were growing needed cheap labor to build canals, roads, bridges, trains, and other building projects. They also found work in the mining and quarrying businesses. 

When the economy was good, people from Ireland who came to America were welcome. But when things weren’t going well, like they were in the mid-1850s, there was social unrest. It could be especially hard for foreigners who were seen as taking jobs from Americans. The Irish were treated badly because they were already low on the social ladder. “No Irish Need Apply” was a common phrase used in job ads.

Irish Coming to America: Steamship Competition

After 1855, the number of Irish people coming to America stopped rising. Ship makers were urged to make bigger ships, though, because the numbers kept going up. Most of them still went east with goods to help England’s industrial revolution, but shipowners started to see that it would be better for business to focus on carrying people in the steerage. Conditions on board started to get better. They weren’t even close to being comfy today, but they got better nonetheless. By 1855, there were more and more iron steamships that were over 1500 tons, and the battle was getting tougher. So much so that steerage fares on steamships were often less than on sailing ships, and the trip took a lot less time—less than two weeks instead of four. Cutting down on travel time was good in two ways. Not only did this mean the emigrant had to deal with the pain of steerage for a shorter time, but it also made the idea of leaving family and home country to come to America seem less final. As the size of the emigrant ships got bigger, more and more Irish people left Ireland and went to Liverpool, which is in northwest England across the Irish Sea, to catch a boat to America. The bigger ships could fit more easily in this huge port than in the small harbors in Ireland.

Coming to New York: Castle Garden

During the 1800s, New York was the main way people came to the United States. On August 3, 1855, the city’s first immigrant processing station was opened by the Board of Commissioners of Immigration. It used to be a fort, a cultural center, and a theater. It is now located in Castle Garden, close to the Battery at the southern end of Manhattan. It was now put to use as a place to take in foreigners. 

A lot of people from all over the world came through Castle Garden before it closed on April 18, 1890. It’s now a museum and a place where you can buy boat tickets to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.  The records for Castle Gardens that are still around can be found on a free online database that also has a lot of records from other American ports from 1830.  However, the records are mixed up, so if you find an entry for an ancestor, you will need to check the port of entry. There are two ways to do this: find a microfilm of the ship’s log at NARA or use Ancestry’s online collection (for a fee).

The numbers show that almost half a million (483,000) Irish-born people wanted to move to New York. Ninety-nine thousand of them were in New York City. There were more than 260,000 people living in Massachusetts, mostly in Boston. There were also 124,000 people living in Illinois, with 79,000 of them living in Chicago.

When Castle Garden closed in 1890, both Irish and other newcomers went through a temporary office called the Barge Office. Then, on January 1, 1892, the Ellis Island welcome center opened. Annie Moore, a 15-year-old from County Cork, was the first person to be processed. Over the next 62 years, more than 12 million people would follow her. This was the start of a change in how people felt about the Irish. Probably the most important event was the Civil War. Tens of thousands of Irish soldiers fought bravely and earned respect and acceptance from Americans as a result. They made up the majority of at least 40 Union units. and Irish-Americans from the second or third generation had worked their way up the social and management ladder from work as children. Some were even starting to work as professionals. Of course, this wasn’t what most people got.

Hundreds of thousands of Irish refugees were still living in poverty in 1900, mostly in slums in cities. But a lot of people’s economic situations were getting better, and Irish people in general were getting ahead at work, especially in the police, fire service, and labor or trade union movement. Cities with lots of Irish people, like Boston, Chicago, and New York, were able to send their own candidates to power, which started the Irish American political class. About 2.12% of people living in the US at the turn of the century were born in Ireland and came to live there. Even more important, 6.53% were Irish Americans or people born in the United States to Irish parents. A very large group, indeed.

At Mellow Road CBD, we are proud to share this cherished recipe with you, infused with our commitment to quality and wellness. As you savor each bite, may you not only enjoy the delicious flavors but also reflect on the rich history and cultural heritage that inspire us to embrace tradition and celebrate unity. Be sure to check out our high-quality products in our online CBD store for more delicious experiences!