by Tara Pederson

Around here, most of us treat St Patrick’s Day like any other excuse to party – Which isn’t to suggest it ISN’T. But its history is more than rivers of green beer.

For us, it is largely a celebration of Irish-American culture, but for the Emerald Isle, it has traditionally been a solemn affair. St Patrick, born into an aristocratic Roman British family, was kidnapped as a teen, enslaved and taken to Ireland.  

St. Patrick escaped after several years, and eventually returned as a missionary. Some sources cite his death as March 17, 461, though the exact date is unknown.  He became the patron saint of Ireland, honoring his conversion of much of Ireland’s population to Christianity. March 17 was declared a holy day for the nation’s catholics.

Blue was the color traditionally associated with St Patrick, but in representation of Ireland’s nickname – The Emerald Isle – green eventually became the color of choice. Parades and festivities began in U.S. cities with large Irish immigrant populations in the 1700s- Boston held its first St Patrick’s Day parade in 1737, followed by NYC and Chicago.

Regardless of your reasons, I hope you find a way to celebrate the beautiful food the Irish offer, this week and throughout the year.   With that, I leave you a favorite of mine!

The Recipe:

SHEPHERD’S PIE. {For the top layer you’ll need-4 large russet potatoes, peeled and quartered, 8 cloves garlic, peeled, 1/2 cup sour cream, 1/3 cup beef broth, 3 tbsp. softened butter, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper.}

Cover potatoes and garlic with water in a large sauce pan. Boil until tender, about 10-15 minutes. Strain, Add the rest of the ingredients and combine until fluffy, without overmixing. Add more broth if it’s too dry.

{For the bottom layer you’ll need 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled, 2 medium onions, diced, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 lb ground beef, 2 carrots, roughly chopped, 1/2 cups peas, 2 garlic cloves, minced, 1 tbsp. all purpose flour, 1 bottle dark beer, 1/2 cup beef broth, 1 tsp minced fresh rosemary, 1/2 cup grated cheese, 2 tbsp. fresh parsley}

Brown onions in bacon grease, stir in beef and salt, and cook 5 minutes on medium heat. Add carrots, peas and garlic, cook until soft. Add flour, cook until well blended. Add bacon, herbs and beer. Simmer 10-15 minutes until thick.

Spoon meat mixture into a greased or sprayed baking dish. Top with potato mixture. Bake at 350 degrees until lightly browned, about 25-30 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese and return to oven for another 5 minutes.