The Luck of the Irish (and Shepherd’s Pie) Is With Us

Books can sweep your mind to far-away places when you must stay home, but it’s the beauty and peace of the Irish countryside that fills my heart these days. St. Patricks’ Day seems like an appropriate time to relive some of my favorite memories from the Irish adventure we enjoyed in July 2022 with a group of Latham® dealers.

Highlights of that trip included a visit to the Cliffs of Moher, a private tour of Jameson Distillery in Midleton and a pint inside The Gravity Bar. Its figure-eight shape gives guests a 360-degree panorama, which includes the Wicklow Mountains where Guinness sources its freshwater. (Irish water is also the secret ingredient in Jameson Whiskey . . . but I digress.)

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Another favorite stop for me was a visit to Ballymaloe, where I purchased a beautiful coffee table cookbook entitled “30 Years at Ballymaloe” by Darina Allen. Allen started Ireland’s first farmers market and helped develop it into a national industry. She and her brother Rory O’Connell established Ballymaloe Cookery School in 1983. As a tireless ambassador for Irish cooking, Allen has authored more than 10 books and presented on six television series. Today one of her daughters-in-law, who graduated from Ballymaloe Cookery School, has taken on many of Allen’s duties.

The importance of using fresh, local ingredients is taught at Ballymaloe Cookery School. I agree the most delicious food is prepared when using the highest quality ingredients. Because I don’t have greenhouses and our gardens are still frozen in the Upper Midwest, I have adapted a recipe from Ballymaloe for Shepherd’s Pie.

I’m also linking to my family’s favorite recipe for the Best Dang Mashed Potatoes. As an empty nester, I’m all about repurposing leftovers. A “round one” recipe of Iowa Ham Balls with a side of mashed potatoes becomes a “round two” recipe of Shepherd’s Pie. Brownies, however, go with every meal in my opinion! Which one of these recipes do you think I should try first: Guinness Brownies with Irish Cream Frosting or Fudge Guinness Brownies with Salted Caramel?

Adaptation of Ballymaloe Shepherd's Pie



  • 1/4 stick butter
  • 4 Tablespoons yellow onion (chopped) or 1 Tablespoon onion powder
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste with a splash of water
  • 2 teaspoons mushroom ketchup (optional)
  • 1/3 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/3 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Salt and ground pepper to taste
  • 1 pound ground beef, browned
  • 6 large potatoes (the best dang mashed potatoes)



  • Melt the butter; add onion. Cook until the onion becomes translucent.
  • Add flour and cook until brown.
  • Add beef stock and bring to the boil.
  • Turn down heat before adding tomato paste, mushroom ketchup (optional) and spices.
  • Simmer for 5 minutes, and then add the meat to the sauce. Return to a boil.
  • Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking.
  • Transfer into in a pie dish; cover with the mashed potatoes and score with a fork.
  • Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbling.
  • Garnish with parsley and serve with Ballymaloe Garlic Butter.