PANAMA CITY — It would not be St. Patrick’s Day without a great Shepherd’s Pie. And, of course, here at Just The Cook, we have to make it our own!

A quick internet search and you’ll find 10 different variations of this delectable dish on every page. They all vary based on region, heritage or simply what was available in the pantry at that time. So in keeping with the area and fresh ingredients available to use here in St. Andrews, we definitely use rosemary in our lamb seasoning; and in keeping with my family's heritage, we are using my Momma’s Burnwell Kentucky Mashed Potatoes recipe.


Shepherd’s Pie with Burnwell Kentucky Mashed Potatoes

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

2 pounds of ground lamb, (you can substitute for Beef, but go with a low fat content)

1 large onion, grated

1 large carrot, grated

4 garlic cloves, grated

1 serrano pepper, grated

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1½ tablespoons tomato paste (plain)

2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped

1 cup red wine

1 cup low-sodium chicken stock

Salt and Tellicherry pepper to taste

Burnwell Kentucky Mashed Potatoes:

2½ pounds potatoes (Golden, peeled and cut into chunks)

2 tablespoons Hellmann's Mayonnaise (more if ya need it!)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

8 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

Salt and Tellicherry pepper to taste (be careful, as the Parmesan is salty)

This recipe will put together real quick, so go ahead and preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Add oil to a large pan on medhigh heat; once hot, add lamb or ground beef. Season with salt and Tellicherry pepper. Break up the meat as you fry it. After about 3 minutes, go ahead and add onions, carrots, grated garlic and continue to combine the ingredients. Add Worcestershire sauce, tomato puree, rosemary, thyme and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes more. Add red wine and cook until it has completely reduced. Now add chicken stock and reduce as well. Once reduced, taste, season and rest mixture.

Add peeled and chopped potatoes to pot of boiling water. Cook until fork tender, about 13-14 minutes. Once potatoes are done, strain them and return potatoes to the pot. Now, add salt, Tellicherry pepper, butter, mayo, and 6 tablespoons of the Parmesan. Mash until they are done like you like them.

Pour the meat mixture into oven-safe dish; spread out evenly. Now evenly cover the meat mixture with mashed potatoes. Sprinkle mashed potatoes with remaining Parmesan. Fluff up potatoes with a fork causing peeks to appear. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes. The peaks will brown, just don’t let them burn! When the dish is bubbling and brown, it is done! Enjoy!


Ernie Hall is the owner of Just the Cook, 3151 W. 10th St., Slip 80, at the St. Andrews Marina. He will be serving Shepherd's Pie, along with his regular menu, at his floating restaurant on St. Patrick's Day.