I’ve got a couple of different recipes for this year’s St. Patrick’s Day.  Yes I know, everyone is posting a variation or two.  This is my favorite go-to comfort-food, Shepherd’s Pie. It uses Guinness in the body of the recipe – although there’s nothing stopping you from having a cold one once it’s all done (just don’t get done!).  The second recipe is for Spicy (really, you thought Irish food was safe from the chili – sorry Joe!) Skillet Irish Cornbread and will be posted as a separate blog item.  While they may not necessarily go together in the same meal, they both taste great and are so easy to do.  So while you are making these recipes, here are some fun facts to ponder over a nice cold one (sources: www.catholic.org and www.wsaw.com).  As always – enjoy!  Beimedh a gole!

– March 17, 461 AD is indeed St. Patrick’s Day, it is the day he died
– Scholars suggest that the term “snakes” (the ones legend has him driving out of Ireland) may be figurative and refer to pagan religious beliefs and practices rather than reptiles or amphibians. The weather is too cool for snakes to live there.
– St. Patrick used the three leaf clover or shamrock to preach about the Trinity
– According to legend, each leaf represents something – hope, faith, love (and the fourth leaf) luck
– Your odds of finding a 4 leaf clover are about 1 : 10000
– According to Guiness, the highest number of leafs on a clover is 14 (this is the Guiness World Book – of Records, not the brew. Although I’m sure in my younger days, I saw more than 14 leaves on a clover after consuming “some” of that deliciously dark brew.)
– The shamrock, although a popular Irish symbol, is not the national symbol of Ireland, it is the harp
Now put down the Guinness and start cooking!

1 lb each – ground beef and pork, or 2 lbs. ground Lamb
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 habanero chili finely chopped (no smart comments
3 medium Russet potatoes, cut up, boiled and mashed with butter, salt and pepper
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen corn
2 tbsp. all purpose flour
1/4 cup beef stock or vegetable stock
1/2 cup Guinness

In a medium pot over medium heat – brown the meat, drain the oil
Add some fresh olive oil, onion, carrot and celery – stir to soften, add the garlic, stir
Add the flour and stir into the mixture, “cook” the flour taste out of the flour – couple of minutes
Add the stock, Guinness, peas and corn, simmer to thicken the liquid
Let the mixture cool – put into a casserole dish, top with the mashed potatoes
Optional: Sprinkle the top with grated parmesan cheese, paprika and a fresh thyme leaves
Bake at 350F for 30 minutes until the top is nicely browned and crisp
A meal on it’s own but if you really want something with it – steamed broccoli, asparagus or cooked cabbage – little bit of salt and pepper is all they need