At the end of October, the doorway to the dark half of the Celtic year swings open. This is the festival of Samhain, meaning “Summer’s end.” For me, it’s a time to reflect on the past year and settle in for the season. What have I accomplished? What do I need to let go? This is a time to go forth with positive thoughts and new possibilities.
I usually prepare a feast and leave out an extra plate for anyone passing through—be it spirit or flesh and blood. A time when the veils between the worlds, seen and unseen, are verra thin.
I’m sharing a family favorite. I added a twist to the recipe a few years ago. Yams! It gives the dish a slighter sweeter taste.
However you celebrate, be safe and watch out for the faeries. They’ll be forever grateful if you leave them some milk, too.
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 lbs. ground beef, or turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons, chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups beef stock
1 cup Guinness
2 lbs. Russet or Yukon potatoes—OR Yams, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
½ cup milk
2 tablespoons Kerrygold Irish butter
1/2 cup Kerrygold Irish Cheddar, grated (optional)
In a large skillet, warm 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add your preference of meat and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until browned. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer meat to a bowl.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan. Stir in the onion and cook for 5 minutes, and onions are soft. Add the carrots, parsley, and thyme. Cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the flour, cook for several minutes, and then add the stock and Guinness. Bring to a boil. Add the meat, reduce heat to low, and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally for 20-25 minutes. Season again with salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook the potatoes for 12-15 minutes, or until tender. Drain and mash. Add the milk and butter. Stir until smooth.
Transfer the stew to a large casserole dish. Spread the mashed potatoes over the meat mixture and bake for 10-12 minutes. Preheat the broiler and sprinkle the potatoes with the grated cheese, if using. Broil until potatoes are slightly brown and cheese is bubbling.