Just when we thought it was spring, cold weather arrives again to give us a nasty surprise. All the snow and cold has us in the mood to get to a cozy pub and order a pint of Magic Hat and some shepherd’s pie. This traditional British dish is a cross between a stew, a burger, and a steak dinner. Ground meat is fried along with some vegetables and simmered in a tasty stock until it’s flavorful as all get out. A layer of mashed potatoes is then added and the whole thing is baked until the potatoes crisp up beautifully. It’s one of the heartier things you’ll ever eat and, when it’s prepared well, also one of the more delicious. It’s a staple on Irish pub menus around the city, but three area pubs take it to another level.
•Both Phoenix Landing and Lir up the ante by adding cheese (jack and mozzarella, respectively), adding an international flavor in the process.
•Most shepherd’s pies are topped with creamed potatoes, which are great, but don’t necessarily impart a lot of flavor. The Pour House, our favorite spot for hangover food, tops their pie with garlic smashed potatoes, which not only crisp better, but also give the dish an agreeable kick.
•Of course, no discussion of Boston-area shepherd’s pie would be complete without a mention of The Druid. Their pie is closer to the traditional British version than most in North America and consists of a lamb stew topped by crispy mashed potatoes. No vegetables, no cheese. When your dish is that simple, each part had better shine, and shine it does. It’s rich, satisfying, and pretty damn close to perfect. On a cold winter’s mid-spring night, there’s nowhere I’d rather be.
[Photo: BBC Good Food]