It seems, these days, that every other day is a holiday. Oh sure, there are the biggies, like Christmas, July Fourth, and Thanksgiving, but let’s not forget the other ones, like Groundhog Day, Presidents Day, and National Pie Day. What’s that? Yes, you heard right—National Pie Day, which happens to fall each year on January 23 and has done so since it was established in 1986 by the National Pie Council.
OK, so National Pie Day is an “unofficial” national holiday, but that’s no reason not to celebrate it. I love a good pie more than almost anything (except chocolate chip cookies, but that’s another discussion for another day). So, I thought, what better way to mark this special day than by spending a few moments contemplating the pie.
Did you know, for example, that the first pies appeared around 9500 BC in the Egyptian Neolithic period or New Stone Age? Sometime before 2000 BC, a recipe for chicken pie was written on a tablet in Sumer. Ancient Greeks are believed to have originated pie pastry, and a first century Roman cookbook mentions pies.
So what has this to do with All Things Irish? Glad you asked. Britain and Ireland have had a love affair with “pyes” since the 12th century that continues today. Think Cornish pasties, steak and kidney pies, and, of course, those unfortunate four-and-twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.
We at Ever Irish Gifts are not going to get quite so ambitious today, however. When I think of Irish pies, two immediately come to mind—one savory and one sweet. I’m talking about Irish Shepherd’s Pie and Bailey’s Irish Cream Pie. Could anything sound more delectable than a traditional Irish comfort food and a totally decadent dessert? Could there be a more appropriate way to celebrate National Pie Day, Irish style?
Here is a fabulous recipe for each. Enjoy, and happy Pie Day!
Stay Ever Irish,
Irish Shepherd’s Pie
Shepherd’s pie is believed to have existed since around 1791, when potatoes became an available, affordable crop to the poor. This dish was a perfect way to stretch leftover roasted meat then, and it’s still a hearty and delicious way to ward off winter’s chill today.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 lb ground beef or ground lamb (or a combination)
1 large onion, finely diced
3-4 large carrots, finely diced
1 cup frozen peas
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme, finely chopped
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon butter
½ cup red wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 cup chicken stock
1 pound potatoes, cooked and mashed (approx. 6 cups)
1 egg, beaten
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Saute carrots in the olive oil until starting to get tender.
3. Add in the onions and saute for a minute or two then add the meat.
4. Season with black pepper and thyme.
5. Cook until meat is browned then drain fat.
6. Add the butter and peas.
7. Sprinkle with flour and stir well to incorporate.
8. Add tomato paste, wine, and Worcestershire sauce.
9. Let this reduce slightly then add the chicken stock. Allow to reduce down until you have a thick, meaty gravy. Season with salt to taste.
10. Remove from heat. Grease a 9″ x 13″ ovenproof casserole dish and add the meat/gravy mixture.
11. Spoon or pipe the mashed potatoes over top. Brush with egg.
12. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the potato is nicely browned on top.
Bailey’s Irish Cream Pie
Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur is so creamily sweet and luscious that it could be a dessert all by itself. Add in Oreos, cream cheese, and chocolate and you’ve got heaven on a plate—no baking required!
28 Oreo cookies
½ stick butter, melted
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 8-ounce block of cream cheese
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream
1 good-quality chocolate bar, frozen
1. In a food processor, blend Oreos until crushed to a fine crumb. Pour into bowl and mix in ½ stick melted butter. Press mixture into a 9-inch pie dish. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour.
2. To melt the chocolate, place a heat-proof bowl on top of a saucepan filled with about 1 inch of briskly simmering water. The bowl should not touch the water. Add the chocolate chips to the bowl and stir frequently until the chocolate melts. Watch carefully so that the chocolate does not burn or separate. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat cream cheese for 2 minutes. Transfer whipped cream cheese into a clean bowl. In the mixing bowl, whip the heavy cream and ½ cup of Bailey’s until stiff peaks form. Once whipped cream is formed, fold in whipped cream cheese, melted chocolate, and remaining ½ cup of Bailey’s. Pour filling into the prepared pie dish. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.
4. Using a vegetable peeler, peel curls of chocolate from the frozen candy bar and use to garnish top of pie.