These stuffed potatoes were the subject of one of the very first blog posts I ever wrote more than five years ago. That was way back when I had no idea what I was doing. (though some may argue that I still don’t). The formatting of that old post is a mess! And the photos? Well…let’s not even go there. Suffice it to say that I’ve learned a lot since then. But, the dish itself is a great one, and definitely doesn’t deserve to be hidden in the SGCC Hall of Shame. In fact, I plucked these babies out of obscurity because they would be a perfect thing to serve on St. Patrick’s Day. Their official name is Shepherd’s Pie Jacket Potatoes. And, they’re as Irish as shamrocks!
Several years ago, one of the musical groups I performed with went on a two week concert tour to Ireland and Scotland. It was a magical experience! From Galway to Glasgow, we shared our music wherever there was someone to listen. We performed in thatched-roof village churches, medieval castles, gardens and cathedrals. We even sang the song “Loch Lomond” on the banks of the actual Loch Lomond! I’ll treasure those memories forever.
One of the definite perks of the tour was the opportunity to stuff myself silly with lots of wonderful Irish and Scottish food. (Think scones with jam and clotted cream and obscene quantities of shortbread.) While I wouldn’t be sad if I never ate haggis again, I really enjoyed most of the other dishes I sampled – particularly the jacket potatoes. Jacket potatoes are what we here in the States call baked stuffed potatoes. I saw them on almost every menu of every cafe and pub I visited. There were even some places that had “jacket potato bars “ – like a sundae bar but with baked potatoes and various fillings.
Shepherd’s Pie Jacket Potatoes are simply baked potatoes stuffed with Shepherd’s pie meat filling. And, they are one of the easiest things in the world to make. Instead of topping the filling with mashed potatoes and baking it in a casserole, it is ladled onto a steaming hot baked potato. All the same ingredients are there – just in a different format. It’s like a deconstructed shepherd’s pie, if you will. I think it’s brilliant!
To make these spudly little parcels of yum, the first thing you have to do is bake some potatoes. I put my potatoes in the oven and prepare the filling while they bake.
You can make your shepherd’s pie filling using whatever kind of ground meat you prefer. I’ve made it with beef, lamb and turkey before, and they’re all good. I like to put lots of onions, carrots, peas and corn in mine too. Use what you like or use what you have. Just heat up your skillet and go!
By the time your potatoes are finished baking, the filling should be patiently waiting to smother them. Just split the potatoes down the middle and ladle a few heaping scoops inside. Then, smush it all around with your fork and dig in.
If you still haven’t gotten around to picking up the fixings for that bland, old corned beef and cabbage dinner you were planning, don’t sweat it. Try some hearty, homey and delicious Shepherd’s Pie Jacket Potatoes instead.
Shepherd’s Pie Jacket Potatoes
- 4 large baking potatoes
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- Coarse salt
- 1medium sweet onion, finely diced
- 1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced
- 1 pound ground beef or lamb
- 1 tablespoon ketchup
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
- 1/2 cup frozen green peas, thawed
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Shredded Irish cheddar for topping (optional)
- Preheat oven to 375 F. Wash potatoes and pat dry. Rub potatoes all over with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and coarse salt. Prick a few air holes in each potato with a fork. Bake for 1 hour or until soft to the touch.
- Meanwhile, make the filling. Pour the oil into a large cast iron skillet or frying pan and heat over medium-high heat. Add the onion and carrots and sauté just until they begin to get tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add the meat and cook until browned, breaking it up as it cooks. Stir in ketchup, broth and Worcestershire sauce, and bring to a simmer. Sprinkle in the flour and mix well. Continue to simmer gently over medium-low heat until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add the corn and peas to the meat mixture and continue to simmer another 5 minutes or so. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- When the potatoes have finished baking, remove from the oven and split each down the middle with a knife. Ladle 1/4 of the filling in and around each potato. Top with shredded Irish cheddar, if desired.