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Comforting Sunday Suppers


Recipes | By Margaret M. Johnson

Nothing warms the heart (and the stomach) in winter more than a hearty stew, a mashed potato-topped casserole, or a crispy roasted chicken — one pot meals at their best!

Add a fresh green salad and a good bottle of wine and you’ve got the makings of a perfect Sunday supper.

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Golden roasted chicken with thyme and carrots[/caption]

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Who doesn’t love a crispy roasted chicken? To make it a one-pot meal, add 3 to 4 carrots, a few small new potatoes, and some small white onions.

1 (5 to 6 pound) pastured or free-range chicken


Ground pepper

Small bunch fresh thyme

1 lemon, cut in half

4 tablespoons butter, melted

2 heads garlic, peeled and cut in half

Mixed fresh herbs, chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 425° F.

  2. Rinse chicken inside and out. Pat dry and sprinkle salt and pepper in cavity. Stuff with thyme and lemon.

  3. Brush chicken with butter; sprinkle with herbs, salt, and pepper.

  4. Add chicken to roasting pan; add garlic. Roast chicken for 1 1/2 hours, or until juices run clear when you cut between leg and thigh. Remove from oven, transfer to platter, and cover with aluminum foil for 20 minutes. Slice chicken and serve.

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Both Shepherd’s Pie (made with ground lamb) and Cottage Pie (made with ground beef) are great make-ahead meals for a busy family and a great way to use up leftover mashed potatoes and vegetables.

3 tablespoons canola oil

2 pounds ground lamb

1 tablespoon butter

1 large onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

3 carrots, diced

2 small tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 1/2 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 cup homemade beef stock or canned low-sodium beef broth

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


Ground pepper

3 cups mashed potatoes

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup grated Cheddar cheese

  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Working in batches, cook lamb for 5 to 7 minutes per batch, or until all the meat is browned. With a slotted spoon, transfer meat to a large bowl and reserve; discard the fat.

  2. Melt butter in same skillet. Add onion, garlic, and carrots and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until soft but not browned. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, and flour, and then stir in broth, thyme, and parsley, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan; stir in lamb.

  3. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes, or until mixture thickens. Season with salt and pepper.

  4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat an 8- or 9-inch baking dish with cooking oil spray; spoon mixture into prepared pan.

  5. In a medium bowl, stir together mashed potatoes and half the cheese. Decoratively spread or pipe over meat mixture; sprinkle remaining cheese over top.

  6. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until top is browned and mixture is bubbling. Serve immediately.




This beef casserole, made with Irish ale, is a lighter version of traditional beef and Guinness and it comes with a cobbler topping made with Dubliner cheese. The casserole can be prepared in advance and left at room temperature with the cobbler added just before baking.


2 tablespoons flour


Ground pepper

1 1/2 pounds beef chuck or round, cut into cubes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, peeled and diced

1 garlic clove, minced

2 carrots, peeled and diced

3 stalks celery, diced

One (12 ounce) bottle Irish ale, such as Smithwick’s

2 cups homemade beef stock or canned low-sodium beef broth

1 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 sprig fresh thyme


2 cups self-rising flour

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

3 tablespoons cold unsalted Kerrygold Irish butter

1 cup shredded Dubliner cheese

1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

2/3 cups water

1 tablespoon milk, for brushing tops

  1. Make casserole. In a large re-sealable plastic bag, combine flour, salt, and pepper. Dredge beef in flour mixture; set aside.

  2. In a large ovenproof skillet or braising pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until soft but not browned.

  3. Add beef and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until browned on all sides. Add carrots and celery; stir to coat.

  4. Stir in ale, stock or broth, tomato purée, Worcestershire sauce, and thyme. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Uncover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes longer, or until meat and vegetables are tender and sauce starts to thicken; remove from heat.

  5. Make cobbler. Preheat oven to 350º F.

  6. Sift flour and mustard into a food processor; add salt, pepper, and butter. Pulse 4 to 5 times, or until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add cheese, Tabasco, and water. Process for 8 to 10 seconds, or until soft dough forms. (Add more water, if necessary).

  7. Transfer dough to a floured surface. Roll it out to ½-inch-thick round. With a 3-inch cookie cutter, cut out 7 to 8 rounds; reroll and cut out more rounds to make 12. Arrange on top of meat mixture, overlapping in a decorative pattern; brush rounds with milk. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until cobbler is golden and mixture is bubbling. Remove from oven and serve immediately.


Margaret Johnson’s “Recipes” page expands this year to “Ireland Hopping: Adventures in Food, Drink, and Travel.” Her newest cookbook, “Teatime in Ireland,” will be available soon! For further details on her work or to order a signed cookbook, visit