Irish Shepherd’s Pie With Guinness

Shepherd’s pie may have originated in England, but it was adopted by Irish people many years ago.  I grew up eating shepherd’s pie.  To give my version of this traditional dish a true Irish flair, I have added Guinness stout to the beef mixture.

Shepherd’s pie is comfort food at it’s finest, especially when it has a little Irish flavor thrown in.  Hope you enjoy my version of this delicious main course.

 

 Ingredients:

Shepherd’s Pie:

  • 3 tablespoons olive or canola oil
  • 2lb lean ground beef
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt and pepper (to season meat and potatoes)
  • 1 onion (large)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup guinness stout
  • 1 tablespoon bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 12oz peas and carrots (frozen)
  • 3lb russet potatoes
  • 2oz butter (1/4 stick)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
  • 1 cup white cheddar cheese (grated)

Gravy

  • 2 packets brown gravy mix
  • 1 and 1/2 cup water
  • 3fl oz guinness stout
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar

 

Before I start cooking the beef, I usually peel and cube my potatoes, cover them with water and set them to boil in a large saucepan.  Add some salt to the cooking water.  If you peel your potatoes in advance of cooking the meal, do not add salt until you plan to cook the potatoes.  Salty water draws the juices out of potatoes, if they are left to stand too long before cooking.  Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer.  After 15 to 20 minutes they should be fork tender and ready to be drained.

While the potatoes are boiling, season the beef with salt and pepper.  Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet.  Brown the beef in two to three batches, depending upon the size of your skillet.

Make sure the beef is fully browned before turning into a colander to strain the excess fat.

I like to sit my colander over a glass bowl to collect the excess fat and juices.  I then soak it up in paper towels and throw it in the trash.  Our water company has requested we limit how much meat fat gets put down the drain.  Meat fat can easily clog plumbing pipes.

While the meat is sitting to the side, add the last tablespoon of oil to the pan and brown the onions and garlic in the skillet.

My husband does not like the texture of onions, so here is a little trick I use to include their vital flavor, but eliminate the texture he so detests.  I put the fried onions, garlic and the beef broth in my blender, then liquify the onions.  I know most gourmet chefs are probably cringing at this idea, but a girl’s got to do, what a girl’s got to do, when her man doesn’t like onions!!!

Return the beef to the skillet with the onions (if you have not liquified them).  Next add the tomato paste and dijon mustard.

Pour the Guinness and worcestershire sauce into the meat mixture.

Add the beef broth, or in my case, the beef broth and pureed onions.  The broth in this picture looks more like Guinness because of the frothy, liquified onions.  Stir the liquids well through the meat mixture.

Spices are next.  Toss in the thyme, parsley, sage and marjoram.  Another quick stir is needed to disperse them throughout the beef broth.

Brown sugar helps to take away some of the bitterness of the Guinness.

A few bittersweet dark chocolate chips are my secret weapon, to enhance the depth of the Guinness flavor.  Mix well to ensure the chocolate melts and melds throughout the skillet.  Return the mixture to the boil, then turn the heat down to low and allow to simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until the mixture is thick and glossy.

While the meat mixture is simmering, the potatoes should be tender.  Strain the potatoes, then mash them, or pass them through a potato ricer.  I use a good old-fashioned potato masher.  You can use a hand mixer, but be careful not to over-beat these starchy, russet potatoes.  They can get gluey if the starch is released by over-beating.

Add the butter and 1/4 cup of sour cream to start.  Mix thoroughly with the masher, and add extra sour cream as needed to produce a smooth potato mixture.  The exact amount is dependent upon how starchy your particular potatoes may be.

Here is a photo of my finished mash.

When the meat mixture has thickened nicely, pour it into the bottom of a greased 2-quart glass baking dish.  My dish is 8″ x 11″.

Top the meat layer with thawed peas and carrots, spreading them evenly over the surface of the meat.

Next comes the potato layer.  Spoon the mashed potato over the vegetable layer and spread gently over the top, trying not to disturb the lower layers.  When evenly spread, cross hatch the surface with a fork.  Place the shepherd’s pie in an oven pre-heated to 350 degrees F.  Cook for 15 minutes before adding a layer of grated cheese.

If you wish to prepare this dish in advance of cooking, you can cover and store a pre-made shepherd’s pie in the fridge for a day prior to cooking.  If you are cooking it after taking it out of the fridge, remember to extend the cooking time to one hour, since it will not be going into the oven hot.

My favorite white cheddar is Kerrygold’s Dubliner cheese, which is available here in the United States.

After 15 minutes of cooking I remove the casserole dish and spread the grated cheese over the top of the potatoes.  Reducing the time the cheese is in the oven eliminates the risk of the cheese burning before the pie is fully cooked.  Return to the oven and bake for a further 20 to 30 minutes.

The shepherd’s pie is ready when the surface is golden brown and crisping at the edges.  Remove it from the oven.  While it is cooling, there is plenty time to make a little Guinness gravy to accompany it.

Add the brown gravy packets to the water in a saucepan and whisk together to eliminate all clumps.

Add tomato paste.

Then comes the worcestershire sauce.

And then the key ingredient, the last 3 ounces of Guinness remaining in the bottle.  I hate waste, so I decided why not use the last few drops of Guinness to enhance a little gravy to accompany this dish.

Add a teaspoon of brown sugar and whisk the gravy as it comes to the boil.  Keep stirring it to prevent any lumps.  Remove from the heat once it starts to bubble.

I like to serve my shepherd’s pie with a little Guinness gravy poured over the top, some steamed broccoli and a few mushroom caps, sauteed in oil and a dash of worcestershire sauce.

Shepherd’s pie is one of our family’s favorite meals. I hope you and yours enjoy it as much as we do.

Here is the printable recipe:

Irish Shepherd’s Pie With Guinness

Serves 6 - 8
Prep time 1 hour
Cook time 45 minutes
Total time 1 hour, 45 minutes
Meal type Main Dish
Misc Pre-preparable, Serve Hot
Region Irish
Shepherd’s pie is comfort food at its finest and originated in England. Irish people adopted it many years ago. To give my version of this traditional dish a true Irish flair, I have added Guinness stout to the beef mixture.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons Olive or canola oil
  • 2lb Lean ground beef
  • 1/4 teaspoon Sea salt and pepper (to season meat)
  • 1 Onion (large)
  • 2 teaspoons Minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons Tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup Beef broth
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup Guinness stout
  • 1 tablespoon Bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon Brown Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon Dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dried sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dried marjoram
  • 12oz Peas and carrots (frozen)
  • 3lb Russet potatoes
  • 2oz Butter (1/4 stick)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup Low-fat sour cream
  • 1 cup White cheddar cheese (grated)

Gravy

  • 2 packets Brown gravy mix
  • 1 and 1/2 cup Water
  • 3fl oz Guinness stout
  • 1 teaspoon Tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Brown Sugar

Directions

Step 1 Peel and cube the potatoes and place them in a large saucepan. Cover them with water. Turn the heat on high and set them to boil. Add some salt to the cooking water. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer. After 15 to 20 minutes they should be fork tender and ready to be drained.
Step 2 While the potatoes are boiling, season the beef with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet. Brown the beef in two to three batches, depending upon the size of your skillet. Strain the beef through a colander to drain off the excess fat. Set aside.
Step 3 Add the last tablespoon of oil to the pan and brown the onions and garlic in the skillet.
Step 4 Return the beef to the skillet with the onions. Next add the tomato paste and dijon mustard, the Guinness, worcestershire sauce and beef broth. Stir well.
Step 5 Add the thyme, parsley, sage and marjoram. Stir to disperse them throughout the beef broth.
Step 6 Add the brown sugar and chocolate chips. Stir well to ensure the chocolate melts and mixes throughout the skillet. Return the mixture to the boil, then turn the heat down to low and allow to simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until the mixture is thick and glossy.
Step 7 While the meat sauce is reducing over low heat, strain the potatoes when tender. Mash well or pass them through a potato ricer. Add the butter and half the sour cream. Mash thoroughly, adding additional sour cream as necessary to smooth the consistency of the mashed potatoes.
Step 8 When the meat mixture has thickened nicely, pour it into the bottom of a greased 2-quart glass baking dish (8″ x 11″). Top the meat layer with thawed peas and carrots, spreading them evenly over the surface of the meat. Spoon the mashed potato over the vegetable layer and spread gently over the top.
Step 9 Place the shepherd’s pie in an oven pre-heated to 350 degrees F. Cook for 15 minutes before adding a layer of grated cheese. Return to the oven and bake for a further 20 to 30 minutes. The shepherd’s pie is ready when the surface is golden brown and crisping at the edges. Remove it from the oven. While it is cooling, make some Guinness gravy.
Step 10 Add the brown gravy packets to the water in a saucepan over high heat. Whisk in tomato paste, worcestershire sauce, Guinness and brown sugar. Keep whisking the gravy as it comes to the boil. Remove from the heat once it starts to bubble.
Step 11 Using a metal serving spatula, divide the shepherd's pie into 6 to 8 rectangular servings. Serve with gravy poured over top, if desired.

Slan agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

Irish American Mom

 

P.S.  The folks at Kerrygold have never heard of me.  I just love their cheese, and thought I might share with you.  It brings back memories of my childhood, and the sweet, nutty flavors of Irish cheddar cheese.

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Comments

  1. The Barefoot Indian says:

    This looks sooo good! Can you believe I’ve never made a Shepherd’s Pie?!? I must give this a try! After all, I have an entire freezer FULL of ground beef! And with gravy?!? Yum!
    ~Piper

  2. netsey preston says:

    How did you get that golden finish on the mushroom tops?

    • My trick for getting the tops of the mushrooms so golden brown is to use a thickly folded piece of paper towel to mop up the excess liquid the mushrooms produce as they are sauteeing. I usually fry them on the hollow side first, then switch them over to the top sides, keeping the pan as dry as possible – mushrooms lose a lot of moisture when frying and if this accumulates in the bottom of the pan it won’t let you get that lovely golden finish on them. Be careful not to burn your fingers! Also, a dash of worcestershire sauce into the pan just before the end of cooking adds a nice hint of color and flavor.

      Hope this helps and thanks for visiting.

  3. I made this last night for my wife and mother-in-law as well as our kids. They all said it was better than their mom made! Love this recipe. I’m going to try your others as well.

    • So glad your shepherd’s pie got family approval and that everyone liked the Guinness flavor. Thanks also for putting a link back on your blog to mine. Hope you enjoy my other recipes. Thanks for visiting.

  4. Keith Robinson says:

    I was thinking about making a Shepherd’s Pie the other day. I’m glad I ran across this. Thanks!!

  5. Can this be frozen and if yes at what stage would I freeze it?
    Thanks

    • Daria – The mashed potato layer does not freeze well. What I do is pre-make the meat layer and freeze it. Then I can assemble the shepherd’s pie with the defrosted meat, the veggie layer and mashed potato on the day I want to serve it. I hope this helps.

      Mairead

  6. I have a silly question….Is Guiness beer that’s been in the fridge for 10 months still good?

    • Hi Lisa – Most American beers have an expiration date, but since Guinness is imported from Ireland I don’t think you’ll find a date. I checked a bottle I have in my fridge and couldn’t see any dates. I personally would use 10 month old Guinness, especially it it has been kept in the fridge. If it was in a hot garage most of that time, I would think twice before using it. Give it a whiff when you open it, just to make sure it still has a nice fresh beer smell before cooking with it.

      Happy St. Patrick’s Day and I hope your shepherd’s pie turns out great.

      Mairead

  7. I just made the Irish Shepherd’s Pie w Guiness for the first time. Not only is this my first time to make it. It is my first time to have Shepherd’s Pie. It’s St Patrick’s and I was looking for something besides Corned Beef… That tends to get boring. When It’s done cooking I can’t wait to taste it!!!! I even died the mashed potatoes green. Thank the Lord for Google and me finding this recipe!!!!

    • Tiffany – You really were creative, making green mashed potatoes. Hope you all had a wonderful day. I am so glad you found my website through Google. Come back and visit whenever you get a chance.

      Mairead

  8. Thank you for your detailed pictures and descriptions of this yummy dish! My husband who is picky had 3 servings of this dish!!! When I told him I was getting Guinness to make the Shepherds Pie that he requested for St. Patrick’s Day dinner (he is Irish) he was not too sure about it but it was worth the “argument” we had rather I should make it or not. LOL! Thanks again!

  9. BettyAnne White says:

    I want to thank you so much for the “Irish Shepherd’s Pie”. I am over 1/2 Irish, from MA. My family kept the Irish part hidden for the sake of business back in the 50’s. Anyhow, I am trying to resurrect Irish traditions in my family and this dish was a HUGE hit. Thank you so very much!

  10. I made this pie for my family last night. It was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone. Wonderful recipe. Thank you, once again.

  11. Love your blog. Love shepherd’s pie – this is the best recipe we’ve tried.

    Thank you for showing us so many great ways to express our Irish side!

  12. This shepherd’s pie is so unique in so many ways. Especially the use of chocolate chips…reminds me of a Mexican chili I’ve made in the past. This is the best shepherd’s pie recipe I think I’ve ever seen! The replies you’ve made to reader comments and comments below the photos are really helpful! Thanks for sharing!

    • So glad you like this recipe, Bonnie. It was a Mexican stew that inspired me to use chocolate chips to compensate for the bitter taste of Guinness. I think the two flavors complement each other magically. Thanks for stopping by and leaving such a great comment.
      Best wishes!
      Mairead

  13. I just have to say it was the easiest recipe to follow. I’m not a big cook but I’m enjoying making your recipies.im not Irish but love Ireland . I’ve already made Irish stew and I’ve done bangers and mash. I’m gonna try your leek and potato soup. Thank you for making it so easy.

    • Erika – Thank you so much for letting me know you enjoyed this Shepherd’s pie and some of my other Irish recipes. I’m glad to hear my step-by-step photo instructions are useful. Potato and leek soup is one of my favorites, so I hope you enjoy it too. Thanks for stopping by and for your kind words.
      All the best,
      Mairead

  14. The wandering chef says:

    I have been cooking all my life since i was a little boy helping mom and grandma in the kitchen. I’m also Irish American and have made my own version of Shephard’s pie (which is tasty), but your recipe really intrigue’s me (especially the bittersweet choc. and Guiness). Are you married? lol… I’m really glad i stumbled upon your website and look forward to trying your other recipe’s as well.

    • So glad you stumbled upon my site too. Thanks for your lovely comment. Like you I love to cook, and learned from my mom and granny as a little girl. They only cooked Irish food, since I grew up there. I was ten before I ever even tasted a pizza. Luckily my husband also grew up on Irish food, so he really enjoys the tastes of home I create, often with a little twist like chocolate in the sauce.
      Take care and happy cooking,
      Mairead

  15. Hello! So glad to find your site! I made the Shepher’s Pie tonight and my husband says it is in his top 3 best meals I have ever made! :-) Love how you said to use the Dubliner cheese! I really think it makes all the difference! I love all their cheeses. I have yet to try their butters…worth trying? Thanks, again, and I will definitely be back for some more recipes!

    • Deirdre – Dubliner cheese really does add an extra layer of flavor to this dish. So glad it passed your husband’s taste test. Thanks for stopping by my site and checking out my recipes.
      All the best,
      Mairead

  16. the irish make their sheppards pie with lamb that is traditional, this is called cottage pie.

    • Bob – Thanks for pointing this out. I have heard that traditionally the Irish used ground lamb for a shepherd’s pie and that beef was used for a cottage pie. My recipe title is probably technically incorrect, but when I was growing up we always called our ground beef casserole with mashed potatoes shepherd’s pie. I asked my husband, and in Donegal they called it shepherd’s pie too. By the 1960’s and 1970’s we were probably being influenced by television from England and had adopted some of their terms. Thanks for stopping by and adding this valuable piece of information.
      All the best,
      Mairead

  17. Terrance O'Hara says:

    I love shepards pie, I’ve herd it called Cottage Pie- with beef, Shepard’s pie-with lamb. Kerry Gold Dubliner cheese is delish, like mine applied after the potatoe peaks have browned and just melted not browned. Also, I like to make my mashed potatoes fairly loose due to being reheated and drying out, as well as my beef, I like to make my gravy right in my beef mixture. I mix the peas and carrots with the beef and let them set so when my loose potatoes are placed on top they don’t mix. Just some ideas.

  18. Thanks so much for this recipe! I made it for St. Patty’s Day and it was by far the best Shepherd’s pie I’ve had – I think the gravy really made it. Slainte!

  19. I was googling some Irish recipes for a church function and your blog came up. LOVE IT! I am curious though, because I am wanting to make this dish for a church function I am “iffy” on making it with the Guinness. If I were just making it for my family I would make it as is, but for church, I’m not so quick on that. I know the alcohol flavor will most likely not be that noticeable, but I would like to not have to leave any info out if asked what is in it. Do you have any suggestion as to what can replace the Guinness without altering the flavor too much?
    Our church function is an International Dinner where everybody has a table decorated and with food traditional to the country chosen. The countries represented are where we have missionaries. My husband & I chose Ireland because my husband is Irish (a few generations removed, but still Irish, with red-headed daughters & all…lol). I am Scottish, but I figured that Ireland is close enough since we do not have a missionary in Scotland and, plus, I love Ireland just the same because that’s where my husband’s family originated. Anyways, sorry for babbling. My question is, having lived in Ireland, do you have any suggestions on how to make our table as traditional as possible? I want to do this beautiful country the justice it deserves. Thank You in advance & keep up the great work with your blog. As I said before, LOVE IT!!

    • Erin – Glad you found my site and I hope your Shepherd’s Pie will be a great success at your church function. I understand how you need to eliminate the Guinness to suit all tastes. If you do leave it out, I would just increase the beef broth to 1 and 1/2 cups, not 2 cups. Guinness is thicker than broth so your meat mixture may be too wet using 2 cups of broth. Also leave out the brown sugar and chocolate chips since their role is to counteract the bitterness of the Guinness. The tomato paste, dijon mustard, worcestershire sauce and spices should provide plenty of flavor to the meat mixture. Hope this turns out well.
      As for your table setting I think if you use a little touch of green on the table either in the napkins or table cloth you should have a nice Irish theme. When using shamrock motifs, the Irish tend to favor small green shamrocks against a white background, rather than the larger shamrocks used in America. A traditional Irish table for a celebratory occasion would probably be covered in an Irish white linen table cloth, and then a piece of Belleek china or Waterford glass used as a center piece. Since these are difficult items to get in the US, I think a little touch of green would be just fine.
      Have a wonderful evening with your friends from church, and I know you will represent Ireland with pride.
      Best wishes,
      Mairéad

      • Thank you so much for your suggestions for the table & the suggested changes for the dish. These, I know, will be perfect! :-)

      • Ruth Byers says:

        How can you possibly call it traditional when you use beef instead of lamb. Shame on you!

  20. Jason Doty says:

    So far I have tried your Yorkshire Pudding, Your scones, and your Irish Shepard’s Pie!! All Delicious and my family loves it all!!
    Thank You- Jason

  21. This looks amazing! I grew up on Shepherd’s pie as well but the Guinness addition is something that never even occurred. I’m going to give that a try. I’ve even got a bottle in the fridge right now. Thank you for sharing the recipe.

    • Hi Lisa – I hope you enjoy this version of Shepherd’s pie. I love to make it for dinner since we usually eat leftovers the second day. I love when I can cook once and eat twice, so this is a perfect dish for a busy mom.
      All the best,
      Mairead

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    [...] found this on an awesome blog that you can read here . The short story is that this is the most amazing Shepherd’s pie recipie ever. I would rank [...]

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