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.
The Irish version of English shepherd’s pie is usually called cottage pie, since Irish shepherd’s pie is usually made with lamb, not beef.
However, I grew up calling this beef dish shepherd’s pie, and so even if I have not named it exactly right, I’m going to stick with calling shepherd’s pie with Guinness.
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.
Technically, what I am sharing today is actually a cottage pie in Ireland. A beef layer in this casserole is called cottage pie and a layer of lamb mince is used for true Irish shepherd’ pie.
However, I grew up calling this shepherd’s pie, so I’m going to stick with that name.
I hope you’ll excuse me and enjoy my version of this delicious main course.
Ingredients for Shepherd’s Pie with Guinness:
Here you’ll find a quick list of what you’ll need for this recipe. Check out the printable recipe at the bottom of this post for US and Metric equivalent versions of the recipe. There you can choose the measurement system that works best for you.
- olive or canola oil
- lean ground beef
- sea salt and pepper (to season meat and potatoes)
- minced garlic
- tomato paste
- dijon mustard
- beef broth
- worcestershire sauce
- Guinness stout
- bittersweet chocolate chips
- brown sugar
- dried thyme
- dried parsley
- dried sage
- dried marjoram
- peas and carrots (frozen)
- russet potatoes
- low-fat sour cream
- white cheddar cheese (grated)
- brown gravy mix
- Guinness stout
- tomato paste
- worcestershire sauce
- brown sugar
Directions for Irish Shepherd’s Pie with Guinness
Here you’ll find step-by-step photographic instructions to help you recreate this recipe successfully. There are plenty of tips included along the way.
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.
A reader alerted me that their meat mixture turned out too wet. The issue probably arose during the simmering stage, which reduces the amount of liquid in the skillet.
If you put a lid on the pan as it simmers the liquid returns to the meat mixture rather than reducing the amount of liquid. The heat of the burner beneath the skillet will also determine how much liquid is removed via steam.
I use a window of 20 to 30 minutes for simmering since the humidity of the kitchen will also affect how long it takes to thicken.
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 ¼ 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.
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. I
f 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:
Shepherd’s Pie with Guinness
For the Meat Layer
- 3 tablespoons canola oil or olive oil
- 2 pounds ground beef lean
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt to season meat
- ¼ teaspoon pepper to season meat
- 1 large onion
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 cup beef broth
- 2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
- 1 cup Guinness stout
- 1 tablespoon bittersweet chocolate chips
- 1 tablespoon brown Sugar
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- ½ teaspoon dried sage
- ½ teaspoon dried marjoram
- 12 ounces peas and carrots frozen
For the Mashed Potato Topping
- 3 pounds russet potatoes
- 2 ounces butter
- ⅓ cup low-fat sour cream
- 1 cup white cheddar cheese grated
For the Gravy
- 1.5 ounces brown gravy mix 2 x 0.75 ounce packets
- 1½ cups water
- 3 fluid ounces Guinness stout
- 1 teaspoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon brown Sugar
To Make the Potato Mash:
- 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.
- 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. Do not make the mashed potatoes too thin.
To Make the Meat Base:
- 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.
- Add the last tablespoon of oil to the pan and brown the onions and garlic in the skillet.
- 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.
- Add the thyme, parsley, sage and marjoram. Stir to disperse them throughout the beef broth.
- 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.
Assembling the Pie
- 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.
Cooking the Pie in the Oven
- Place the shepherd’s pie in an oven pre-heated to 350 degrees F. Cook for 15 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and add 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.
Making the Guinness Gravy
- 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.
- Using a metal serving spatula, divide the shepherd's pie into 8 rectangular servings. Serve with Guinness gravy poured over top, if desired.
Nutrition Information is estimated based on the ingredients and cooking instructions as described in each recipe and is intended to be used for informational purposes only. Please note that nutrition details may vary based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients used.
This dish is a favorite in America, but you may be interested in learning what the Irish eat for Saint Patrick’s Day.
Thanks for following my recipes and ramblings.
Slán agus beannacht,
(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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