Shepherd’s Pie is one of those often overlooked dinner recipes – especially when entertaining. It seems kind of basic in comparison to other impressive main dishes like beautifully plated roasts and chops. Not to mention, it’s a nightmare if you’re one of those, “my food can’t touch each other” types. This recipe for Guinness Shepard’s Pie, however, is anything but basic. It’s complex, savory, and looks super sophisticated when served in individual au gratin dishes. So try something different for St. Patrick’s Day this year and spoil a few of your closest friends.
Cooking with Guinness
Cooking or braising meat with beer is nothing new, and there’s a whole list of reasons for why adding beer is a no-brainer. In fact, we wrote an entire post about it over here. But, the gist is simple – beer makes things better. What I mean to say is beer makes things taste better, but enough of it on it’s own has it’s benefits also.
Thick is Good
So, let me be real for a second. I totally f***ed this recipe up the first time I made it. That’s not to say it’s a difficult recipe. It’s actually quite the opposite. But a mild hangover and less-than-perfect sleep conspired to make me a tad bit spacier than normal and I forgot to add the flour.
To make matters worse, I started serving the damn thing only to realize that I also forgot the peas. Honestly their absence was more forgivable than the flour, but just barely.
In case you were wondering, flour is a super important ingredient unless you want soup instead of stew. It’s especially important if you don’t want the stew to boil out of your potato layer, burn on the bottom of your oven and set off the smoke detector. Seriously though, not one of my best cooking days.
The Ongoing Celery DEBATE
I’m adding this in because I feel like I’m getting the last word in an ongoing disagreement between Liz and me. She hates celery. I don’t love celery on it’s own, but I think it’s a good ingredient. I was honestly surprised that this recipe didn’t call for celery. It basically has you make a mirepoix, the holy trinity of recipe bases made of onions, celery and carrots, but without celery.
In her defense, this recipe doesn’t call for celery, but I would add a cup of celery. For me personally, it just seems sacrilegious without it. For all you Irish Catholics out there, it’s like having the father and the son, but no holy spirit. Weird, right?
No matter what you decide about the celery, this recipe for Sheperd’s Pie is a keeper. Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!
1–1/2 pounds russet potatoes
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup half & half milk
2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 cup of chopped carrots
5 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1–1/2 pounds ground beef
2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ cup tomato paste
1/2 cup Guinness Irish Beer
1/2 cup beef broth
3 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup frozen peas
INSTRUCTIONS FOR MASHED POTATOES
Wash and peel the potatoes. Cut them in fourths. Place them in a medium pot and cover with cold water. Boil over medium-high heat until fork tender. (Note: While the potatoes are boiling, prepare the meat filling.) Remove potatoes from the boiling water with a slotted spoon. Transfer them to the bowl of a stand mixer.
Immediately add melted butter and mash very briefly on low speed. Gradually pour in half & half while the mixer is still on. Process briefly. Do not over-mix the potatoes or they will have a gummy texture. Stop the mixer and add salt, pepper and cheese. Mix until just incorporated.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR MEAT FILLING
Adjust oven rack to the center position. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Once the oil flickers in the pan, add the onion and carrots. Sauté until onions are golden brown and carrots begin to soften.Add garlic and continue to sauté for 1 minute. Add ground beef, salt and pepper. Cook until beef is completely brown with no more pink.
IMPORTANT STEP: drain excess oil and liquid from beef mixture. Sprinkle flour on the meat and fold it into the mixture.
Add in the tomato paste, Guinness beer, beef broth, Worcestershire, rosemary, and thyme. Stir to combine. Bring meat filling to a brief boil, then reduce the heat to low. Do not cover. Let the mixture simmer for about 20 minutes or until the sauce is lightly thickened and cooked down.
ASSEMBLING THE PIE
Fold the frozen peas into the meat mixture until combined.
Transfer meat filling to an 8 X 8-inch baking dish. Use a spatula to spread the mixture evenly over the bottom. With a clean spatula, spread the mashed potatoes over the top of the meat mixture. Around the edges of the dish, make sure the potatoes form a nice seal to prevent overflowing while baking.
Put the baking dish on a baking tray lined with parchment paper to catch any overflow. Put the Shepherd’s Pie in the middle of the oven to ensure good heat circulation. Bake for 25 minutes.
Just before removing, turn the oven to broil. Broil the dish for 1 minute to brown the top of potatoes.
Remove the Guinness Shepherds Pie from the oven. Transfer to a trivet and allow it to sit for 15-20 minutes before serving. If desired, garnish with a fresh herb sprig.