Guinness Shepherd's Pie is richly flavored and loaded with ground meat, peas, carrots, onions, and corn under a decadent layer of cheddar mashed potatoes.
Shepherd's pie is the O.G. of casseroles - a hearty family meal served with your entree, side dish, and vegetable loaded in each flavorful forkful. However, you don't have to be Irish, nor does it need to be St. Patrick's Day to enjoy this modern twist on a classic, you just need good taste!
What is it?
Traditionally, shepherd's pie is a popular Irish meal featuring ground lamb and chopped vegetables in a flavorful sauce baked with mashed potatoes loaded on top. This dish features simple ingredients that were easily accessible to the poor. The exact year of creation is not known, but it is said to be around 1800. My Guinness shepherd's pie recipe takes the flavor a step further by simmering beer in the meat mixture.
Shepherd's pie is often referred to as cottage pie because they are essentially the same dishes. The only difference is shepherd's pie refers to the dish being made with lamb meat, cottage pie refers to the dish being made with beef. My easy shepherd's pie recipe can be successfully made with either lamb or beef.
I was inspired to create a Guinness cottage pie recipe after testing my Guinness Beef Stew recipe. I have always been a fan of this hearty meal and felt the addition of Guinness beer really added a lot of flavor to the gravy.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Lean ground beef - Ground lamb is equally good to use.
- Ground Black Pepper
- Yellow Onion - A sweet onion is great to substitute.
- Carrots - Fresh or frozen will work well.
- Garlic cloves - ⅓ teaspoon of Garlic powder can be substituted.
- Tomato Paste - ¼ cup of tomato sauce can be substituted.
- All-purpose Flour
- Guinness Stout - If you don't have Guinness beer on hand, any stout beer will work well.
- Beef Broth - Beef stock is a great substitute. Alternatively, my recipe calls for 1 cup of Guinness beer and 1 cup of beef broth, but if you really want a pronounced Guinness flavor you can add an entire can of beer (1 can equals 1 ½ cups) and reduce the beef broth to ½ cup instead.
- Worcestershire sauce
- Fresh thyme leaves - Dried thyme can be substituted, but the flavor will not be as vibrant.
- Peas - Fresh or frozen peas are best, canned can be substituted but it will have a mushier texture.
- Sweet corn kernels - Fresh, canned, or frozen can be used.
- Russet potatoes - I highly recommend using starchy potatoes like Russets over waxy potatoes like reds or Yukon golds. Starchy potatoes are needed to make the fluffiest mashed potatoes.
- Shredded sharp Cheddar cheese - Mild cheddar (or medium) can be substituted, but sharp Cheddar has the strongest flavor, which is what we want.
How to make it
To make this Guinness Shepherd's Pie recipe, begin by preheating your oven to 400 degrees. While the oven preheats, place your ground beef or lamb in a 12" skillet and cook over medium-high heat until the ground meat is well browned. Then remove the ground meat from the skillet with a slotted spoon and set aside, leaving any beef drippings in the pan.
Add your onions and carrots to your skillet and set the burner to medium heat. Saute the vegetables until the carrots and onion are tender, then add your minced garlic and cook an additional two minutes. The ground beef can be placed back in the skillet with the vegetables at this time along with the tomato paste and flour. Stir well with a wooden spoon to combine everything.
Next, deglaze the bottom of the skillet by pouring in the beer. Stir to combine and scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen any burnt-on browned bits so they are able to incorporate into the mixture. Then add your Worcestershire sauce, beef broth, thyme, peas, and corn. Simmer the beef filling for 10-15 minutes, or until the mixture thickens to a gravy consistency.
While making the meat filling, prepare your mashed potatoes at the same time. Place peeled and cubed potatoes in a large pot of boiling salted water and simmer potatoes for 15 minutes, or until fork tender.
Once tender, drain your potatoes from the water and add the milk, butter, ¼ cup of shredded cheese, and add salt and black pepper to taste. Mash potatoes with a potato masher to break apart any chunks. Then spread the potato mixture over the meat and vegetable mixture in the skillet (or use a casserole dish). Top with an additional ¼ cup of shredded cheese and bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
Storing & Reheating Leftovers
Shepherd's Pie makes delicious leftovers to enjoy throughout the week. The flavor actually improves some when made in advance because the saucy meat and vegetable mixture flavors continue to meld together. Leftovers should be placed in an airtight container and eaten within one week.
The easiest way to reheat leftover shepherd's pie is by microwaving it. In particular, I recommend reheating individual servings separately to reheat them more evenly. The amount of time needed will vary depending on your serving size, but I typically reheat for one minute, and then in thirty-second intervals as needed, until heated through.
Guinness Shepherd's Pie
Meat & Vegetable Filling
- 1 ½ pounds ground beef (or lamb)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1 large yellow onion (chopped)
- 1 cup chopped carrots
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup Guinness beer
- 1 cup beef broth
- 2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- ½ cup peas
- ½ cup corn
- 1 ½ pounds Russet potatoes
- ¼ cup milk
- 2 ounces butter
- kosher salt (to taste)
- ground black pepper (to taste)
- ½ cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (divided)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Add ground beef, salt, and black pepper to a large, 12" skillet, and cook over medium-high heat until nicely browned. Then remove beef from the skillet and set aside.
- Place onion and carrots in the beef drippings (adding butter or olive oil if needed) and saute over medium heat until onion and carrots are tender. Add minced garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
- Return beef to the skillet, add tomato paste and stir to incorporate, then sprinkle in flours and stir further.
- Pour beer into the beef mixture and scrape the bottom of the skillet to loosen any burnt on bits of food. Add all remaining ingredients to the skillet at this time and let simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until liquid has reduced into a gravy.
- Evenly spread mashed potatoes over the shepherd's pie mixture, top with ¼ cup of cheese, and place in the oven for 20 minutes, or until potatoes begin to brown.
- Peel potatoes and cut into 1" cubes. Place in salted boiling water and simmer for 15 minutes, or until completely tender.
- Drain potatoes from water and combine with milk, butter, and ¼ cup of cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste and mash to break apart any chunks.
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This recipe was originally published on FoxValleyFoodie.com on February 6, 2019.
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