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Traditional Irish Shepherd’s Pie with Guinness

Traditional Irish Guinness Shepherd’s Pie is purely meat-‘n-potatoes-comfort made with ground lamb, mashed potatoes, and Guinness stout beer. It’s perfect for serving up on St. Patrick’s Day or whenever the winter nights grow long and cold!

With many thanks and great appreciation, this recipe courtesy of our friends at Guinness Open Gate Brewery in Dublin, Ireland!

This recipe is made using ground lamb or lamb mince which represents the traditional preparation of Shepherd’s Pie. AND…stout is added and allowed to reduce down creating a gorgeous gravy and super hearty dish!

There are recipes that specify ground beef or beef mince, but if we are getting technical, the use of beef is really a Cottage Pie, Shep’s close cousin! The lamb meat filling in this Shepherd’s Pie recipe is lush amidst a flavorful sauce, bubbling up in the casserole dish once it’s close to cooked.

This is my one recipe that I rely on when I don’t know what else to make, basically the dish that seems to make everybody happy when it appears on their plate. There is a whole lot of flavor jammed into this stealthy little beef casserole, made better with a golden brown mashed potato crust.

There’s no need to save this only for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. You can enjoy this savory pie whenever the seasons call for something warm and comforting!

Shepherd's Pie half eaten from a white baking dish with Guinness gravy and a spoon

Guinness Shepherd’s Pie Ingredients

for the lamb filling

  • olive oil
  • yellow onions or par-boiled and trimmed whole pearl onions
  • carrot
  • garlic cloves
  • ground lamb
  • tomato paste
  • Guinness beer
  • brown sugar
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • chicken stock or chicken broth
  • fresh thyme leaves
  • fresh rosemary
  • English peas (may use frozen peas)
  • Kosher salt
  • black pepper

for the whipped potatoes

  • garlic cloves
  • butter
  • heavy cream
  • Kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • Yukon Gold potatoes
  • parsley
A white casserole dish with minced lamb and gravy and vegetables  on a table

Kitchen Equipment You’ll Need

Aside from a large baking or casserole dish (9 x 13-inches or if deep, 11 x 7-inches) in which to bake your pie, I also recommend a large, lined baking sheet that the casserole can sit atop during the bake. Catching drips is better than having to clean the oven!

You will also need a large skillet, a large pot for boiling water, a wooden spoon, and a ricer for ricing the potatoes.

How to Make Shepherds Pie with Guinness

Before You Begin

Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly butter or spray a casserole dish on the bottom and sides.

Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Baking the casserole atop a lined tray will help to catch any drips which may bubble-over. Set aside.

Prepare a large pot of water by adding Kosher salt. Also set aside.

Make the Lamb Filling

In a large skillet over medium heat, add some olive oil and heat to shimmering. Toss in your garlic and immediately adjust the heat to avoid burning the garlic. Cook for 4 to 6 minutes.

Chop two medium onions and a large carrot. Alternatively, you may use par-boiled, trimmed whole pearl onions if on hand. Add them to the skillet and cook for 6 to 8 minutes.

Adjust the range to medium-high heat and add some tomato paste, stirring constantly. Reduce heat slightly and cook until the color reaches a deep rusty red, about 8 to 10 minutes. This change in color represents the caramelization of the paste.

Raise the heat to medium-high and add the lamb. Cook until the ground meat is nicely browned, about 10 minutes.

Finish the filling by adding the Guinness and scraping the bottom of the pan of all the browned bits of fond that have accumulated. Next, add brown sugar, chicken stock, Worcestershire, thyme and rosemary, and season liberally with Kosher salt and pepper. Taste to adjust.

Simmer over medium-low heat until the juices in the meat mixture are 90% reduced. The liquid that remains should appear syrupy, enough so that it coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly while you turn attention to the potato mash.

Make the Whipped Potatoes

Wash and peel the potatoes before cutting them into quarters. The chunks should all be relatively the same size.

Add a liberal amount of salt and the potato pieces to cold water and bring everything to a boil. Cook until the potatoes in the boiling water until they are fork tender when tested, anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes.

While the potatoes are boiling, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, sauté some garlic in butter for 5 minutes, again adjusting the temperature to prevent the garlic from burning. Add in cream and turn heat to low until the potatoes are finished cooking.

Once tender, drain the potato water to stop the cooking process. Spread the potatoes in an even layer onto a baking sheet.

Let sit for 5 minutes allowing them to steam out. Once you stop seeing steam, run the potatoes through a ricer.

Using a wooden spoon, gently fold the riced potatoes into the cream mixture. You want to NOT overwork the potatoes. Season to taste with Kosher salt and black pepper.

Assemble the Casserole Dish

Stir the peas into the lamb mixture. In the prepared baking dish, spread the ground lamb evenly on the bottom of the dish. Alternatively, this may be baked in a large oven-safe skillet or cast iron skillet.

Top with potatoes and spread evenly as well. Use the tines of a fork to drag the top of the potatoes making a pattern if desired.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the potatoes have browned on top. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.

a hand topping of a lamb and Guinness stout pie with creamy homemade mashed potatoes

Modifying the Norm to Make It Not Entirely Average

  • I shudder to think there is room to improve Guinness’ easy Shepherd’s Pie recipe, but there is always the perfectly acceptable option of adding a shredded Double Gloucester cheese to the potato mash before topping the casserole dish.
  • I have also seen the use of parmesan cheese scattered atop the potatoes to hasten the browning and add to the deliciousness!
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Traditional Irish Shepherd’s Pie with Guinness

Jenny from Not Entirely Average
Traditional Irish Guinness Shepherd’s Pie is purely meat-'n-potatoes-comfort made with ground lamb, mashed potatoes, and Guinness stout beer.
No ratings yet
Servings: 10 servings
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Irish, Southern
Servings 10 servings
Calories 343 kcal

Equipment

  • large casserole dish
  • large rimmed baking sheet
  • parchment paper or aluminum foil
  • large skillet
  • large pot
  • potato ricer
  • wooden spoon

Ingredients
 

for the lamb filling

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions diced; may also use par-boiled and trimmed whole pearl onions
  • 1 large carrot peeled and diced
  • 5 cloves garlic fresh; minced
  • 1 pound lamb ground
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 125 ml Guinness Original room temperature; poured into a measuring cup 30 minutes in advance of the recipe to decrease the foam
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce more to taste
  • 1 cup chicken stock NOTE: chicken stock is richer more flavorful ingredient but chicken broth may be substituted
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves fresh
  • 2 teaspoons rosemary leaves fresh; minced
  • 1/2 cup English peas fresh or frozen
  • Kosher salt
  • black pepper

for the whipped potatoes

  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup salted butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes washed, peeled and quartered
  • parsley fresh; chopped or finely minced depending on preference

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly butter or spray a casserole dish on the bottom and sides. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Baking the casserole atop a lined tray will help to catch any drips which may bubble-over. Set aside. Prepare a large pot of water by adding Kosher salt. Also set aside.

prepare the lamb filling

  • In a large skillet over medium heat, add oil and heat to shimmering. Add garlic and immediately adjust the heat to avoid burning the garlic. Cook for 6 minutes. Chop two medium onions and a large carrot. Alternatively, you may use par-boiled, trimmed whole pearl onions if on hand. Add them to the skillet and cook for 8 minutes.
  • Adjust the stove top to medium-high heat. Add tomato paste, stirring constantly. Reduce heat slightly and cook until the color reaches a deep reddish brown, about 10 minutes. Raise the heat to medium-high and add the lamb. Cook until the ground meat is nicely browned, about 10 minutes.
  • Add the Guinness and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon of the browned bits. Next, add the brown sugar, chicken stock, Worcestershire, thyme and rosemary, and season liberally with Kosher salt and pepper. Simmer over medium-low heat until the juices in the meat mixture are 90% reduced. The liquid that remains should appear syrupy. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly while you turn attention to the potato mash.

for the whipped potatoes

  • Cook until the potatoes in the boiling water until they are fork tender when tested, anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes. Once tender, drain the potato water to stop the cooking process. Spread the potatoes in an even layer onto a baking sheet. Let sit for 5 minutes allowing them to steam out. Once you stop seeing steam, run the potatoes through a ricer.
  • While the potatoes are boiling, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, sauté some garlic in butter for 5 minutes, again adjusting the temperature to prevent the garlic from burning. Add in cream and turn heat to low until the potatoes are finished cooking. Using a wooden spoon, gently fold the riced potatoes into the cream mixture. You want to NOT overwork the potatoes. Season to taste with Kosher salt and black pepper.

assembly

  • Stir the peas into the lamb mixture. In the prepared baking dish, spread the ground lamb evenly on the bottom of the dish. Alternatively, this may be baked in a large oven-safe skillet or cast iron skillet. Top with potatoes and spread evenly as well. Use the tines of a fork to drag the top of the potatoes making a pattern if desired.
  • Place the casserole atop the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the potatoes have browned on top and the gravy is bubbling from beneath. Remove from the oven, garnish with parsley and serve immediately. The pie will be VERY HOT.

Notes

Please Note that table salt and iodized salt are NOT substitutions for Kosher salt. Do not use table salt or iodized salt in any of the recipes you find on Not Entirely Average UNLESS specified otherwise.
Make Ahead by 24 hours and assemble pie in full being sure to completely cool each part before assembling. Cover with heavy duty aluminum foil and refrigerate. Bake according to the directions in the recipe card. To Freeze the Shepherd’s Pie line the 11 x 7-inch baking dish with 6-inch aluminum foil overhangs on both ends and 4-inch overhangs on both sides. Assemble the pie in full being sure to completely cool each part before assembling. Fold the overhangs in to meet the opposite overhang. Freeze the pie. Once fully frozen, remove from the freezer. Prepare a large freezer-safe zippered bag with the date and the contents noted. Pop the frozen pie out of the baking pan and still wrapped in the foil. Place into the bag, foil and all, and seal. Freeze up to 3 months. To Thaw and Bake remove from the freezer, place into the original 11 x 7-inch baking dish, and place in refrigerator overnight. Pull back foil and bake according to the directions in the recipe card.
Variations:
  • Add a shredded Double Gloucester cheese to the potato mash before topping the casserole dish.
  • Scatter a handful of parmesan cheese atop the potatoes to hasten the browning and add to the deliciousness!

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 343kcalCarbohydrates: 17gProtein: 11gFat: 26gSaturated Fat: 14gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0.4gCholesterol: 72mgSodium: 217mgPotassium: 483mgFiber: 2gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 1805IUVitamin C: 17mgCalcium: 48mgIron: 2mg
Keyword Guinness gravy, lamb, Shepherd’s Pie, stout pie
Tried this recipe?Let me know how it was!
Is there a difference between Shepherd’s Pie and Cottage Pie?

Traditionally, an Irish meat pie is made using ground lamb and is known as shepherd’s pie, whereas the British version of nearly the same dish is made using beef and is called cottage pie.

Should the Guinness be cold when incorporated into the other ingredients?

No. And in fact, due to the propensity of the beer to foam, it should not only be at room temperature, but also be poured from the can or bottle and allowed to stand 30 minutes BEFORE assembling the recipe. Pouring will allow time for the foam to dissipate.

Does it matter which variety of Guinness is used when assembling a Shepherd’s Pie?

Guinness recommends using Guinness Original. It’s what I have used here. As an aside, stouts are known for their bitterness and brown sugar is very often added to stews and meat pies which specify the use of stouts like Guinness to bring balance to the overall flavor of the dish. You will find I specify 1 tablespoon of brown sugar in this dish.

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