A comfort food like no other, this recipe for Shepherd’s Pie with Guinness, Bacon, & Beef Filling is topped with creamy Sage & Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes. Perfect for the remaining chilly nights as winter turns into spring!
St. Patrick’s Day is the end of this week, and with it my internet feeds are full of shamrocks, Lucky Charm-based desserts, and of course, shepherd’s pie. I know it’s cliché, but I had to share this version of the dish as my contribution to the holiday hype. This recipe came together much more quickly than most of my posts, with just the spark of an idea as I went to sleep one night. I’m just so excited by it! I couldn’t wait to make the dish that had appeared in my head.
Why do I love it so much? The flavors are classic, with a few extra elevating touches; it takes some time in the kitchen, but the techniques are quite easy to master; and finally, it’s a crowd-pleaser that reheats and travels well, so it’s perfect for potlucks and lunch leftovers.
A delicious shepherd’s pie is just so homey and comforting. A rich and hearty filling, bright and tasty vegetables, and a pile of creamy mashed potatoes – few things can compare. It’s the kind of food that sticks to your bones, as they say. Shepherd’s pie always fills me up and warms my heart, leaving me happy, content, and probably a little sleepier than I should be.
While technically a cottage pie (made with ground beef rather than lamb), the components of the recipe are relatively simple. What sets this shepherd’s pie apart from others I’ve seen is three-fold: 1) the sage-infused brown butter in the potato mash; 2) a healthy amount of fresh vegetables (including a ton of mushrooms); and 3) the dark stout (preferably Guinness).
Needless to say, I had a terribly difficult time not eating the whole bowl of potatoes while the filling was cooking, and an even harder time not to sneaking a spoonful every time I walked past the fridge after it was photographed.
As an added bonus, this nourishing meal is perfect for soaking up any alcohol you might over-indulge in this weekend.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day from Feast In Thyme – I wish you much luck this Friday. Enjoy!
Sage & Brown Butter Mashed Potato Shepherd’s Pie with Guinness, Bacon, & Beef Filling
You can use dried herbs in place of fresh if you prefer – Just halve the listed amount.
Sage & Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes
- 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
- 6 large sage leaves, whole
- 2 lb Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 cup Gruyere swiss cheese, grated
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
Beef & Bacon Filling
- 6 oz bacon (about 6 slices)
- 1 lb ground beef (substitute ground lamb if you like)
- 1/2 cup carrots, diced (about 2 carrots)
- 1/2 cup celery, diced (about 2 stalks)
- 1 cup peas, frozen
- 8 oz mushrooms, diced
- 1/2 cup dark beer, preferably Guinness
- 2 tsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, removed from stems
- 1 tsp fresh rosemary leaves, removed from stems and chopped
- 1 1/2 tsp salt, divided
- 1 tsp black pepper
Preheat the oven to 375°F and prepare a 1.5- to 2-quart oven-proof baking dish, greasing the interior with 1 tablespoon of butter.
Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a small sauce pan over medium-low heat (you should still have 1 tablespoon of butter remaining). Once the butter is completely melted and just begins to foam with frothy bubbles, add the sage leaves. Allow the butter to brown and the sage leaves to become crispy, but do not let it burn or smoke. You’ll know the butter is ready when the white foam completely dissipates and it takes on a translucent caramel color. Remove the pan from heat, and gently transfer the crispy sage leaves with a slotted spoon to a small bowl or plate for later.
As the butter is melting, cover the chunks of potato with cold water in a large pot, and bring the water to boil over medium-high heat. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the pieces are easily pierced by a fork. Drain the potatoes and allow to cool slightly. Once cool enough to handle, you can either mash the potatoes by hand, or use the paddle attachment of your stand mixer. Once the potatoes are just mashed and no large pieces remain, add the heavy cream, brown butter, both cheeses, and ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Mix until smooth. Be careful not to over-mix the potatoes. They can become gummy if handled too much.
Pan-fry the bacon until the fat is rendered and crispy. Set the cooked bacon on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the excess grease. Drain the fat, reserving 2 tablespoons in the skillet.
Add the carrots, celery, mushrooms, and ½ teaspoon salt to the bacon fat, and sauté over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Add the ground beef, breaking it up and mixing it with the vegetables. Cook until browned (8-10 minutes). Drain the excess liquid from the pan, and return to heat.
Add the peas, tomato paste, fresh herbs, beer, and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Allow the liquid to reduce, stirring occasionally (10-15 minutes). You want to cook the filling until there is very little liquid visible in the pan. Now is a great time to enjoy what remains of your bottle of beer, if you haven’t already. Once the majority of the liquid has evaporated and soaked into the filing, break up the bacon into small pieces, and add it back to the skillet. Taste, and add more salt and pepper if necessary.
Transfer the filling to the prepared baking dish. Cover the filling with a thick layer of mashed potatoes, smoothing with a spatula. Break up the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and scatter it across the top of the mashed potatoes, pressing it in slightly with your finger to form little indents. Top with the crispy sage leaves. Bake for 30 minutes, until the peaks of the potatoes have browned slightly and the potatoes have taken on a nice golden color. Serve in heaping bowls and be happy.