Irish Shepherd's Pie- Reality Version

Irish Shepherd's Pie- Reality Version

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Loey Krause


Recipes are wonderful, but what actually happens in my kitchen may bear only a vague resemblance to the original. This is what really happens when I make Shepherds Pie.

Easy, family type. This is a smallish quantity, makes enough for 2-3 meals for 2 people who aren’t big eaters. For a family or company I’d use 1 ½-2 pounds beef and scale everything up accordingly, in which case you’d certainly need 2 bottles of Guinness.

Amounts of all ingredients are approximate and to taste.


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5 Min
30 Min


  • 4-5
    russet potatoes (or more depending on size of potatoes)
  • 1
    medium onion (optional)
  • 1 tsp
  • 1/2 c
    milk, half and half, cream cheese, sour cream or ricotta cheese
  • 3 Tbsp
  • 1 lb
    lean ground beef
  • 1 pkg
    dry beefy onion soup mix or 1 medium onion and a boullion cube
  • 1 pkg
    frozen mixed vegies, either regular mixed or "for soup" style, or any combination of partial packages frozen vegies you have in the freezer. use the same amount of vegies as you use meat. .
  • 1-2 bottle
  • 2-3 Tbsp
  • 2-3 Tbsp

How to Make Irish Shepherd's Pie- Reality Version


  1. Peel and quarter potatoes, boil in water until tender.
    You can cut up (peel and quarter) another onion and cook it and mash it with the potatoes if you like.
    Drain water
    Add butter, salt and milk (or half and half, cream cheese, sour cream or ricotta)
    Warm to melt butter.
    Mash potatoes and set aside. Check taste, add salt if needed.
  2. While potatoes are cooking:
    If using a fresh onion, sauté onion first in a large skillet.
    Add ground beef to the skillet and brown, breaking up into smallish lumps while browning.
    If using the dry soup mix, add it now, and mix in thoroughly. If you sautéed a fresh onion, add a buillion cube and break it up, mixing it in thoroughly.
  3. Add Guinness, at least half the bottle, enough to just about cover the meat and onion. Don’t drink the rest yet in case you need to add a little more.
    Stir and simmer the meat until the liquid cooks down a bit and the alcohol smell is gone.
  4. Add the vegetables (you can choose to bring the vegetables to a boil first in a separate pot of water, drain and then add to meat mixture if you want to dirty another pot.)
    Add more Guinness if you need more liquid to cook the vegetables, or if you like a bit of broth in the dish.
  5. Turn the oven on to about 400 degrees to preheat.
  6. Simmer, stirring now and then, until vegies are cooked and all is mixed well.
    While it is simmering, put equal amounts butter and flour in a small bowl. Mash together thoroughly with a fork until you have a smooth texture. It will be quite stiff and thick.
    When the meat and vegie mixture is cooked, add about a third of the butter/flour mixture to the center of the meat mixture and stir in completely, watching the texture of the broth. Add another third and stir in thoroughly. You will probably need to use all of the butter/flour mixture, but maybe not. You want the broth to begin to thicken, but not get too thick. How much you need to use will depend on how much liquid you have. Check taste (of the meat mixture, you already checked the Guinness) add salt if needed.
  7. At this point it’s ok to drink any Guinness that you have left. Oh, had I said two bottles? You probably only needed one for the recipe.
  8. Pour the meat mixture into a rectangular (ok, square or oval is ok too, but it needs to be relatively shallow, rather than deep. You want surface area for potatoes) casserole dish. Pat in so the surface is level. Add potatoes on top. You can either spread out the potatoes, or leave them in dollops, as you prefer. Note that any points sticking up are probably the only parts that will pick up brown color, and that’s pretty. You can play with designs in the potatoes if you have already finished the Guinness.
  9. Put the dish in the oven. The goal is to bake the potatoes a bit for texture and some browning on top. NOTE: yes, it would be lovely to put it under the broiler to get a nice brown crispy top on the potatoes, but Pyrex casserole dishes are not broiler or stove top safe, so use a high temp oven that will work without risking your dish.

    It should only take about 5-10 minutes, depending on your oven.
    Remove from oven, set on cooling rack and let sit to cool just a little before serving. Is there another Guinness in the frig?

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About Irish Shepherd's Pie- Reality Version

Course/Dish: Beef Casseroles
Main Ingredient: Beef
Regional Style: Irish
Other Tags: Quick & Easy For Kids
Hashtag: #comfort-food

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