It’s not always sweet here in the Faust Bakes kitchen, and what better recipe to be the first savory dish on the blog than a Guinness cottage pie?
Now, the reason I put cottage pie in quotes in the title of this post is because, as I learned while researching this recipe, this is only technically a cottage pie, but in no way traditional.
I first started doing research on this recipe forever ago when I tried the dish at a local pub imported straight from Ireland–The Irish Rover. It’s become a staple in Louisville, and it’s food and atmosphere have an amazingly comforting feel. Unfortunately, their cottage pie isn’t available every time my cravings come a-calling (they have to close sometime, I guess). I needed to have this recipe in my life!
I started searching on the internet for a cottage pie recipe and was surprised to learn that it’s simply another name for shepherd’s pie. The only reason I find this surprising is the dish I had grown to love at The Irish Rover was nothing like shepherd’s pie.
Shepherd’s pie typically consists of minced meat and a medley of vegetables (peas, carrots, corn, etc.). This is still technically a shepherd’s pie, though, because the actual definition is simply a meat pie with a crust of mashed potatoes. I will continue to call it a cottage pie, though, because this has turned into an all-squares-are-rectangles-but-not-all-rectangles-are-squares-type problem.
I took several bits and pieces from recipes ranging from traditional beef stew to traditional shepherd’s pie, trying to crack that secret recipe at The Irish Rover. I’ve gotten pretty darn close, so I figured it might be time to share what I’ve learned.
This hearty and filling dish is perfect for a St. Patrick’s Day feast, or a simple dinner on a chilly night. Chunks of steaming beef and the warmed grain smell from the Guinness does wonders for your comfort levels.
And that sourdough bread bowl! It really adds something to the flavor profile, and I would more than highly recommend it. I get mine from Panera Bread, but they are made at several bakeries. On extra chilly days, I throw some shredded cheddar cheese on top. Boy, does that warm the soul.
2 pounds stewing beef
3 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons flour
salt and pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon water
1 1/4 cups Guinness Draught
2 cups beef stock
3 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
4-5 medium sized Yukon gold potatoes, washed but not peeled and roughly chopped.
1/4 tablespoon fresh thyme
5-6 large russet potatoes
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
Trim the meat of any fat and cut into 2-inch cubes. Toss the beef with 1 tablespoon of oil to fully coat. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Toss the oiled meat in the seasoned flour.
In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over high heat. Brown the meat on all sides and reduce the heat. Add the onions and allow to just slightly brown. Add garlic, tomato paste and water to Dutch oven and mix slightly. Cover and allow mixture to cook on low heat for 5 minutes.
If cooking in a skillet, transfer mixture to a casserole or other oven-safe dish. Pour about half of the Guinness into the now empty skillet and allow to boil. This step helps to gather all the flavor from the juices that might be left behind in the skillet from the transfer.
If cooking in a Dutch oven, add about 1/4 of the Guinness to the mixture and allow to bring to a boil.
Once the Guinness has been warmed and added to the rest of the mixture, add the remaining Guinness and the beef stock to the stew. Add carrots, potatoes and thyme.
Transfer the Dutch oven or casserole dish to the middle rack of the oven and let it stew for about 2-3 hours, or until the meat and potatoes are tender.
With about an hour left of your stew’s cook time, bring a medium-sized pot of salted water to a boil. Wash, peel and roughly cut russet potatoes into even chunks.
When the water is boiling, add russet potato chunks and let boil for about 10 minutes, or until the potatoes just give way when being pierced with a fork. Strain water and return potatoes to pot. Add milk and butter, then blend on medium speed until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Whip on high for 2 minutes for a light and fluffy texture.
For a silkier texture, add a bit more milk. For a smoother texture (or more flavor), add a bit more butter.
Now please excuse me while I go have seconds.