This Cottage Pie recipe (made with Guinness) is a real ‘comfort’ type of food, and is just right for the colder months. This particular recipe has a deep savoury quality to it and the Irish stout gives it an almost dark caramelised warmth. If you are after a classic Farmhouse Recipe, or a British Pub styled dish, (taken to the next level in terms of taste and quality) then this just might become a firm family favourite.
What lifts this Cottage Pie recipe above other recipes, where the beef flavours are enhanced, is the adding in of Worcestershire sauce (by Lea & Perrins) and Guinness (an Irish stout). I have cooked many different versions of Cottage Pie over the years but none have ever matched up to this particular recipe and so I have simply stopped trying to find a better one. This cottage pie is best when made for a mid-week evening meal, served with seasonal vegetables, oh, and a glass of red wine to drink.
The Secret To A Great Cottage Pie: any cottage pie you make will be let down if the stock or gravy is too thin and watery. You really need to reduce the stock down – in this recipe we are reducing it down twice, once when adding in the Guinness and once when adding in the stock. Each time we reduce the liquid we are intensifying the flavour, so don’t worry about reducing the stock down to a very thick gravy when you are simmering it, in fact reduce it down even more than you think is necessary when simmering because once off the heat the gravy will loosen as the meat relaxes.
Note: Cottage Pie is made with beef, Shepherd’s Pie is made with lamb. Feel free to replace the lean mince beef with lean mince lamb to alter the dish for variety – if using lamb use a fresh chicken stock instead of the beef stock, while everything else, including the Guinness, is the same.
Cottage Pie With Guinness Recipe
This will make a pie big enough to serve 5 to 6 hearty appetites
- 1kg lean mince beef
- 1.5kg floury potatoes (Maris Piper etc.) peeled and roughly cut
- 330ml (1 bottle) Guinness
- 300ml fresh beef stock
- 3 onions (peeled and finely chopped)
- 3 plum tomatoes (chopped)
- 2 garlic cloves (crushed through a press or chopped very small)
- 3 tbsp tomato puree
- a few thyme sprigs (stripped leaves only)
- 50g butter
- 3 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- olive oil for frying
- 2 tbsp cheddar cheese, finely grated (optional)
Just before frying the lean mince beef season it with the salt and pepper, (always season meat at the last minute). Pour some olive oil into a large heavy based saucepan, put it over a high heat, and fry off the mince beef. It is always best to fry mince beef in two or three smaller batches – the heat of the pan is lost when you add in too much meat all at once, and instead of frying the meat will stew. Fry until browned and once cooked tip into a sieve or colander to drain off the fat as you fry the next batch off.
Add a little more olive oil to the pan and when at a medium heat fry off the chopped onions, chopped garlic and thyme, for around seven minutes, until soft and golden. Then add in the chopped plum tomatoes and tomato puree, fry for a minute, stirring, and then add back in the drained and browned minced beef. At this stage stir constantly for five minutes on a medium heat.
After five minutes add in the Guinness and Worcestershire sauce, stir them in and bring it up to the boil, now simmer at this heat until the liquid has reduced by half. Once reduced pour in the fresh beef stock and bring the pan back up to the boil, stirring all the time. Once at the boil simmer the stock just under the boil for twenty minutes.
The Cottage Pie gravy should now thicken considerably and become glossy – reduce the liquid until it no longer seems thin but gives the meat a thick coating, stir regularly and watch it does not catch or burn if reduced too much. If after twenty minutes the mixture has not thickened enough simmer for a further five to ten minutes. Once at the right consistency turn off the heat and leave.
Preheat the oven 180C
As the Cottage Pie mixture is simmering in the saucepan – bring another large saucepan, of salted water, to the boil and cook the peeled and roughly chopped potatoes until tender, (about fifteen minutes). Drain the potatoes into a colander, make sure the saucepan is empty of water, and put the drained potatoes back into the saucepan for the residual heat to dry them out. After about a minute the potatoes are ready for mashing.
Using a potato masher or potato ricer mash the potatoes until smooth. Mix in the butter, egg yolk and cheese (if adding cheese). Mix and stir everything in so that there are no clumps, and you have produced a wonderfully smooth and creamy mash. Taste and add in some salt and pepper to season.
Into a 2 or 3 litre pie dish, casserole dish, or other large oven proof pot, spoon the Cottage Pie Beef and Guinness mix in. Then carefully spoon the mash potato over the top, and rough the surface with a fork, so that the rough edges will catch in the oven and brown. Grate over extra cheese (if using) and then bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until bubbling and golden brown. Place the casserole dish on an oven tray, so if any gravy bubbles out (which can be expected in the best Cottage Pies) it will catch any drips.
Once it has a golden top pull the ‘Cottage Pie With Guinness’ out of the oven and let it rest for twenty minutes, resting the pie will help the meat relax and the flavours mellow a little. Serve with seasonal vegetables – what goes really well with this Cottage Pie are some local baby carrots boiled, then lightly tossed in butter.