Curried Shepherd’s Pie with Guinness and Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes
In college I would make Shepherd’s Pie for St. Patrick’s Day each year. It could be prepared in advance and was the perfect base meal for the rounds of Guinness that would inevitably follow. That tradition has continued, but the recipe changes slightly every year. The one constant? Guinness.
The Shepherd’s Pie recipe that follows is inspired by a quaint, but now shuttered, restaurant on East 6th Street in Austin, Texas. It was a dependable spot with well mixed drinks and food that was just alright. One night, though, the Special was a Shepherd’s Pie made with lamb and garam masala. It was incredible – the spices added complexity and a bit of heat while still maintaining the integrity of each component. I thought about it for days afterwards, but never had the opportunity to go back as they closed shortly after. What unfortunate luck! But that just necessitates recreating the dish at home, which I attempted in 2011 and have been tinkering ever since.
This year’s version may be my favorite thus far. The combination of beef and lamb provides a fuller flavor with just the right amount of fat which is complimented by the earthy spice of garam masala. This year I used Guinness Extra Stout, which is robust beer with notes of molasses. It reduces incredibly well and contributes a slightly more intense beer flavor in the finished dish. But it’s the goat cheese that makes the dish. Its creamy, slightly tangy addition balances the richness of the ground meat and elevates the mashed potatoes to a whole new level of delicious. pillowy topping.
Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 60 minutes
Makes: 6 to 8 Servings
To make the mashed potatoes, peel potatoes and parsnips and cut into roughly 1/2-inch pieces of similar size. Place in a medium saucepan or pot and add enough cold water to cover by one inch. Set over high heat and bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and maintain a simmer until potatoes are fork tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Once done, drain and return the potatoes to the pan. Mash the potatoes to desired consistency then stir in half-and-half, melted butter, 2 ounces goat cheese, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the filling and preheat oven to 400ºF. Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add onions, carrots, and parsnips; cook, stirring occassionally, until vegetables soften, about 8 minutes. Add garlic, ground beef, ground lamb, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper; cook until no longer pink. Stir in thyme, garam masala, and tomato paste. Once the tomato paste turns brick red in color, sprinkle with flour and continue to cook for an additional 2 minutes. Pour in stout, Worcestershire sauce, and cider vinegar; simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until thickened. Taste and add additional seasonings, if needed. Stir in the peas then transfer to a 2-quart casserole dish.
Spread the mashed potatoes evenly over the top of the meat mixture. Sprinkle with remaining 2 ounces crumbled goat cheese and diced butter. Bake on the center rack until golden brown and bubbling, about 30 to 40 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes prior to serving.