Happy St. Patrick's Day! Though I've probably already had my fill of Irish eats this week, this classic dish is one of my favorite forms of comfort food, regardless of the time of year.
A simple meat pie, topped with mashed potatoes, most people would actually call this dish a "shepherd's pie", though the correct term is actually "cottage pie". A shepherd's pie must contain lamb, whereas a cottage pie just contains "meat". This version uses Guinness for a richer, heartier flavor (and extra Irish points). I actually do NOT like Guinness as a drink, but I love the flavor it imparts when I cook with it. Luckily, there are several stores here where I can just buy individual bottles instead of an entire sixer.
Most of the ingredients are probably basic items that you've already got in the pantry, fridge or freezer. This recipe isn't the easiest (but it's in no way hard), but it IS delicious, straightforward, and well worth the effort.
Guinness Cottage Pie
adapted from The Hungry Housewife
3 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, diced into 1" pieces
1/4 - 1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
1 1/2 lbs ground beef (I prefer 80/20)
1 lb bag frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
2 packets dry brown gravy mix
1 medium onion, diced
2 bottles Guinness beer
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 cups sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil; salt the water and add the potatoes. Cook until tender, then drain. Transfer to a bowl, add milk and butter, and mash until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Please don't try to substitute instant mashed potatoes made from flakes - homemade mashed potatoes are incredible easy and taste LOADS better.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute the onions in olive oil for 5 minutes or until soft and translucent. Add the (thawed) frozen mixed vegetables and cook until warmed through. Remove from heat and set aside.
In the same skillet, brown the ground beef. Drain the fat and add 1 bottle of Guinness and cook until nearly completely reduced. Stir in the tomato paste.
In a medium saucepan, prepare the gravy mix according to the package directions, substituting 1/2 of the liquid called for with Guinness instead of water. Add the gravy to the meat mixture and cook until thickened.
Layer the onion and mixed vegetables in a 3-quart baking dish; top with the meat mixture. Cover with the mashed potatoes, then top with the shredded cheese.
Bake in a 375-degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly. Let rest 5-10 minutes before serving.