Irish Shepherd’s Pie


Today is March 17th. In honour of St Patrick’s Day, I made a savoury vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie with Guinness Beer brewed in Dublin. As soon as the beer was added, it magically turned into an Irish Shepherd’s Pie 🙂. It will be part of our evening meal tonight.

Please note that Guinness is still working on going vegan. So, if you want to make the pie vegan, you can substitute Guinness with vegan-friendly beer options that are available in stores. See here and here.

Because this Shepherd’s Pie recipe is suitable for vegetarians and vegans, it is (obviously) made without meat. If you eat meat but would like to cut back on your meat consumption, you can substitute a portion of the lentils and white beans with lean ground meat. I’ve done this in the past for my husband John and other meat eaters and it was also delicious. Cutting back on your meat intake can reduce your risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes and cancer.

Bon appétit!

Taitneamh a bhaint as do chuid béile! (Enjoy your meal in Irish)

Please note that one month after I wrote this post, in April 2017, Guinness beer announced that it became vegan-friendly with the phaseout of insinglass, a product made from fish bladder that was used in the brewing process. 

Irish Shepherd’s Pie

Preheat oven 350°F (180°C)

Serves: 8-10

Ingredients and procedure

1. Mix and toss the following in a medium-size bowl and set aside:

  • 1 cup of dry green puy lentils (simmered in 3 cups of water with cover on for 30 minutes and drained)
  • 1 15-ounce jar white beans, drained and rinsed (take out 3 tablespoons, see below)
  • 2-3 garlic buds, pressed
  • One handful fresh parsley leaves, chopped fine
  • 2 tablespoons (tbsp) green chives, chopped fine
  • 1 teaspoon (tsp) dried thyme

2. In a small shallow bowl:

  • Mash 3 tbsps of the white beans from above using a fork and set aside.

3. In a large, deep and oven-proof pan heated with a little olive oil, sauté on medium heat for 10 minutes until soft (add a little water if it sticks) the following:

  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 1 cup white cabbage, finely sliced
  • 1 big leek, chopped fine
  • 1 red or green chili pepper, chopped fine
  • 1 cup brown mushrooms (any kind), chopped

4. In the same pan with cover off, add to the sautéed mixture and simmer for 5 minutes the following:

  • Lentil/ white bean mixture
  • 2 cups dark beer ( vegan-friendly beer is available)
  • 3 tbsps mashed white beans
  • ½ cup grated hard cheese, like Gruyère -or- smoked tofu for vegan
  • 2 tbsps tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp potato starch
  • Sea salt, ground pepper, to taste

5. Take off heat and pat down the mixture evenly in pan. Put cover on and set this aside.

6. For creamy potatoes, I prefer to make these last. In a big pot, bring salted water to the boil and add:

  • 1.5 pounds (700 grams) potatoes (Yukon gold or Russet or a mix of both) peeled or partially peeled and chopped into bite-size chunks. Simmer with cover on for 10-12 minutes or until fork tender. Don’t overcook them. Drain water completely and return the pot with the drained potatoes back on the heated stove top for a few minutes. Gently turn and toss the potatoes until all the water has evaporated.

7. Transfer potatoes to a bowl and hand mash with potato masher (whipping with electric beaters will make them gooey). Then add and work in with the masher the following ingredients until smooth and fluffy:

  • 4-6 tbsp olive oil or softened vegan butter
  • 1/4 to 1/2 nut milk or cream at room temperature (can add a bit more if you prefer very moist – note that they will dry out while baking)
  • Sea salt, ground pepper and a pinch of nutmeg, to taste

Spread the mashed potatoes evenly on top of the lentil/bean mixture and brush with olive oil.

Bake with lid on in the preheated oven on lower rack for 25 minutes.

Raise oven temperature to 230°C (450°F).

Take cover off and on higher rack broil for another 5 minutes until juice bubbles along the sides of the dish.

Allow to cool before serving (it thickens while it cools).

I like to make this recipe in advance and chill it covered in the the fridge for a good 4 hours or more before serving. In my opinion, it is much better and it holds better the next day. It reheats well in the oven or microwave. It also freezes well in a covered container.

Julie Zimmer

Julie has extensive experience in nursing practice and education in a wide range of fields from intensive/coronary care, to medical-surgical to community and public health. Julie has Bachelor Degrees in Psychology and Nursing, and a Master’s Degree in Community Health Nursing Education. She has taught in faculties of nursing and in various communities in Toronto, Canada and in Geneva, Switzerland, and is a consultant to the International Council of Nurses (ICN). Julie also has years of experience teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) in addition to coordinating an English department in a Swiss private school.

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