Beer Braised Shepherd’s Pie

Mushrooms and ale give this pie a really deep flavour. The ale lends a slightly bitter edge, mellowed by cooking and the sharp cheddar cheese. The end result is deeply comforting and about as British as it gets.

Serves 6


Olive oil

Salt and pepper

1 ½ cups finely diced onion

1 cup finely diced carrot

2 stalks celery, finely diced

500g mince beef

200g chestnut mushrooms, chopped

1 tbsp tomato paste

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

2 tbsp flour

500ml ale (I used London Pride, but any ale will do)

1 cup frozen peas

1kg potatoes, peeled and halved

1 tbsp butter

Splash of milk

100g grated aged cheddar cheese


Heat a pot over medium heat. Add 1 tbsp olive oil and cook the onion, carrot and celery for 10 – 12 minutes, stirring often, until soft. Add the beef and a generous pinch of salt and pepper and cook until no longer pink. Add the mushrooms and cook down for another 10 minutes, stirring often. Add the tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce, stirring to combine. Sprinkle in the flour and give everything a good stir. Add the beer and bring to a simmer. Cook over a low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until you have a thick, rich sauce. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper as needed. Add the frozen peas and turn the heat off. Transfer the filling to a baking dish and set aside.

For the mashed potato topping, place the peeled, halved potatoes in a pot and cover with cold water. Salt the water generously. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are very soft. Mash the potatoes (I use a potato ricer) and add the butter, a splash of milk, salt, pepper and the grated cheddar, reserving a little bit of cheese for the top. Taste the mash for seasoning and adjust if necessary. You can add a little more milk if the potatoes are too thick, but bear in mind you want these thicker than your average mashed potatoes so they hold their shape in the end. Dollop the mashed potato all over the filling and spread out to cover. You can either run the tines of a fork up and down the pie to create a textured top, or simply use the back of a spoon to create little waves and crests – whatever you’re in the mood for. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.

Place the baking dish on a foil-lined baking tray and bake at 200C / 400F for 35 – 40 minutes, or until golden and bubbly. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

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