The Irish pub that everyone at UC Davis loves, de Vere’s, serves the best shepherd’s pie. The meat filling is smothered in a dark, rich gravy that is absolutely divine. A fluffy, light blanket of mashed potatoes covers the filling, and the whole shebang is baked in the oven until the potatoes are light brown and toasty.
I have been trying to replicate this dish for the past two years and every time I make it, I get a little closer. I just couldn’t figure out what made de Vere’s gravy so rich. Finally, last weekend, I solved the mystery to the incredibly delicious gravy.
The answer was beer – beer made the gravy decadent and added the extra depth of flavor I had been searching for! I was so excited the recipe was ready for the blog – I’ve made it twice in the last week. I hope you all enjoy this not-so-photogenic beauty!
- 1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 4 celery hearts, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1½ lbs ground beef (93% lean)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1½ cups beef broth
- ½ cup stout beer (e.g. Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout)
- ⅓ cup frozen peas
- 1½ lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- ¼ cup milk
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 ounces unsalted butter, softened
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- In a large saute pan, heat up the oil over medium-high heat. Cook the onions, carrots, and celery until soft, stirring often, about 6-8 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for another minute.
- Add the ground beef, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon ground black pepper, worcestershire sauce, and tomato paste to the pan and use a spoon or spatula to break the meat up into small pieces. Stir and cook until brown, about 4 minutes. Add the flour and stir to coat the meat.
- Pour in the beef broth and beer. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and allow the sauce to thicken for about 10 minutes. Stir in the peas, then set aside.
- Fill a 5-quart pot halfway with water. Bring to a boil, then add the potatoes. Boil for 13-15 minutes, uncovered, until the potatoes are soft. Drain the potatoes in colander, then place in a large mixing bowl. Add all of the ingredients to the mixing bowl, and mix with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Pour the meat filling in a medium-size baking dish (about 4 quarts or 11 by 7-inch). Spread the mashed potatoes evenly over the top, or use a piping bag and pie the mashed potatoes over the top.
- Place the dish on a baking sheet, then bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes, then serve.