Grammy McHops passed along this delightful Shepherd’s Pie recipe from that irrepressible, unbridled fountain of joie de vivre, Rachel Ray. While the Aleheads neither condemn nor condone Ms. Ray as a celebrity chef, she is easily the best recipe source out of any of the Food Network personalities (at least as far as Wifey McHops and I are concerned…though Paula Deen certainly has her moments).

The novelty of this recipe lies in the sweet potato topping which, of course, is far superior to the often bland whipped white potatoes you generally find on the dish. For whatever reason, Ms. Ray has labeled the dark beer addition to the recipe as “optional”. Obviously this makes no sense since you can’t have a Shepherd’s Pie without some suds (both in the dish and on the side). This isn’t a query of Conundrum-esque nature, but I’m curious as to which dark beer Alehead Nation thinks would incorporate best into this fine recipe. Personally, I’d go with the Sam Smith’s Oatmeal Stout…one of the greatest session brews of all time. Any other suggestions?

One last alteration for those making this at home…consider subbing out the ground sirloin for lamb. It’s a damn Shepherd’s Pie, after all. A big tip of the mug to Grammy for sending this one along!


  1. So we’ve gone from beer blog to cooking blog? What have I gotten myself into?

    Mindful of the sometimes blurry line between stouts and porters, I would nevertheless go with a porter. I think the smokier flavors will hold up better in the cooking process (especially the reduction) than those of any stout, especially a mild-tasting one like Sam Smith Oatmeal.

    I’m not much of a porter man, but I am a homer, so I respectfully (not) suggest Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter.

  2. Rachel Ray? Rachel Ray?????

    Here’s a conundrum for you. If you were locked in a prison cell for the rest of your life and you would only be served one beer for eternity, what would be the worst choice that would lead you to suicide within a few months (Mine of course is the Bud Chelada)? If that doesn’t make sense, consider this. Having Rachel Ray as my eternal cell mate would be the ultimate punishment for any crime I may have committed in the past or plan to commit in the future. I HATE RACHEL RAY!

    I love Shepherd’s Pie though and applaud Grammy’s tolerance for sitting through an entire episode just to give us good Aleheads a tasty treat.

  3. I like shepherd’s pie, and I like sweet potatoes, and I like stout. So I’m going to just pretend Rachel Ray never entered into this and answer the question. I think a nice porter would add richness, sweetness, and a touch of smoke to the pie. I don’t mean to be predictable (nor a blatant homer like the Commander), but I’m going to suggest Deschutes Black Butte Porter here.

    Incidentally, I was listening to The Splendid Table a couple weeks back and they had a guest on to talk about cooking with stout. He was an idiot when it came to beer, but had the right idea when it came to cooking with it.

  4. I only eat pie with lobster in it. It’s a lesson I learned from Grammy McHops many, many beers ago. That being said, I think a shephard’s pie deserves a little more sweetness than you guys are offering. Especially if made with lamb. I’m going to go with the Young’s Double Chocolate Stout. Not only will it bring the required sweetness to the party, but that marriage of shephard’s pie and Young’s could finally bring peace between the Green and the Orange.

  5. Again, I make no claims as to the relative merits of Ms. Ray…but I will say that Wifey McHops and I have had very good luck with her recipes. Say what you will about the woman’s on-screen persona, but she makes some very tasty and accessible dishes. Although Doc, I can think of many, many individuals that would be lower on my list of “people I don’t want to be locked in a cell with” than a somewhat attractive professional chef. Unless of course she starts talking about EVOO…in which case I’d probably just lose it and shiv her.

    All good selections from you fine gentlemen. Commander, I think the line between Porters and Stouts has been so blurred (especially of late) that you can essentially consider them almost one and the same. There’s so little differentiation between the styles that I’m not even sure how brewers select which title goes on the beer (witness the Highland Oatmeal Porter). That’s not to say the Great Lakes offering wouldn’t be excellent in this recipe, and perhaps you’re right that the Sammy Smith is just too delicate.

    Magnus, I have no issues with the Young’s Double Chocolate and I definitely like the geopolitical ramifications. But for my money, Beerford picked the winner. The Black Butte is a perfect mix of burnt smokiness and chocolate sweetness. It would accentuate the sweet potatoes and the meat without overpowering anything.

    Regardless, I’d eat the hell out of this dish with any of these beers. Except for Doc’s Chelada of course.

  6. I’m going with Mario as the recipe king of Food Network. Mario says Deschutes Hop ‘n the Dark is the way to go… and dark with the bitterness of some hops to offset the sweetness of sweet potatoes. Also make sure there there’s some bacon added on top.

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