Cottage pie or shepherd’s pie is a meat pie with a crust of mashed potato. The term pie is known to have been in use in 1791, when the potato was being introduced as an edible crop affordable for the poor (“Cottage” meaning a modest dwelling for rural workers).
In early cookery books, the dish was a means of using leftover roasted meat of any kind, and the pie dish was lined with mashed potato as well as having a mashed potato crust on top.
The term “shepherd’s pie” did not appear until 1877, and since then it has been used synonymously with “cottage pie”, regardless of whether the principal ingredient was beef or mutton. More recently, the term “shepherd’s pie” has been used when the meat is lamb, the theory being that Shepherds are concerned with sheep and not cattle. This may, however, be an example of folk etymology. (Wikepedia)
Shepherd’s Pie has always been a staple of traditional Irish cooking. The British use lamb in their Shepherd’s Pie, but beef is quite popular and ground turkey can be used if preferred. This recipe can also be made in individual pie dishes, which are always a hit.
Traditional Irish Shepherd’s Pie
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely cut
1.25 lb lean ground lamb, ground beef or ground turkey
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
¼ tsp salt
pepper to taste
pinch of thyme
1 lb frozen mixed vegetables rinsed (peas, carrots, corn)
2 lbs potatoes
1 Tbsp butter
pinch of salt
1 raw egg beaten with 1 tsp water for egg wash
- Peel and quarter potatoes, boil in water until tender.
- While the potatoes are cooking, add 2 Tbsp of oil to a medium sauce pan, on medium heat, sauté the onions until golden. Raise the heat to medium-high, add meat of your choice, mix while cooking, until it begins to brown. When meat is cooked through, add 2 cups of water, bay leaf and garlic and bring to a simmer. Let the liquid reduce to ½ cup. Simmer for minimum of 40 minutes.
- Add tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, thyme and frozen vegetables and mix well and let it simmer for 5 more minutes. Empty into oven-safe deep dish. Remove bay leaf.
- Place the rack in the middle shelf of the oven and preheat the oven to 400F.
- When the potatoes are tender, drain and mash with butter and salt to taste.
- Spoon and spread the mashed potatoes over top of the meat mixture. Rough up with a fork so that there are peaks –or- use the fork to make some designs for the top to brown nicely. Brush with egg wash and put it in the oven.
- Bake for 30~45 minutes until golden brown on the top.