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.
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
Recipe by: Fae’s Twist & Tango (fae-magazine.com)
• 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
• 1 large onion, finely cut
• 570 g/ 1¼ lb lean ground lamb, beef or turkey
• 4 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 bay leaf
• 1¼ cups hot water
• 2 Tbsp tomato paste
• 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
• ¼ tsp salt
• ground black pepper to taste
• pinch of thyme
• 454 g/ 1 lb frozen mixed vegetables rinsed: peas, carrots, corn (option: mushroom, green beans…)
• 1135 g/ 2½ lbs Russet potatoes
• salt & pepper to taste
• 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
• ½ cup milk
• 1 egg yolk
• 3 stems scallions thinly sliced (optional)
◊ Add 2 Tbsp oil to a medium-size pot, on medium heat, sauté the onions until golden. Raise the heat to medium-high, add meat, continuously stir while sautéing, until it begins to brown. When meat is cooked through, add 1¼ cups of hot water, bay leaf and garlic, put lid on and bring to a simmer and put the heat on low. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the liquid reduces to ½ cup.
◊ Meanwhile, peel and cube potatoes in 3cm/ 1″ sq, boil in water, until tender. Drain, add salt and pepper to taste, add butter and mash.
◊ Beat the egg yolk with milk. Add to the mashed potatoes and stir. Add sliced scallions and stir. Set aside.
◊ To the simmered meat, add tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, thyme, and frozen vegetables. Mix well and simmer for 5 more minutes. Empty into an oven-safe deep dish and remove bay leaf.
◊ Place rack on middle shelf of the oven and preheat oven to 200°C / 400°F.
◊ Spread 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 so the top will brown nicely.
◊ Bake for 30~45 minutes, until golden brown on the top.
~ Bon Appétit! ~
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