Cottage pie

From Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A dish of cottage pie.
A dish of shepherd's pie.

Cottage pie or Shepherd's pie is a type of savory pie. It is made with minced meat, onions, vegetables, and gravy made from the meat juices and Worcestershire sauce, (often with Bovril added to enrich the gravy), with mashed potato on top. It comes from the United Kingdom but was also popular in Ireland. The dish is now popular worldwide.

Cottage pie is made using similar ingredients to shepherds pie - what separates them is the type of meat used. Nationally Cottage pie is made with Beef mince and Shepherds pie is made with Lamb mince. Both are topped with mashed potatoes, with a fork run across the top to create ridges which crisp in the oven.

The name "cottage pie" was first used at the end of the 18th century. It was around that time that the poorer people of Britain, people who lived in cottages in the country, started using potatoes as an everyday food. Cottage pie was originally made with left overs from the Sunday Roast, where left over roast potatoes were mashed to create the topping.

English pies that are topped with sliced potatoes which overlap each other and cover the meat and vegetables below are known as Lancashire hotpot and contain diced lamb (and more recently, diced beef), vegetables, and a rich gravy. Lancashire hotpot does not contain minced beef or minced lamb, or mashed potatoes, and therefore should not be confused with “cottage” or “shepherds” pie. Lancashire hotpot is cooked in individual ramekins or one large cast-iron pot or casserole dish (also known as a “Dutch oven”. It is cooked in the oven with the lid on for around one hour (if cooking one large hotpot in a cast iron pot), after which the lid is removed for the last thirty minutes or so of cooking, to allow the potatoes to crisp before serving.

In England and Britain the dish is usually called "cottage pie" if it is made with beef. If it is made with lamb (or mutton, however mutton is rarely sold in England in the modern day) it is usually called "shepherd's pie" (because a shepherd looks after sheep) and has a topping of mashed potato, patterned to represent sheep's fleece. “Cottage” and “Shepherd’s” pie is used interchangeably in former British colonies like Canada, Australia and the United States of America. The modern day cottage pie may now contain vegetables, lentils or beans in place of meat, and may have cheese sprinkled on top of the potato, although the addition of cheese with the beef Cottage pie is a recent addition, and is not found with lamb Shepherd's pie. Mutton is rarely if ever used in modern Britain - Shepherd’s pie is typically lamb.

Cottage pie (and Shepherd's pie) are oven cooked in a pie tray or baking dish without a lid, so the potato topping browns.

According to the Oxford Companion to Food, once upon a time, Scotland made its shepherd’s pies with pastry instead of mashed potatoes.

References[change | change source]

  • John Ayto (1990) The Glutton's Glossary: A Dictionary of Food and Drink Terms, Routledge, London.

Other websites[change | change source]