Cottage pie

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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, with mashed or sliced potato on top. It comes from the United Kingdom and Ireland. The dish is now popular worldwide.

Cottage pie is made using the same or very similar ingredients to shepherds pic. Nationally Cottage pie is made with Beef mince and Shepherds pie is made with Lamb mince.

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. Originally, a pie made with any kind of meat and a potato topping was called a "cottage pie".

In modern British English, the dish is usually called "cottage pie" if it is made with beef with a sliced potato topping, representing the tiles of a roof. Though mass produced pies often have a mashed potato topping instead. If it is made with mutton or lamb 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. 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 mutton/lamb Shepherd's pie.

A similar dish to cottage pie is hotpot. However, Hotpot is slow cooked in a lidded crock pot or casserole dish.

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

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]