Shepherd’s Pie, also called Cottage Pie, is a homestyle one-dish meal from Britain. This is original comfort food. Like most high-style dishes today, it started out as peasant food, a way to stretch meager ingredients into a filling meal. This is an ideal dish for leftovers. The variations can be endless depending on what you have on hand and your personal taste.
Although traditional Shepherd’s Pie is made with mutton or lamb, thus the name, it really can be made with any sort of chopped or ground meat. The assortment of vegetables also is very adjustable.
The term Cottage Pie was first coined in the 1790s when potatoes were introduced in Britain as a staple crop for poor farmers. The term Shepherd’s Pie shows up nearly 100 years later and specifically refers to a meat pie made with mashed potatoes and mutton. Cottage Pie has usually referred to a beef pie. However, today in America mutton is very hard to find. Lamb is nearly as difficult to locate depending on what part of the country you live in. So, usually when we use the term Shepherd’s Pie, we’re actually talking about Cottage Pie made with ground beef.
Like many other peasant dishes, there are variations all around the world. Add bread crumbs on top and it’s Cumberland Pie. Vegetarian? No problem. Use tofu, lentils and chickpeas and you’ve got Shepherdless Pie. My own version could actually be called a Potato Casserole, which is popular in Dominica, Quebec, Russia, Bolivia and the Middle East. That’s because I add a topping of cheese.
This is an ideal dish to make your own. It can feed a large group or the easily- warmed leftovers can be paired with a salad, cornbread or home-baked rolls.
- 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 8 oz. sliced white mushrooms
- 1 tsp. salt, divided
- 1/4 stick unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup half & half
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 12 oz.. package frozen mixed vegetables
- 1 lb. extra lean ground beef
- 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 Tbsp. flour
- 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
- 1/8 tsp. ground red pepper
- 1 cup low-sodium beef broth
- 3 lbs. Gold potatoes
- 2 Tbsp. salt
- 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
- Peel and cut potatoes into 1/2-inch cubes. Rinse. Put in large sauce pan or medium pot and add enough water to cover. Put pot over high heat and bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium and simmer potatoes for 10 to 15 minutes until they are soft but not falling apart.
- When potatoes are done, drain and add butter, half & half, 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Mash by hand until most lumps are gone and potatoes have the right consistency without being paste-like. Do not over mash them!
- Preheat oven to 425°F. In 12-inch skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add onion and cook 3 min., stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms and 1/4 tsp. salt and cook 5 to 7 min. or until all liquid evaporates and mushrooms are lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Stir in frozen mixed vegetables and cook 2 min. longer. Spread vegetable mixture evenly in 3-quart casserole.
- In same skillet, cook ground beef over high heat 5 min. or until browned, breaking up meat with side of spoon. Stir in tomato paste, flour, thyme, ground red pepper and remaining 1/4 tsp. salt; cook 1 min., stirring. Add broth to beef mixture and heat to boiling; boil 1 min. or until mixture thickens slightly. Spread beef mixture evenly over vegetables.
- Spread potatoes evenly over beef. Bake 2o min. or until sides bubble. Remove and add cheese evenly over the top and replace in oven for another 5 minutes. Let stand at least 5 min. before serving.