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Shepherds' Pie

Anyone else out there make this with lamb? Isn't that what shepherds take care of: sheep?Everytime I see it on a restaurant menu, it's made with ground beef. Wouldn't that be Cowboy Pie?

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  1. Shepherd's Pie is traditionally made with lamb. I think they started making it with beef for us silly Americans.

    3 Replies
        1. re: Scrapironchef

          Are you sure? I think I saw a special on shepherd at Safeway last week...

          Scrapironchef, that was my best laugh of the day.

    1. I learned in another post that the beef version is properly known as "Cottage Pie". "Sheperd's Pie is made with lamb or, ugh, mutton.

      4 Replies
      1. re: bropaul

        correct, Shepherd's pie is lamb, Cottage Pie is beef - I am a Brit!!

        1. re: bropaul

          "ugh, mutton"? Mutton would be wonderful right now.

          1. re: bropaul

            I used to work in a British pub in Ecuador, and if I ever have to listen to another sanctimonious Brit traveller flying around the world on mommy's quid tell me that what was called "shepard's pie" on our menu was really cottage pie because it was made with beef, I think I might kill them

            but yes, this is what I learned while I was there.

            1. re: dagoose

              Isn't a hot dog a sausage on a bun?

          2. Yes it was always made with lamb in my family. Sundays leftover leg of roasted lamb was put through the grinder ( anyone else remember the gadget that you would clamp onto the kitchen counter ?) seasoned and topped with mashed potatoes. Delish....

            1 Reply
            1. re: tunapet

              I still have my Nannie's grinder.. and that's exactly how I do it....And add the left over peas and carrots, and use the left over baked tatties for the mash crust.

              **insert sound of heavenly choir**

              Just divine!!!

            2. Made it last night with lamb (if made with beef it's cottage pie as others have said). We added corn to the mix, as well as the usual carrots and onions. Added a little mascarpone cheese to the mashed potato mixture before spreading it on top. Sprinkled with cayenne pepper before baking.


              2 Replies
              1. re: victoriafoodie

                Did you ever add a tin of baked beans to the meat in a cottage pie? Also, we used to have Hot Pot -beef stew topped with a savoury crust.

                1. re: Densible

                  Baked Beans (Heinz is the only variety worth eating) goes so well with either cottage PIe or sheperds Pie. In fact Baked Beans is the (surprisinly) perfect combination to any form of Beef or Lamb pie I can think of.

                  First came across it in a dodgy cafe in Magaluf, Spain(a teenage holday when food was simply something do pass the time between drinks) thought it was weird to get a sheperds pie with beans poured on top, but a group of us used to go back every day for the same thing - so good!

              2. As everyone else has posted, shepard's pie is always lamb and cottage pie is beef. Beef is cheaper and more familiar in the US hence the lame substitution.

                I *love* shepard's pie. We always make them with the remnants of a braised lamb shoulder roast. Pretty found of cottage pie too. And then there is chicken pot pie... Tasty.

                1. Trying to get Americans to eat lamb, much less mutton (notice the "ugh" comment above?) is damn difficult unless they've grown up with it, and most of us - myself included - did not. And that's why you'll find all those restaurants serving "shepherd's pie" made with beef, and even the frozen kind (from Canada!) is cow meat. I'm lucky enough to have discovered lamb on my own and become immediately addicted, and any shepherd's pie issuing from my kitchen is by golly the real deal.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: Will Owen

                    Are you serious, Will??

                    Lamb is the national Aussie dish...

                    Roast Lamb on Sundays, with baked potaotes, baked pumpkin and carrots... pan gravy...

                    I know that there is a culinary gulf between our two fair countries ( I don't know what chittlins are and you don't know what a lamington tastes like), but I never thought that lamb fell into this category.

                    Are you seriously telling me that forquarter chops... or chumps on the BBQ are NOT part of your national psyche??

                    1. re: purple goddess

                      Americans have a very strange relationship with lamb. I am always irked whenever I read a restaurant review that says something like "the lamb was great! Not at all gamey!" Lamb SHOULD be gamey! Otherwise it's just beef by another name! I would kill for some strongly flavored mutton, but it's impossible to find in the Silicon Valley.

                      1. re: purple goddess

                        Nope, not very widely eaten in the US. I never had lamb until I was an adult and thought I was being very daring when I first ordered it. You can't even find it in a lot of grocery stores. Here it's mostly beef, pork and chicken.

                        What's a chump?

                        1. re: mojoeater

                          otherwise known as a curly tailed chop..

                          Standard fare here in OZ...

                        2. re: purple goddess

                          When I was younger, IMHO, the lamb was not of the same quality that we can now get in this modern day and age. It just seemed not as fresh. I did not like lamb as a youngster, but now I love it.

                          1. re: purple goddess

                            Lamb is available at every grocery store and butcher that I shop at in Los Angeles, but no, lamb is not nearly as popular as beef in the US. I don't know anyone who eats meat but does not eat lamb. There is also less variety as to age/weight/growing conditions than in other countries. You would never see something labeled mutton, etc. Less volume = greater price. Much of the lamb available is actually imported from Oz.

                            I love lamb.

                        3. Lamb, except for the occasional lamb chop, is almost impossible to find in any grocery stores here, although a few do carry it around St. Patricks day along with corned beef so that we can all be Irish for a day or two. Even at that the cost is somewhere around 3x what is charged for a similar cut of beef. At 9 or 10 dollars a pound I'm reluctant even to use it in stew, let alone grind it up and put it in a pie.

                          My experience has been that lamb is great if it is cooked properly, but it is not a forgiving meat - probably too lean. The thing about beef is that you really have to abuse it to make it inedible, pretty much the same for chicken - although that is easier to dry out. Pork comes in there somewhere too.

                          For a while New Zealand frozen lamb was available, maybe sometime in the late 70's. Apparently it was not a sucessful venture as it has long since disappeared from the freezer case. As for mutton, I've never even seen it for sale. So no Purple Goddess, lamb is not not even part of our national menu, let alone our psyche.

                          18 Replies
                          1. re: KaimukiMan

                            When I joined this board, I honestly thought I'd learn about all sorts of new things... exotic delicacies from strange and unusual lands...

                            But I think this is the weirdest thing of all!!!

                            Lamb is rather expensive here in OZ, at certain times of the year.. but it is always.. ALWAYS available... The lamb section of the butchers is usually as large, if not larger than the beef section.

                            We eat lamb at least once a week,

                            lamb rogan josh.. minced lamb in mousakka, grilled lamb chops, roast lamb, lamb sausages, souvlaki, gyross, rack of lamb, crown roast, breaded cutlets with mash and brown onion gravy...

                            I am totally gobsmaked that it's not as huge over there.

                            In peak season, you can get lamb chops (chump, BBQ, forequarter, loin, backstrap, ribs) for as little as $4.99 kg.

                            I have just realised that lamb cutlets and rack of lamb, two-tooth and pumped mutton are prolly NOT something you guys see every day in any butchers shop!!!!

                            And IMHO, Lamb is MUCH more forgiving than any other meat.. Hell.. Mater Beige can't even bugga up a lamb roast!!!!

                            wow.. I am amazed!!

                            1. re: purple goddess

                              It wouldn't surprise you if you drove across the country and saw all the cows grazing in thousands of acres in every state. The chances of seeing a herd of sheep are slim, but cows are everywhere.

                              1. re: purple goddess

                                I would do anythingfor either some New Zealand lamb or some english lamb (in fact for English lamb I would do anything twice!!). The poor availability of lamb is one my main gripes about living out here in California. To be fair I can always buy lamb, but it is either Californian grown (which is simply not strongly flavoured enough for my tastes) or occasionally a decent looking Australian cut is floating around (which is not on par with New Zealand or British IMO).

                                The other gripe is the cuts available, a decent leg of lamb would be great, I mean a decent leg with the bone still intact - lots of boonless legs about which I basicly use cut up in various dishes).

                                Trader Jo's has about the best selection but I'm relectacnt to buy my meat from them after a few bad experiences. I've asked the local butcher about mutton (his responses make me wonder if he is indeed a butcher - he's clueless about it).

                                One thing that is fairly easy to come across is actually ground lamb, and while I'm sure its only Californian lamb it is fairly easy to come across out here.

                                1. re: rob133

                                  Jon's grocery stores always have a decent supply, but not as strongly flavored. But they do often have lamb hearts, which I once had and were very nicely strong.

                                  1. re: rob133

                                    Trader Joe's butterflied leg o' lamb is excellent. I do prefer the unseasoned. I tie it up on my little electric rotisserie and it comes out mouth wateringly pink and juicy but perfectly brown & crusty on the outside. Also used it for a fabulous mushroom barley soup last week with lots of root veg. A nice thing to do is to put it in a plastic bag with dijon mustard, crushed garlic, evoo, and bruised rosemary and massage for a couple of hours before roasting. I pay about $10 for a small leg that makes about 4 servings or one big pot of soup (6 quarts).

                                    1. re: niki rothman

                                      Awfully nice for grilling in the hinged wire thingy, too!

                                      1. re: Will Owen

                                        Hi Will !
                                        I haven't tried that metal basket yet. But I should. Any hints on using it? Kind of intimidates me. I want you to know I just signed up as one of your readers/fans. You have the honor of being the only person I'm being alerted to read - your posts are great!

                                        1. re: niki rothman

                                          I'd tell you, Niki, but the Illuminati that run this thing would kick us over to Home Cooking. Let's just say that it makes grilling things like fish and butterflied dead animals a whole lot easier, since you can just pick the whole damned mess up and turn it over in one swell foop instead of scraping at each piece with a spatula. Leaves the grill cleaner too. Aside from that, no difference in time or temperature.

                                          And thank you for the compliments! Very kind of you.

                                      2. re: niki rothman

                                        I use almost the identical wet rub as you but I learned from my mom to also use soy sauce and I've added fresh mint. I've also grilled the butterflied leg with excellent results as well as retied it and cooked it with indirect heat on a weber.

                                    2. re: purple goddess

                                      The first time I had lamb was in England. It's easier to find these days but not ubiquitous as chicken, beef, pork. When I flew a polynesian airline, they served lamb korma. Not something you'd ever see on an American airline!

                                      1. re: purple goddess

                                        Wouldn't you know it....

                                        I stopped at Costco for lunch (I admit, I love the polish sausage) and while I was there went in. Sure enough they did have lamb for sale. Lamb chops for about $3 per pound and a lamb roast (boneless) for about $4 per pound. Of course I was not going to be near a refrigerator or freezer for the next several hours, so I couldn't buy any.... but, yes, it was there.

                                        1. re: purple goddess

                                          Stand-alone butcher's shops are uncommon in the US in this day and age, and are considered specialty stores for the most part. The vast majority of meat here is bought at all-purpose supermarkets, and as you can see from reading the responses in this thread, its availability varies quite a bit depending on area of the country, ethnic makeup of the region, and so on. If you go to an actual butcher's shop, you are likely to find several cuts of lamb for sale (again, depending where you are, I suppose), or they'd certainly be able to order a large cut (e.g., leg, crown roast) for you.

                                          But lamb is without a doubt the least popular or common red meat for Americans to cook at home (I'm speaking of domesticated, not game meats), while beef and pork are both ubiquitous and beloved. In my experience, it's not uncommon to see lamb on restaurant menus, though, at least in metropolitan areas. You'll often find rack of lamb offered in upscale places, and of course, there is often plenty of lamb to be found in Middle Eastern and Indian restaurants.

                                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                            "Stand-alone butcher's shops" are very common in NYC. I guess we are extremely fortunate here to still have real Butchers, Fish Stores and Greengrocers in every neighborhood. In my neighborhood there is more than one Butcher, and he is always crowded, closing early on Saturday because he sold out of everything. There is always a line at the Fish Store.

                                            In our family growing up we always had lamb. Lamb chops, lamb stew, and the Sunday Roast Leg of Lamb. Eating habits, culture, and culinary traditions are very different in different parts of the country.

                                        2. re: KaimukiMan

                                          KMan, I see you're in Honolulu, so lamb might be more difficult to find there, but as long as I've been living on my own (almost 30 years) it's ALWAYS been available here on the East Coast (New Jersey, PA, and MA). Not always in great quantities (more so in Spring around Easter) but I've almost always been able to find chops, boneless legs of lamb, whole legs of lamb.

                                          And I was one of the lucky ones who was brought up with it - Mom would always try and get it for my requested birthday dinner (in October, no less) and most of the time, she found it or was able to order it for me. So while it's not part of the American national menu, it has been available for those that want it, and I think it's become more widely available ever since American lamb has become more prevalent. Yes, the chicken, beef, and pork sections in the supermarkets are WAY bigger. But lamb *is* available.

                                          1. re: KaimukiMan

                                            KaimukiMan, where on earth are you? I never had any trouble finding lamb when we lived in Nashville, and here in Southern California it's even more ubiquitous. Trader Joe's has a huge variety of lamb cuts, mostly Australian or from New Zealand, from racks to legs boneless and otherwise, and the cheap Latino market down the street has bone-in shoulder roasts this week at $2.89/lb. I don't think I'd care to live anywhere lambless...

                                            1. re: Will Owen

                                              Seems that most foods are more ubiquitous in Southern California. I love Trader's and really miss it when I'm on the East Coast. There are some out here, but none near where I stay. And while you might always be able to find lamb in large, metropolitan areas, most of the country isn't so lucky.

                                              1. re: Will Owen

                                                Will, If you can get TJ's to open a store in Hawaii we would probably throw you a parade. As far as neighborhood groceries, they have all but disappeared (and for the most part it was not a great loss).

                                                1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                  Maybe you're on the wrong island! Shopped at several small locals on Kauai last year...but yeah, some of'em aren't that great. One place my pa-in-law said used to be good, we went in and the first thing we saw (and smelled) was a non-functioning wall cooler with warm eggs and lunch meat on the shelves. And nobody seems to be selling kalua pig or lomi lomi salmon by the pound anymore.

                                                  And no, didn't see any lamb, either!

                                            2. I grew up eating lamb, in Southern California. I never cooked it for myself when I lived there though and I don't know how common it is in the stores.

                                              Now I live in Toronto and it's common here, but there's less of it than beef, chicken or pork. We do have frozen shepherd's pie with lamb at my local supermarket.

                                              1. And then there are Scotch meat pies. Again, with beans or pickled beets.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: DockPotato

                                                  yep I don't find it easy to find lamb in south florida, it is usually from NZ if they have it at all..

                                                  yum a roast leg with mint sauce and redcurrent jelly.

                                                2. Shephard's Pie is actually a traditional Irish Meal made with minced ground meat(s) and covered in gravy, atop the meat is a potato layer with then an optional cheese layer. Here in New England is the Americanized version - typical ground beef, corn and potatoes....

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: Jimbosox04

                                                    That sounds good--what kind of meat is used? I don't care for the Americanized version because it's so plain so I make it with the meat layer I use for moussaka, then layer corn and mashed potatoes.

                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                      basically you use whatever meat you may have around the house, may it be scraps of pork,beef, and of course lamb. It was made as a peasant food or that of institutional food to feed the many in the early days

                                                  2. Growing up, when my mom was in her vegetarian phase, she made a meatless shepherd's pie called "Good Shepherd's Pie," the implication being that only a "bad" shepherd would eat his own sheep! I always thought that was kind of funny, though I much prefer the "bad" version myself.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Low Country Jon

                                                      You poor thing. And I thought my mom's brown rice phase was tough!