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Shepards Pie Virgin Here!

I posted another thread about needing an alternative dinner idea of St. Patricks Day other than the typical corned beef and cabbage idea. I've settled on doing a shepards pie, which I've never made before. I'm trying to find one which uses champ at the topping, not just plain, mashed potatoes.

So, if you think you have a really good, authentic version of this recipe, please be so kind to post it here for me? Thanks!

Oh and here's a question. Is putting melted cheese on top of the pie traditional or some sort of americanized affectation? I've seen it served this way, and wasn't sure of the answer.

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  1. Champ is essentially a variation of mashed potatoes so I would simply prepare my favorite version of Shepherd's Pie and use the Champ in place of my regular top cover.
    As for cheese - never heard of it for Shepherd's Pie so I'd say it's am American adaptation. "Americanized affectation" just sounded a bit like I might be suggesting using the cheese was somehow dishonest so I didn't want to go that far.
    I love your idea for moving away from the traditional St. Patrick's Day corned beef and cabbage thing. It is very refreshing to find someone thinking outside the box.

    1. I wouldn't say cheese is an "Americanized affectation", I've had shepherd's pie in England and Ireland and some have had cheese on them. I have also had shepherd's pie w/champ that had some white irish cheese mixed into the champ. There was never a lot of cheese used. Just enough to taste. I guess it's up to the maker of the pie.

      13 Replies
      1. re: CadienBelle

        I'm trying and trying to think how Shepherd's pie is Irish.....the history of it as I have read goes back to Northern England and Scotland...not Ireland...and the traditional meat is roasted lamb or mutton, NOT beef. And, you would probably never have had cheese on it if you were a shepherd back in the day, am I right? (I will confess that when I make this dish, I do love to add red wine to the leftover roast lamb that's been cut into cubes...they would NOT have had red wine either!!!) I say to the OP Elora: do as YOU please! Make it however you choose! (but cheese would probably have not been added way back in the day of the shepherds in Northern England/Scotland).

        1. re: Val

          Who said it's Irish? Certainly I didn't. I guess from what you're saying the Irish can't make shepherd's pie because you say it didn't originate there? And who said anything about cheese being the norm? It's up to the maker of the pie. If you want to get that technical about it, if it's got hamburger in it it's a cottage pie.

          One more thing. My father is Irish... I suppose I could ask. He makes a mean shepherd's pie!!

          1. re: CadienBelle

            CadienBelle, your post mentions authentic...maybe I was wrong to confuse it with original, so no offense was intended...I'm Scottish/Irish by heritage and I only know this dish as Scottish...as I did say, do as YOU please....and your father is probably your best resource, by all means! And, please do share his recipe with us!

            1. re: Val

              No harm done; hey, the Champ is Irish ;>)
              I've got some of that Scotch-Irish stuff in my veins too. But it's diluted with half a dozen others so I can't claim any fanciful association with the origination of Shepherd's Pie. I do believe, however, that it is more closely associated with Northern England the Ireland. I wonder if it came to be a more common dish for the Irish when they were fleeing the potato famine and migrating to England where they suffered greatly and many an Englishman trying to help may have used something like a Shepherd's Pie to stretch the food dollar. That's pure speculation, of course, but I like the romance in the idea. Can't forget that this is a foodie forum, not a European history forum. So I'll leave that subject alone here.

              1. re: Val

                Actually Flora's post mentioned authentic. I was just replying about the cheese. No harm done :)

                My dad never puts cheese in his but some other family member's do... hence the reference to Ireland and England.

                Dad puts stout in his pie... maybe that's what makes it so good... ;)

                As soon as I can pin him down I'll get the recipe.

                1. re: CadienBelle

                  That would be great Cadien, would appreciate it!

                  1. re: Elora

                    Dad's Shepherds Pie

                    russet potatoes, about 4 large or 5 medium , cut into cubes and boiled
                    butter
                    cream or half & half
                    S&P to taste
                    1 egg whipped into potatoes
                    (if you have leftover taters, by all means use them just remember to whip an egg into them before putting on filling.)

                    about 2 lbs. of lamb roast from previous meal, minced or ground lamb can be used
                    enough olive oil and butter to saute vegs.
                    2 carrots peeled and chopped
                    1 lg. onion, chopped
                    2 or 3 cloves of garlic, minced
                    chopped leeks or scallions, whichever you have
                    (if you have gravy leftover from the lamb use it, but if not use the following)
                    3-4 tbls butter
                    3 tbls AP flour
                    about 3/4 bottle stout
                    1 cup good beef stock, homemade is best
                    good dose of worcestershire
                    fresh chopped thyme
                    if using ground lamb a little fresh rosemary can be added

                    While potatoes are on the boil, make the following:

                    Saute carrots and onion until they start to brown. Season with S&Pand add the garlic and cook about 1 minute. Remove vegs. and add 3-4 tbls butter and the 3 tbls flour and cook until the flour is browning nicely. Add stout, broth, worcestershire and thyme and cook until desired constinency is reached. Should be a thick gravy. If you think it's too thick add more broth or stout. Check for seasonings and add if needed. Combine meat and vegs. with gravy and put into casserole dish. Spoon mashed potatos over meat. Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until the potatoes start to brown good.

                    These amounts are approximate. Dad just uses what he has and the amount he thinks he needs for the amount of meat used.

                    1. re: CadienBelle

                      Thank you so much, I have a new recipe in case I don't find that darn recipe card. This looks great! Although I will still put cheese in my potatoes, for old times sake.

                  2. re: CadienBelle

                    I took out my old recipe a few days ago to see how much lamb to get, and now I CAN'T FIND IT! (I'm famous for absent mindedly throwing things in the garbage, I'm starting to think that's where it went). But in a way, it's good, as I'm looking around at other recipes trying to jog my memory and finding lots of great new ideas. The stout is the best one yet, instead of wine, I will definitely be trying that. And I saw leeks mentioned somewhere, that could only make it more authentic I think.
                    Re: the cheese, I always mix in a little shredded white cheddar with the potatoes, and also some parm on top (along with lots of paprika).

                    It's too bad Search only goes back a year, I know I posted my recipe a few years ago. Maybe I'll eventually figure out a way to retreive it before St Pats Day. If I do, I'll put it here. Another good reason to share recipes! At least in my case.

                    1. re: coll

                      You can change the search criteria - just change the one to a 5, or some such.

                      1. re: mirage

                        Wow, I totally did not know I could do that, thanks so much. I glanced through all the pages, and found one post where I said I would give the recipe later but obviously didn't. My bad. If I don't find it, maybe I'll just create something even better.

              2. re: Val

                You're right -- technically, it's not shepherd's pie unless it's made with SHEEP (lamb or mutton). If it's made with some other meat it's more properly called "cottage pie."

              3. re: CadienBelle

                I had it with an offer of cheese on top, in an Irish pub run by a chef from Ireland. My BF, who's heritage is Irish/Scottish said he's seen it come with cheese on top frequently in his travels. Personally, prior to that I'd never seen it offered that way, however, I'd never had it made by a native of Ireland before so that's what led to my asking.

                Personally, I wasn't crazy about the cheese on it, seemed overkill to me (this from a cheese nut no less). The champ alone was perfectly fine for me.

                As for it being Irish or Scottish, or even possibly northern England in origin, I'd be interested but my knowledge of it was always Irish. Anyone that ever made it for me was of Irish heritage and I've only seen it on menus in Irish places.

                Note to Val. I don't think anyone was questioning the fact that it's made with lamb. I thought that was a given.

              4. I learned to call the Lamb version "Shepherds Pie" (sheep-herder), and the Beef version "Cottage Pie". Any old "mash" on top. I like a mix of turnips & potatoes, or even Rumbledethumps. Cheese? I don't but I can see where a sprinkling of grated/shredded would be nice...

                3 Replies
                1. re: KiltedCook

                  and the french (Quebecois) version that I grew up with is called pâté chinois. How such a British dish could be called "Chinese Pie" I'll never fully understand.

                  Mom always made it with ground beef as the base layer, corn in the middle and mashed potatoes on top - and a bottle of heinz on the table :)

                  1. re: maplesugar

                    The québécois never cease to amaze; pâté chinois? I wonder whether that's from a misunderstanding, a mistranslation, or if it's just a completely crazy name. In France, it's called hachis parmentier (if beef), or parmentier de X, when made with X; both named after a man who popularized potatoes in France in the late 18th Century.

                    1. re: maplesugar

                      My canadian grandmother called it "chinese pudding" and added a can of peas before the mashed. And always served with ketchup.

                  2. I posted back in December looking for a recipe and got a ton of responses (and debate, of course!) I ended up using this recipe, which was delicious: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ho... Technically a "cottage pie," since it calls for beef, but you could easily use lamb instead. I subbed out cheddar for the Parmesan too. The rest of the thread is here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/582331

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Emmmily

                      Fantastic! I'll be subbing lamb, since the BF just gave up beef. Thanks for linking the other thread too.

                      1. re: Elora

                        I actually don't eat (non-organic) beef either, so I ended up using ground buffalo meat instead. One giant leap away from "authentic," but hey, it's what I had on hand. A pinch of nutmeg added to the mashed potatoes really added something too. Enjoy!

                    2. This is a class and traditional recipe: http://www.channel4.com/food/recipes/...

                      We use another one of his recipes for the joint. Very simple. Roast shoulder or leg on onions very slowly. The juices are beyond delicous both when the joint is served and in the pie.