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shepherd's pie: to cheese or not to cheese?

tatamagouche Aug 1, 2009 09:53 AM

thoughts?

  1. c
    cimui Aug 1, 2009 09:57 AM

    whatever you like to eat, tatamagouche!

    i personally love cheese with non-traditional variations made with beef, but i'm not such a fan of cheese with lamb for whatever reason (conditioning? too much richness?). but honestly, it's completely up to your tastes. cook it how ya feel it.

    1. elfcook Aug 1, 2009 10:15 AM

      My recipe comes from my sister's Irish MIL, although it is cottage pie (using hamburger), and there is no cheese in the recipe. However, in my house, we cover it with shredded cheese - extra good to us!

      1. b
        bigfellow Aug 1, 2009 10:27 AM

        Being Irish/scottish I grew up on Sherperd's Pie (or Pate Chnois as we call it hee in Quebec) As a chef I've been involved in numerous dicussions on the dish. Lamb or beef. What veg to put in, etc.

        What I've come to realize over the decadesis that you should do what ever "floats your boat".

        Enjoy!

        3 Replies
        1. re: bigfellow
          e
          Evilbanana11 Aug 1, 2009 11:01 AM

          Isn't sheppard's pie made with lamb while cottage pie with beef?

          1. re: Evilbanana11
            Paulustrious Aug 3, 2009 04:41 AM

            Yes... http://helenphillips.wordpress.com/20...

            However that distinction is not always made in the UK and the terms used to be somewhat interchangeable depending on what part of the country you lived in.

            Cheese is quite common. Posh versions can have a cheese sauce on top that is added later and put under the broiler to brown. Same can be done with scalloped spuds on top of the mash.

            1. re: Paulustrious
              greedygirl Aug 6, 2009 09:26 AM

              Yes it is. Cottage pie = beef. Sheperd's pie = lamb. Always.

              Cheese, on the other hand, is a matter of personal taste, but more usually found on cottage pie.

        2. v
          Val Aug 1, 2009 02:14 PM

          I agree with those who say "do what YOU want or what YOU would like." Me, never...I use leftover roast lamb, herbs, whatever leftover au jus I have from the lamb and a little red wine...mashed potatoes, period. David Rosengarten did a show on this way back when on the Food Network and portrayed (or tried to portray) the history of this dish which was very rustic and austere...there was no corn, no peas, no cheese to add to it in those days and in that locale (Scotland)...it was just leftover roast with juices with potatoes...even his version of it was probably not very authentic. I know, I know...you did not ask for authentic or say anything about it! But I'm Scottish by heritage too and I was charmed by that show!

          7 Replies
          1. re: Val
            tatamagouche Aug 1, 2009 02:49 PM

            I didn't mention it, but I was sort of curious about that very thing—I sort of assumed that cheese would be a later addition, and I wondered whether this was the sort of dish that would arouse great passions in purists...

            1. re: tatamagouche
              Phurstluv Aug 1, 2009 02:55 PM

              Love cheese. Don't use it on traditional shepherd's pie, but I don't make it that often, my mom kind of ruined it when I was growing up, and her recipe still sticks in my mind when I think of it.

              But, I DO add cheese to a Mexican version that I came up with - like a chili, usually made with ground turkey, but beef is fine, then add sprinkled cheddar on it before adding the mashed potatoes. Delicious, my dad requests it every time he visits, and my mom doesn't make it her way anymore!!

            2. re: Val
              Peg Aug 3, 2009 05:01 AM

              'no corn'?
              Why would there EVER be corn?

              1. re: Peg
                s
                smartie Aug 3, 2009 05:20 AM

                Brits put corn in lots of things and it's not unusual to see corn in Cottage or Shepherd's pie though I wouldn't say it's traditional.

                Cheese on top is not traditional in the UK but you will see it. I prefer it without cheese, it's just too much fat and protein.

                1. re: smartie
                  alkapal Aug 3, 2009 05:56 AM

                  what about english peas? that's how my (southern) elementary school made it.

                  i haven't made it in a while, but last time i made cottage pie, using ground beef, guiness, some tomato paste and worcestershire, minced onions and also adding the peas, it was pretty tasty, whatever the concoction ;-).

                  no cheese in my version.

                2. re: Peg
                  al b. darned Aug 5, 2009 10:18 PM

                  The only way I have ever had/made shepherd's pie is ground beef, corn, and mashed potatoes.

                  1. re: al b. darned
                    Phurstluv Aug 6, 2009 11:47 AM

                    That was my mom's recipe in the early '70s.

              2. pikiliz Aug 1, 2009 08:51 PM

                I have recently started to make Shepard's pie but I have to say it is so savory I never thought about adding cheese, I am going to try it tomorrow. I will report maybe a Stilton instead of cheddar

                1. mcsheridan Aug 3, 2009 05:37 AM

                  Shepherd's Pie (Lamb only, lamb always) - no cheese. Ever.

                  Cottage Pie (beef, mixed meats) - cheese? Sure, why not?

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: mcsheridan
                    Paulustrious Aug 4, 2009 03:34 PM

                    I noticed today that Costco's shepherd's pie had beef as the main ingredient. So I think it is fair to say any distinction is somewhat blurred.

                    1. re: Paulustrious
                      mcsheridan Aug 4, 2009 08:05 PM

                      Blurred? In this country it's practically erased!

                      If you see Shepherd's Pie on the menu in nearly any cafeteria, most pubs, and many restaurants, assume ground beef unless the menu explicitly says otherwise. A shame, but true.

                      Doesn't change the fact that it's really Cottage Pie ... in Sheep's clothing. :D

                      1. re: mcsheridan
                        s
                        smartie Aug 5, 2009 05:09 AM

                        ha, hopefully it's not wolf meat!

                        1. re: smartie
                          mcsheridan Aug 5, 2009 01:31 PM

                          Hmmm...now you've got me thinking of Sweeney Todd:

                          And we have some shepherd's pie peppered
                          With actual shepherd on top!

                          Talk about splitting hairs...or something. Ha!

                          1. re: mcsheridan
                            s
                            smartie Aug 5, 2009 02:33 PM

                            actually Sweeney Todd's wife made meat pies not shepherd's pies.

                            1. re: smartie
                              mcsheridan Aug 5, 2009 04:10 PM

                              True...but that's a lyric from the musical Sweeney Todd, sung so admirably by Angela Lansbury and George Hearn
                              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2gyl8a...

                              Literal Shepherd's Pie from the oddest pair of Chowhounds to ever grace the stage.

                              1. re: mcsheridan
                                Paulustrious Aug 6, 2009 05:45 AM

                                "The finest in the shop. Shepherd's pie peppered with actual shepherd on top"

                  2. c
                    cavandre Aug 6, 2009 05:43 AM

                    I like it with the cheese mixed into the mashed potatoes.

                    1. SnackHappy Aug 6, 2009 06:08 AM

                      I've done a lot of tweaking and experimenting with with shepherd's pie / cottage pie / pâté chinois over the years, and never once has the idea of adding cheese sounded good to me.

                      I'll put some butter and/or bread crumbs on top sometimes to crisp it up. I've even entertained the idea of putting béchamel on top, but cheese to me is just overkill.

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