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Definition of Shepherd's Pie

A few days ago I was reading a book, by an American author, that had a recipe for 'Shepherd's Pie' and was amused to see it used minced beef. Then I happened to catch an episode of Rachel Ray where she described a Shepherd's Pie as being made with any ground meat and topped with potato mash. This really, really bugged me. Being the nerdy, pedantic wordsmith that I am, I just have to say it...
The only meat in a Shepherd's Pie is LAMB (hence the 'shepherd' reference).
Cottage Pie is made with minced BEEF.
Anything else would be called a potato-topped pie.

There. Now I feel better.

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  1. i have to say that i have never had a shepherd's pie with lamb, however, that sounds INCREDIBLE! mine is a leftover beef (or pork, but i've never used chicken and have never ever never had leftover lamb. is that even possible?) mixed with veggies in a sauce topped with mashed potatoes and then smothered in cheese to make it extra heart healthy.

    16 Replies
    1. re: raygunclan

      SORRY RAY Meant to post this to Billy33
      Oh dear. What would Jane Austen say?
      Your use of "minced" indicates to us all here in the USA that you are British. Us folks, we all, and I surely am trying to indicate as many American slang uses as possible, Yes we do "it with ground ) beef. It is cheaper than ground lamb here. heck ground lamb you would have to order special from a custom butcher. Ground beef here is cheap meat.
      Which I suspect the "meat" in Shepard's pie is. My knowledge of food history is that Shepherd's Pie was a use of Leftovers. Leftover potatoes, leftover Sunday roast, etc.
      The likelihood of a shepherd using a lamb vs using (gasp! shall I say it?) really tough mutton is well, unique.

      1. re: Quine

        But the scottish shepherds did use leftover mutton (which IS lamb), right? ... some kind of root vegetable (potatoes or carrots or turnips) which was probably the only abundant vegetable in Scotland back in the old days...some herbs and for liquid, maybe mead or wine? David Rosengarten did an episode on Shepherd's Pie way back when his show "Taste" was on the Food Network (in the good old days of Food Network!) and depicted the dish in this way, with a bunch of Scottish shepherds out in the ancient fields.

        1. re: Val

          "leftover mutton (which IS lamb), right?" Well, it was a lamb.

          Same creature, sure, but the difference between mutton and lamb is a matter of age and flavor. Mutton is from a fully mature sheep, lamb is 4-12 month old when slaughtered.

          Mutton is strongly flavored, sorta tough and not very popular in the US. That has something to do with it being used as a cheap food product in the military, probably during WW I and II, and after a steady diet of it, you never want to have it on your dinner table again, trust me. It just never caught on here.

          Oddly enough, and as a cultural nomeclature I don't fully understand, I see "Goat for Mutton" advertised at my local big supermarket, sold mostly to the Caribbean community here. So, is it goat or mutton? Turns out that it's indeed goat, which is far better than mutton.

          1. re: bushwickgirl

            maybe in the Caribbean community "mutton" is the term for a particular dish - like "stew" or something.....

            i had mutton for the first time at a BBQ jjoint in Austin. It was delicious and tender, but of course smoked and sauced so it just tasted like lamb to me - not a stronger flavor than any other lamb i've had because it was disguised by other flavors.

            1. re: mariacarmen

              I've noticed that in some Latino markets around LA County "mutton" is sometimes used as the English label for both lamb and goat; though the two meats are to my taste quite different, I think the Mexicans (for instance) tend to use them interchangeably. I've had birria made from goat in some restaurants, lamb in others.

              1. re: Will Owen

                I've had that same experience with birria. and agree with you that the tastes are quite dissimilar.

                1. re: Will Owen

                  Will, can you discuss the differences in depth? I've always thought of goat as having the flavor of "lamb plus" but probably couldn't tell the difference unless I were to do a side by side tasting.

                  Mr Taster

                  1. re: Mr Taster

                    I think lamb has a much more distinct taste than goat. I love them both but I would never mistake one for the other.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      Same here. Love them both, too. The flavours are totally different from one another. To me goat tastes barnyardy in a good way (!) whereas lamb has a more delicate, albeit at times slightly gamey (depending on the age) flavour. We just had braised goat with paparadelle at a lovely southern Italian restaurant the other night - it was unbelievably tender and incredibly delicious (yet barnyardy!).

                      Whenever I see mention of Shepherd's Pie I think lamb. The best I have ever had has definitely been in Scotland and England.

                      1. re: chefathome

                        I could not improve on chefathome's explanation, though I would add that goat lends itself to very rich preparations perhaps more than lamb does, throwing that "goatyness" up against spices and sauces in birria de chivo, or in Indian curry dishes. We found ourselves at a surprisingly good Indian buffet one afternoon and I visited the goat curry enough times to begin getting self-conscious about it, except that I was not alone. Every time they brought a new pan out of the kitchen there was immediately a new line!

                        I would certainly adore that goat with pappardelle. Braised old overshoes with pappardelle would probably be edible, and I've already got rabbit and beef shanks on my to-do list for future reference, so I may as well add goat.

                        1. re: Will Owen

                          Not to worry.... Goat curry and goat roti are staples in the islands. To the point that any Fete {Party} or Lime{Get together} in Trinidad is not complete without souse or a goat curry .


                          1. re: Duppie

                            We're heading back to Rio in a couple of months. I can buy whole goat legs at the butcher around the corner. (He cuts them in 2-3" pieces on his band saw.) This is giving me some ideas.

                            1. re: c oliver

                              The least expensive goat at Halal (and Indian) markets is shoulder cut, while frozen, into cubes. It works well for various stews, provided you don't mind fishing out odd sizes of bone.

                              1. re: paulj

                                … and shoulder is about the best meat on any grazing or browsing animal. Now I know why those goat curries always yield a pile of bones on the edge of my plate! But, damn, it's worth the trouble.

            2. re: Quine

              Hi Quine, I'm actually in New Zealand. Hence the easy availability of sheep meat. Sorry, when i say 'lamb' in this context, I mean general sheep meat of any age, not necessarily baby sheep.

          2. Yes, Billy33, in a pedantic sense, you are certainly correct. But "Shepards Pie" is a term that has been used for a very long time to describe just about anything that has a meat base topped with either mashed potatoes, a pie crust, biscuits, etc. and baked in the oven to finish. Ambiguity is alive and well. When folks ask questions about Shepards Pie I try to help by explaining my responses in that way so they understand where, if anywhere at all, they might have become confused. "Tin Lizzie" is a type of quilting machine, but the old Model "T" Ford is still affectionately know by that colloquialism. I remember when "pot" was something you cooked in; today it's something they smoke.

            1. In the US lamb, especially ground (minced), is rare enough that few of us would have ever made a true Shepherd's pie. So the distinction between using beef and using lamb is more of a British one than an American one.

              I was just looking at the Wiki article, and there was something about the Cottage Pie originally being made with shingled slice of potato, hence the Cottage name.

              It also suggests that the 'shepherds = lamb' connection may be a case of 'folk etymology',

              Also that Irish and Canadians don't make the lamb v beef distinction.

              So if you are in London and see Shepherd's Pie on the menu, expect lamb or mutton. If in other English speaking countries, don't count on it; it may be beef.

              The Wiki article even has a link to a Chow tread

              By the way, in Mexico, tacos al pastor are not made with lamb, though there might a circuitous link to Lebanese lamb shwarma. And the Italian hunter's chicken is not necessarily made with items that a hunter would find. The connection between professions and food names can be tenuous.

              9 Replies
              1. re: paulj

                Still loving Wiki as a valid source and I adore being chowhound stalked. Wiki says..

                Why use a lamb? Since Shepard's or Cottage Pie , is still a recipe where left over meat., gravy and potatoes are used, mutton is the meat. Roasted if young enough, braised if not. Several days later, fill-up pie.
                Lambs, unless born dead, were a profit. Too old sheep, mutton, were food.

                  1. re: paulj

                    "And the Italian hunter's chicken is not necessarily made with items that a hunter would find." It's a common error (see the recipe in "Joy of Cooking") to think "cacciatore" means "hunter". The proper name is "cacciatora" and it refers to something made at the hearth, or on the home fire. Same root as "focaccia", which was originally baked at the fire instead of in an oven.

                    BTW, ground lamb is something I've always found fairly easily here in the US. It was in most of the supermarkets in Nashville; it's a little less common here in LA County, oddly enough, but can be found at most Armenian or Middle Eastern markets, such as Jon's. I usually make my Shepherd's Pie from leftover roast lamb, though, which I believe was its original version.

                    1. re: Will Owen

                      Are you daring to question the accuracy of Joy? Everything I know about cooking comes from there! :)

                      By the way, Joy's recipe for shepherd's pie is: prepare Hash, top with mashed potatoes, bake.
                      (1970s edition)

                      1. re: paulj

                        The newer Joy, 1997, with a lot more international cookery, has a longer shepherds pie recipe in the lamb section, with a note about the beef alternative name. In that book it's an exotic dish like Jamaican goat curry.

                        1. re: paulj

                          I wasn't questioning the accuracy of the recipe, which is a very good one, but Mrs. Becker's comment about how odd it is Italian hunters can find mushrooms and tomatoes so close at hand.

                          I am avoiding the new, improved version, by the way; I don't consider it the business of "Joy" to BE improved beyond its proper scope as a sort of Larousse Gastronomique of, by and for Middle America. I have 500+ other cookbooks for all the fancy stuff.

                        2. re: Will Owen

                          and that was exactly how Fabio was pronouncing it - "cacciatora" - thanks for that explanation.

                          tho i'm trying to find something online that correlates cacciatora with something made at the hearth - i just want to see the root of the word.... so "caccia" has something to do with open fire?

                          ETA - i just looked up "caccia" on an italian-to-english translation site and it says "hunting".... i'm not trying to argue or prove you wrong, i really want to know!

                            1. re: c oliver

                              that link says what I (and apparently many others) have always believed the word cacciatore or cacciatora mans - related to hunting. i would like to see something that says what WO is saying - that it relates to open hearth cooking. maybe it's that hunters, being out in the field, cooked their quarry of the day over an open fire.... again, not trying to argue, just trying to find out.....

                      2. Yes!!! I have been pushing this for ages - being a nerdy, pedantic wordsmith myself on occasion.

                        I try to remind people that a shepherd herds sheep - therefore the pie would contain lamb, not beef.

                        I'm glad you feel better - I'm glad I'm not alone.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: TheHuntress

                          Harters taught me just this. actually, i knew that Shepherds Pie was lamb but I didn't know that when you use beef it was called Cottage Pie - that's what Harters taught me. I have almost always made it with ground or minced (finely chopped roasted) lamb. Delish!

                        2. Here's a link to the more authoritative FoodTimeLine entry for Shepherd's pie (with focus on British usage)
                          The last recipe adds "Tinned ox-tails, ox cheek, kidney, &c., may take the place of the beef or mutton."

                          10 Replies
                          1. re: paulj

                            Can,,,oh wait for it...a recipe old enough, that even "tinned" Is science fiction? I bet!

                            OK, any economic folks out there? Would you kill a lamb? As a Shepard? Make it into a pie?
                            Let's face it folks Cottage or shepherd pie was a left over of Sunday Roast. Stillborn or died a few hours later lamb, but definitely a mutton dish. I suspect even in the UK,Mutton is a difficult find.

                            1. re: Quine

                              Having grown up with Shepard's Pie I always understood it to be made with lamb or mutton originally but because of the scarcity and expense of lamb rarely saw it prepared with anything other than leftover beef roast,hamburger and at times chicken, but that's a whole different animal.

                              1. re: Quine

                                Depends where you live. Mutton is not that hard to find in my bit of London. Neither is goat.

                                1. re: greedygirl

                                  Goat was never a problem in south Florida probably because of the large Latin and West Indian population. Lamb always came from New Zealand in those days thus the cost factor and can't remember much mutton but then again never really looked.

                                2. re: Quine

                                  Nope, mutton's not all difficult to find in the UK. Not as easy as lamb, of course, but not difficult. My regular supplier always has both - minced lamb at £10 a kilo and minced mutton at £8.91 per kilo.

                                  What *is" difficult to find is hogget.

                                  1. re: Harters

                                    By Hogget are you referring to veal? As a child I remember that term bandied about not so much as a meat source but more as in veal shanks for stock.

                                    1. re: Duppie

                                      Hogget is mature lamb - older than regular lamb but not quite mutton.

                                      1. re: Duppie

                                        From memory, in the UK, lamb is defined as under 12 months old, hogget as 12 -24 months, mutton anything older.

                                        1. re: Harters

                                          Good to know. Thanks and I can see why it would be hard to find simply because in America at least very few lamb make it past their 8'th month.

                                  2. re: paulj

                                    Curiously the earliest 'shepherds pie' recipe that FoodTimeLIne can find is from a book published in Philadelphia in 1886. That one combines the potatoes with some flour to make a soft dough that is rolled and put on top of the meat.

                                    An 1894 London book prefers putting the mashed potatoes on the bottom as well as on top, to better protect the meat. Even the 'Tinned meat, shepherds pie' from the same book envelops the meat with potato.

                                    Anyone every had shepherds pie made with canned mutton?

                                  3. Yeah.....(rolls eyes). You be as pedantic as you like but if it has something that resembles a stew on the bottom side and mashed tators on the top side, I'm calling it shepherd's pie. I don't use the term "cottage pie", either.

                                    I'm sure the shepherd's pie reference came from the lamb in the original shepherd's pie but I just don't care. I also insist on calling generic tissue, Kleenex.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: Hank Hanover

                                      Whether you care or not is immaterial. Shepherd's pie is made with lamb; cottage pie is made with beef. That is fact.

                                      1. re: greedygirl

                                        Fact many places the offer Shepherd's pie use beef. That is a fact.

                                        Shepherd's pie may have originally been made with lamb or mutton but that doesn't mean thats what it refers to today. The definition of words do change over time with usage.

                                        1. re: ESNY

                                          all depends on where you are. In any of the British Isles or English-inspired restaurants pretty much anywhere, Shepherd's is lamb or mutton, and Cottage is beef, and they'll bring you EXACTLY what you ordered, should they both be on the menu.

                                          1. re: ESNY

                                            Just because "many places the offer Shepherd's pie use beef" doesn't mean anything (other than that they don't know what Shepherd's Pie is. LOL).

                                            Kind of like places that make mixed drinks with vodka and fruit juices, and call it a 'Martini'.

                                      2. 100% with the OP.

                                        Shepherd's Pie is minced lamb and Cottage Pie is minced beef.

                                        If foreigners want to take our traditional foods, make them in their own way, with their own choice of ingredients but still call it by the traditional name then that is a matter for them. But traditional is not what it'll be any more. Full stop.

                                        31 Replies
                                        1. re: Harters

                                          Sorry got my info from a English source,

                                          "This pie was originally a way to use up leftover mutton or lamb.

                                          In my 1851 copy of Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, she suggests slicing or mincing the leftover meat finely, before mixing with chopped onions and placing it in a pie dish between layers of sliced potato. Moistened with stock and baked in the oven, the leftovers were soon turned into a tasty, filling supper dish"

                                          Read more: http://www.essentially-england.com/sh...
                                          "Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management was a guide to all aspects of running a household in Victorian Britain, edited by Isabella Beeton. It was originally entitled "Beeton's Book of Household Management", in line with the other guide-books published by Beeton."
                                          Sorry I did not check her birth records to see if she is a foreigner.

                                          1. re: Quine

                                            I'm not quite sure what you're arguing about. Shepherd's pie is made with minced lamb or leftover lamb (I've done both). Make the same dish with minced beef or leftover beef and it becomes cottage pie. That's just the way it is.

                                            1. re: greedygirl

                                              There's some folk will start an argument in an empty room, GG. My mum always used to make shepherd's or cottage pie for Monday night tea, using the leftovers from the Sunday roast (except when she turned the leftovers into rissoles).

                                              1. re: greedygirl

                                                So what's it called if the leftovers are a mix of lamb and beef, shepherd's cottage pie?

                                                  1. re: greedygirl

                                                    Actually that doesn't sound half bad...perhaps now is not the time to reveal that I add raisins to my recipe?

                                                  2. re: paulj

                                                    Hee hee, that's a brilliant name. What if you add in chicken mince too? Apart from being a bit odd-tasting would that be 'Shepherds Cottage Henhouse Pie'?

                                                  3. re: Quine

                                                    A 1907 edition of Mrs Beeton's (available via Google books) has 2 recipes for Shepherd's pie.

                                                    One calls for 1/2 lb cold mutton, 1 lb mashed potatoes. The other subtitled '(preserved meat)', calls for either 1/2 lb mutton or beef. Both line a pie dish with a thin layer of potato, with a thicker layer on top.

                                                    Another lady from the same era, a Mrs Roundell, 1898, says 'The pie can be made of any sort of cold cooked meat, or of several sorts, but the meat must be thoroughly minced.' The addition of a bit of ham, bacon, tongue or even liver is ok. The bottom is 'a thickish mattress of potato'.

                                                    (references found with Google ngram viewer).

                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                      Always good to remember a lot of British food was very regional, so lots of dishes would be made in the same way, with the same ingredients, but then have different regional names. "Mrs Beeton" really collected recipes from lots of sources and eventually published them as a book, which sort of became a brand/bible for cooks. I still have my mothers tattered copy she learned to cook from.

                                                      So you can probably find lots variation on the theme for Shepherds pie. It was the dish designed to use up leftover roast meat. So to be true to it's roots it should be minced roast not minced then cooked meat. If you make it this way it's quite different (and far better) than the mode version.

                                                      Should it be lamb rather than beef? It probably should be as cold lamb is far less appealing than cold roast beef (or even port). Roast shoulder or leg of lamb is a bit fattier than beef so is better suited to being made into a pie. Whilst left over beef would be eaten cold salad or in sandwiches.

                                                      Cottage pie is made with beef and not lamb, and it's made with minced beef which is cooked not roast beef that has been minced - again a subtle but important difference. In this more modern age shepherds pie is generally made with minced lamb which is cooked as fewer people have a Sunday roast.

                                                      Should it be mash or sliced potatoes. Well a lamb dish with sliced potatoes on the top and is cooked in the oven is usually a lancashire hot pot so a different beast entirely.

                                                  4. re: Harters

                                                    How old does it have to be to be traditional? According to FoodTImeLine sources the earliest print references to shephards pie date to the 1870s; cottage pie is older. Meat pies go back much longer, but potatoes are a relatively recent import.

                                                    1. re: Harters

                                                      How come the beef version isn't called Cowboys Pie? Or are eating beef and living in a cottage strongly connected?

                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                        here's a newsflash...not all beef producers are cowboys.

                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                          I only know one beef producer. I think he'd piss himself laughing if I called him a cowboy. Here's a photo of Jim and his family and their website:

                                                          I suspect calling something "cottage pie" will have been a recipe writer's idea simply describing a frugal meal of leftovers, such as might be eaten by pooer people living in cottages.

                                                        2. re: Harters

                                                          Harters, I am in full agreement with you! If I saw Shepherd's Pie on a menu, for example, I would be sorely surprised and disappointed if it was anything but lamb or mutton.

                                                          1. re: chefathome

                                                            Have you ever seen it on a menu in the USA or Canada - with the correct meat?

                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                              Yes, in Canada - Toronto, Victoria and a tiny little village in Saskatchewan.

                                                              1. re: chefathome

                                                                Can you be more specific about Victoria? That's within visiting distance.

                                                                  1. re: chefathome

                                                                    Thanks. I think I came across that in an earlier search, though they aren't adhering strictly to the lamb/beef distinction.

                                                                    Last time I camped on nearby Saltspring Island I sought out the locally famous lamb. However the only cut I ended up buying was ground, which my journal notes say I made into "lamb 'loose meat' on buns with shallot, fennel, paprika, salt'. Suppose I could have served it on instant mashed and called it upside down shepherd's pie. :) A proper pie would have required firing up the dutch oven - an extra 40 minutes or more.

                                                              2. re: paulj

                                                                YES! There is one place that makes it properly and it makes me so happy! And it's so good too!! They also make steak & kidney pie! Now if they only have an Irish fry up breakfast....

                                                                When I see it on a menu at other restaurants, I always ask to confirm that it's lamb only to be disappointed to find out it's beef.

                                                                I actually think the US makes it with lamb because not all Americans like lamb, so they make it with beef to appease our palate.

                                                                1. re: funniduck

                                                                  You may right about American palates, funniduck. You see a lot of Chowhound posts where folk say they have never eaten lamb or don't like the taste because it's "gamey" (whereas I'd always think of lamb as a lovely sweet-tasting meat, not at all like, say, venison). You can easily understand that the recipe was changed to suit those tastes and the much wider availablity of beef.

                                                                  1. re: Harters

                                                                    It may have changed since, but I stumbled across the information some time ago that the US used to have regulations that allowed the meat from a sheep to be sold as lamb long after the rest of the world called it mutton.

                                                                    Additionally, the only way that 'lamb' was available was cooked quite thoroughly, then cooked a little longer, and served with over-sweetened mint jelly (not mint *sauce*)-- and only at Easter.

                                                                    That would make a lot of sense -- if all anyone had experienced lamb that was as strongly flavoured as what most mutton is and slathered in a sticky-sweet coating that tasted vaguely of mint, it's no wonder people now avoid lamb like the plague.

                                                                    Fortunately, lovely lamb from New Zealand and Australia (that really is young enough to be lamb!) is becoming more and more available in the States, as well as information of how to cook and accompany it properly...so the tide is turning, albeit slowly.

                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                      Good to hear. I've regularly visited the States since 1980 and think I've only seen lamb on a restaurant menu once - and then it was a place that seemed to be trying to be European in its style.

                                                                      1. re: Harters

                                                                        Really? I'm surprised to read that. I find lamb shanks to have become almost ubiquitous in certain types of high(er) end places. To the point that one could say 'oh, I hope they have lamb shanks on their menu tonight.'

                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                          Since now that we're talking about this, and me being a numbers loving analyst, I had to know.
                                                                          According to USDA, we eat about less than a pound of lamb per year and it hasn't changed much in the last 25 years.
                                                                          Not surprisingly, New Zealand eats the most pounds of lamb per year.
                                                                          New Zealand 57; Australia 30; Saudi Arabia 27; Ireland 20; Bulgaria 15; (United States 0.8)
                                                                          www.ers.usda.gov/data/foodconsumption... (EXCEL SPREADSHEET)

                                                                          1. re: funniduck

                                                                            is that adjusted for the increase in population?

                                                                            If it isn't, that would actually show a reasonable increase in per-capita lamb consumption -- for the average to stay about the same with an increasing population would definitely hint that lamb consumption has increased ...unless the numbers have been adjusted.

                                                                            I know that when I was a kid, lamb was a once-a-year treat that my mom saved up for...and that every time I saw it in a restaurant as a kid, it was cooked past dead and swimming in sickly green jelly.

                                                                            Now in the US, lamb is easily available (though still pricey enough to make it special)...and I haven't seen a tough grey slab of it in gooey green jelly in decades.

                                                                            YMMV...that's my observation.

                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                              i think you should take a look at the numbers in the USDA site and decide after reading. I think that it's staying as is, but you can always disagree.

                                                                              1. re: funniduck

                                                                                you read it - a simple yes, it was adjusted, or no, it wasn't will suffice.

                                                                        2. re: Harters

                                                                          The US is a big place. I grew up on the east coast (New Jersey) where lamb was a regular part of our protein rotation in our family.

                                                                          When I went to school in the midwest, not a single one of my friends had grown up eating lamb, and in fact my roommate found the aroma and flavor utterly offensive.

                                                                          Mr Taster

                                                                  2. re: paulj

                                                                    come to Hamilton Ontario. Had the greatest population of Brit imports during the 60's and 70's anywhere in Canada. Tons of British pubs. Authentic. The best though is at my local legion. Use to be all Scots. Best Robbie Burns supper ever! Had to buy tics in November cause they sold out.

                                                              3. Shepherd's pie = lamb. Cottage pie = beef. I have never lived more than a few months outside the US but I've been clear on that. People can call it what they want but it's wrong. Right? :)

                                                                13 Replies
                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                  On the other hand, i don't recall ever hearing about Cottage Pie until this week.

                                                                  The American Heritage Dictionary (1976) specifies just 'meat' for shepherds pie, and does not have an entry for cottage pie. That, I suspect, is typical of American usage. Do you have any idea of where you picked up the distinction? Old family usage? British cookbooks?

                                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                                    That's because it's a traditional British dish, not American at all. I wouldn't presume to lecture an American about hamburgers - so please do me the courtesy of not arguing that shepherd's pie is made with beef. It's just not!

                                                                    1. re: greedygirl

                                                                      Don't get your knickers in a twist :)

                                                                      I'm not lecturing you, or saying that it is wrong to make the distinction. I'm just pointing out that common American usage doesn't. It's like the differences in our car terminology, with your 'foreign' words like 'boot', 'bonnet', 'petrol' and 'lorry'. :)

                                                                      While we do share a lot of traditions going back to the 17th c, this probably isn't one of them. I'm willing to speculate that a shepherds pie (with unspecified meat) came to our shores with the Irish immigration of the 19th c. I haven't seen anything in writing to support this, the timing seems to fit. For some reason British traditions like bubble and squeak and toad in the hole never became common in the USA, but shepherds pie in the beef version has.

                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                        Absolutely, paulj, I care not a jot what Americans choose to call their food and how they choose to make it. So, by all means, have shepherd's pie made with beef. It's the sort of quirky thing we love about Yanks :-)

                                                                        However, in the UK, these are traditional dishes - iconic of our cuisine. One's made with lamb, the other's made with beef. Full stop (or "period" if you prefer).

                                                                        1. re: Harters

                                                                          All of this breathless defense of the bastardisation of the term comes, by the way, from a culture that uses the term "French toast" and "French fries"...even though those terms don't exist (other than at McDonald's in the case of the latter) anywhere in the Francophone world.

                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                            How are those terms any worse than eggy bread or Gypsy toast. The full name for the fries (do you use that term?) is French-fried potatoes. At one time in the US, french-fried mean deep-fried.

                                                                            Of course the Brits never bastardize anything they borrow, do they? Except they did give the world curry powder!

                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                              "Of course the Brits never bastardize anything they borrow, do they?"

                                                                              Well, of course, we do. It comes from the days of Empire and then trying to recreate dishes back on our small cold island off the coast of Europe.

                                                                              I'm interested in your final sentence. Did we invent curry powder? I assume if we did then we'll have been trying recreate the sub-continent's garam masala. Maybe we just imported the already ready prepared masala and renamed it. But, keeping more to the specifics of this thread, I'm amused when I see "Indian" restaurants proclaiming themselves to be "authentic" and then serving, say, a rogan josh with chicken.

                                                                              (Fries? We only use the word to describe those that are the thin American style. Otherwise, they're chips.)

                                                                              1. re: paulj

                                                                                but that's the irony of it all...French fries never came from France!

                                                                                Deep-fried potatoes were brought to the US by soldiers returning home after WWI. They'd had the deep-fried potatoes in Belgium, but since them forriners were speaking French, the doughboys assumed that they had been in France.

                                                                                So French fries and French-fried has been a misnomer from Day 1.

                                                                                Eggy bread is descriptive...Gypsy toast is along the same line (but you'll not find much of it in the US, by the way).

                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                  I thought that for many years, sunshine. Recently I posted a thread asking what Americans had called them before this. Whilst I'm sure it's true that the Great War will have popularised them, there's evidence that a White House dinner from 1802 served "potatoes served in the French manner". Of course, there's nothing to indicate that this "manner" was what we know as fries - I guess it could have been any of the other French methods of preparing the spud, say, as a gratin dauphinoise. Although you can't rely on Wikipedia for accuracy, particularly as it rarely quotes original sources but, second-hand, it has mention that American cookbooks in the late 1850s were referring to "French fried potatoes". It's be interesting to establish if that's accurate.

                                                                                  1. re: Harters

                                                                                    I didn't get that from Wikipedia -- but I don't remember where I saw it.

                                                                                    I'm with you -- I'd sooner believe a White House dinner would have had dauphinoise or something similar (at least I'd hope so!)

                                                                                    I also wonder if "French fried" at that time might not have also referred to something like sarladaise -- where the taters are fried in duck fat.

                                                                                    We'll never know....

                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                      On topics like this, Wiki gets references from FoodTImeLIne, which is pretty careful about quotes.

                                                                                      Note that there are several theories about the 'French' name:
                                                                                      - country of origin (yes, I know about Belgium
                                                                                      )- method of cutting into strips (as in frenched green beans)
                                                                                      - method of frying (french-fried)

                                                                                      Yesterday I read some stuff about potatoes, including the Irish potato famine. Potatoes were not widely planted or eaten in Europe (and USA) until the 18c, and then only after prodding from kings and leaders like Thomas Jefferson. It turned out to be a miracle crop, giving a far more abundant and reliable harvest than grains, especially in war time.
                                                                                      Also healthier, with more vitamins than alternatives like corn.

                                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                                        However, as often, FoodTimeLine fails to quote original source material. All their relevent quotes on the subject are fairly modern (i.e. post 1918) references and, therefore, not helpful to discussion of this potato tangent discussion.

                                                                                        I do, however, spot one inaccuracy. They attribute the earliest reference to British "chips" to Oscar Wilde in 1876. However, the earliest fully documented reference I know is Mr Lees' shop selling fish & chips in the town of Mossley (about 20 minutes drive from here) in 1863 (Wikipedia quotes an ealrier reference in Dickens Tale of Two Cities which would make ealriest reference to 1859.)

                                                                      2. re: paulj

                                                                        I have no idea HOW I know this; I just do. I also agree with greedygirl btw.

                                                                    2. Look under Variations in the Wiki link:


                                                                      After reading that I think this thread should be locked. L. O. L.

                                                                      1. This thread made me laugh. I worked, many years ago, in a British pub in Ecuador (I'm American). I cannot tell you how many British travelers, before they said hi, ordered, anything would inform me "This isn't shepherd's pie on the menu, it's cottage pie, because it is beef". Drove me insane.

                                                                        13 Replies
                                                                        1. re: dagoose

                                                                          Avoid insanity by making it properly and/or calling it by its proper name. Easy as, ummm, pie.

                                                                          1. re: Will Owen

                                                                            Ah, but I was neither making nor eating it. I made $1/hr (it went a long way there) serving drunk brits crap food that was mostly made in the microwave. I think our menus had been printed a decade prior and nobody was ever going to change them.

                                                                            1. re: dagoose

                                                                              Ah-HA! The "I vas chust doink my chob" defense …

                                                                              No, no, understand completely. I've had a turn or two flogging stuff I would either never make myself or refuse to admit it if I did. But I am a bit prickly about naming things correctly, and gotten much more so ever since a generation of flaming yahoos started the fad of calling anything served in a martini glass a "martini".

                                                                            2. re: Will Owen

                                                                              Speaking of pie, in what way is shepherds pie a pie? Does the mashed potatoes some how transform into a pastry crust?

                                                                              In US, most dishes of this type are called casseroles (and there a plenty of variations)

                                                                              1. re: paulj

                                                                                "Pie" is an old-fashioned word meaning "untidy", among other things - "she flew in, her cap a-pie" meant that it was sitting cattywampus on her head. It also referred to any dish made of bits of this and that, then somehow given a common cover, usually a crust. In many very old pies the crust was only to hold in heat and moisture, and was not intended to be eaten, kind of like the salt-and-flour crust one can bake meats, fish or fowl in.

                                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                                  The potatoes don't transform into pastry, but they do get a golden crust.

                                                                                  "Pie" or "Tea" is also the slang, catchall British term for an informal evening meal -- dinner or supper to Americans.

                                                                              2. re: dagoose

                                                                                who travels that distance to eat food they eat at home? Maybe, just maybe if they opened their mind a little they may discover the Ecuadorians' version is better than the traditional. Just a thought.

                                                                                1. re: 02putt

                                                                                  LOADS of people don't travel for the food. So when they travel, why wouldn't they look/hope for what they're accutomed to?

                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                    I didn't say they travel for the food. What I said was you would think they would want to try something ethnic to the region that are visiting.

                                                                                    1. re: 02putt

                                                                                      Why? If they don't care about food, why would they want anything "different"? I have neighbors who've gotten big into cruising to warm places in the winter. Think Caribbean and Latin America. They were gone for a month last year and not once did they eat lunch in any of the ports. Not because they're cheap but because trying new foods is of no interest to them. Such is life.

                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                        Too each their own but I think they are robbing themselves. I've been on cruises and I must confess the amount and choices of food were overwhelming. But this is the best time to try something new. If it's new to me I'll try a little bit and go back for more or fore go it if I don't like it. I think the eel I had cured me of my curiousity about what they tasted like. It was delicious at the time but I could not get of the "eel" smell out of my skin. It was really strange really.

                                                                                        1. re: 02putt

                                                                                          But that's the point I'm making. YOU think they're robbing themselves. They're completely happy. That's only one reason we could never travel with them.

                                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                                            That's what I said but I also said to each their own. It's not like I'd pester them to try something. I also think anything you can do whether it has to do with cooking or not is an education.

                                                                              3. Yes, it always annoys me too.

                                                                                I've always thought a good alternative name for a pie made with beef would be "Cowboy Pie."

                                                                                And it isn't made with ground meat at all, but leftovers from a roast with the gravy forming the basis of the sauce.

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: JudiAU

                                                                                  like mentioned above, not all who raise beef are cowboys.

                                                                                  1. re: JudiAU

                                                                                    there are some references to cowboy pie, though the seasoning leans toward the SW chili, and doesn't necessarily use mashed potatoes.

                                                                                    There's another thread about a beef stew with biscuit topping. Tatertots are an alternative 'hot dish' topping. And I grew up with a 'wiener pie' - with sliced wieners instead of lamb, and cornbread instead of mashed.

                                                                                  2. So, as Americans call both a beef or lamb pie a Shepherds Pie, I assume it's therefore in the context of a protein topped with mashed potato. Would they then also call the same product made with fish a Shepherd's Pie? Serious question intended with we Brits having separate names for the beef and lamb and a third for the fish variety - we'd call it fish pie.

                                                                                    9 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: Harters

                                                                                      and only the French would then in turn call it "hachis parmentier" for both shepherd's and cottage pie...and brandade de morue for 'fish pie'.

                                                                                      I laughed out loud in the store when I figured out that "Hachis Parmentier" was just meat pie.

                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                        here in Quebec we just call it pate chinois which eliminates the shepherd and the cottage... plus it has canned cream corn.... :)

                                                                                        1. re: chickenbruiser

                                                                                          But that raises a further question - what does China have to do with a layered meat, corn and potatoes? Was it made by Chinese railway cooks? Or come from China Maine?

                                                                                          After reading about A Parnentier, I'm inclined to used the Hachis Parmentier name just to honor him, and to avoid offending any Brits with my misuse of shepherds/cottage pie. Looks as though the French allow some flexibility in preparing this dish, whether it be the fancy stuffed potato version or something more humble. Only problem is, I'm not sure how to pronounce the French. Maybe I should use a rough translation - French hash!

                                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                                            more or less -- ashees pahrmahnteeyay

                                                                                            They make it with confit de canard, too, which is as delicious as it sounds, though I've seen ham and fish, too (not at the same time!) I'm not a big fan of the fish, but I'll eat it.

                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                              Some years ago I bought Gourmet's Basic French Cookbook, which is based on the notes from Louis Diat, chef at the NY Ritz for 40 years (1910-50). That has a recipe for 'Hachis d'Agneau a' la Ritz' - lamb hash with potatoes a la Ritz.

                                                                                              He writes that during the depression they made a lot of hashes with leftovers, with different sauces, and various borders. Their Red Plate lunches were particularly popular.

                                                                                              This recipe looks fairly straight forward - gravy with diced left over lamb (or beef), creamy mashed potatoes, topping with grated cheese and bread crumbs.

                                                                                            2. re: paulj

                                                                                              I did look up a wikipedia definition that includes both your possible reasons, but I don't buy them... sounds like some bored academic's "brilliant" hypothesis...
                                                                                              my grandmother's explanation wasn't any better... she said the ingredients were layered upside down and since China was on the other side of the world it was also upside down...
                                                                                              but I tend to believe this one...

                                                                                              Alors? Une poignée de vieux livres de recettes publiés au début du siècle dernier au Québec pourraient bien remettre les pendules à l'heure. Le pâté chinois commence à y apparaître dans les années 1920, mais sous des traits qui nous sont peu familiers aujourd'hui. Pour cause. Il s'agit en fait d'un plat composé d'une couche de riz, d'une couche de viande hachée et d'une autre couche de riz, le tout passé au four. Ce riz, largement associé à la culture asiatique, donnerait du même coup un début d'explication sur l'étymologie du plat national.

                                                                                              Vraisemblablement une variante avec riz du Sherpherd's pie des Irlandais (un plat de deux étages fait de viande hachée recouverte d'une pâte, d'une purée de pommes de terre ou de riz, selon l'humeur), ce drôle de pâté chinois est d'ailleurs présenté sous l'appellation «pâté berger» dans Les Recettes de madame curé, une compilation des vieilles recettes de presbytères faite par Pierrette Baudouin en 1995 (Éditions Logique). Le Cercle des fermières du Québec le présente dans ses publications sous le nom de «pâté chinois au riz».

                                                                                              essentially it says that the dish was originally made with rice instead of potato... thus the association of rice with asian cooking... in other recipes it was made with rice or potato or both... but today it is made with potato.

                                                                                              ... nobody in quebec says hachis parmentier unless they are originally from france

                                                                                              1. re: chickenbruiser

                                                                                                It's curious that the google translator renders this dish "The Chinese block"

                                                                                                In Alaska there's a salmon pie that uses layers of rice, cabbage and eggs, but that is traced back to Russia.

                                                                                                I made a cottage pie (to use the British term) over the weekend. Vegetables included king trumpet mushrooms (a nice meaty mushroom) and frozen corn (I didn't have any green peas in the freezer). I didn't use a lot of corn, but it added a nice texture contrast. There were some lentils as well, but they did not stand out.

                                                                                                The potato crust had some flour and egg to give some body, and a generous grating of Comte. Over all a tasty and well received dish.

                                                                                            3. re: chickenbruiser

                                                                                              Wow you learn something everyday. Being a fellow Canuck I always thought Touriere was Quebec's version of Shepherd's Pie. Made with a crust as opposed to mash potatoes. (I apologize I haven't quite mastered the accents on the keyboard yet)

                                                                                        2. I for one am perfectly happy to make the "Shepherds is lamb, Cottage is beef" distinction.
                                                                                          However, I also (and I think most Americans would agree) believe that a hamburger is just beef - anything mixed in, and it's meatloaf - not necessarily bad, just not hamburger.
                                                                                          Personally, I'd rather focus my efforts on debating with the clueless people not from the eastern coast of the US about what a pizza is.

                                                                                          1. I'm all about saying what you mean and meaning what you say however, I beg to differ that "the only meat in Shepherd's Pie is LAMB",

                                                                                            My ancestors are British and we have a Shepherd's pie recipe in our family that dates back to the 1880's. We also have Shepherd's in our family. Shepherd's Pie, as it was explained to me, was born of the need to provide the Shepherd's with sustenance after their long days on the moors. Pies were made from leftover bits of any roast and vegetables from the day(s) prior. As it was explained to me, Shepherd's Pie originated because the pie was "consumed by" Shepherd's not "made by" them or "solely" with the fruits of their labours.

                                                                                            Below is a link to an excerpt from "The Practice of Cookery and Pastry, by I. Williamson, 1862" which supports this account:


                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                              Nice find with that theoldfoodie link. It refers to a Shepherds pie recipe from an 1862 Scottish cookbook (which foodtimeline needs to add to its quotes).
                                                                                              That book is available on Google books
                                                                                              The recipe is in a section of meat pies, most of them using a conventional pastry crust.
                                                                                              I'm a little surprised how few recipes there are in this book for potatoes.

                                                                                              Shepherd's Pie.
                                                                                              Take cold dressed meat of any kind, roast or boiled, slice it, break the bones, and put them on with a little boiling water, and a little salt, boil them until you have extracted all the strength from them, and reduced it to very little, and strain it. Season the sliced meat with pepper and salt, lay it in a baking dish, pour in the sauce you strained, and add a little mushroom ketchup. Have some potatoes boiled and nicely mashed, cover the dish with the potatoes, smooth it on the top with a knife, notch it round the edge and mark it on the top the same as paste. Bake it in an oven, or before the fire, until the potatoes are a nice brown.
                                                                                              The Practice of Cookery and Pastry, by I. Williamson, 1862

                                                                                              1. re: paulj

                                                                                                The earliest British reference to "cottage pie" that I can find is 1791. References to "shepherd's pie" come much later. I'd suggest that this was due to the increasing codification of recipes in the early Victorian era, as cookbooks became more common. Clearly one would only need to codify recipes for different dishes with different names. I'm certainly content, therefore, that in its native land, the cottage and shepherds pies have been seen as different dishes for over 150 years - one made with beef, the other with lamb.

                                                                                                1. re: Harters

                                                                                                  Though that 1791 reference does not specify what meat was in the pie.


                                                                                                  I agree that at some point, someone codified the distinction, but when and where that was is hard to say. I doubt if a highland shepherd's wife (after the clearances?) told her husband, 'We are having your pie tonight, using Sundays mutton roast', or 'since the leftovers are beef, it's to cottage's pie'. Please correct me on this, but I don't think any of the 19c cookbooks have recipes for both cottage pie and shepherds pie. If so the codification could have been a 20c attempt to explain why there were two names for a similar dish.

                                                                                                  And while the dish had its origin in England sometime around 1800, it was known in the USA by the middle of the 19c.

                                                                                                  I suspect pub debates had more to do with solidifying the distinction than cookbook authors or cottage cooks.

                                                                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                                                                    I'm relying on Wikipedia here (as I can't be arsed to do any more detailed research) which gives the 1870s as the time when shepherd's pie was named separately from cottage pie. So I assume that, certainly by that time, there were two distinct dishes in existance to be codified.

                                                                                                    Of course, it makes sense that a recipe being included in a cookbook would be much later than the general existance of a dish. Cookbooks in the late 19th cnetury were for the employed cook working in a household and not, in practical terms, for the mistress of the household. I presume that, at least initially, the cook would have prepared it from leftovers as a "staff meal", rather than a meal for the family. .

                                                                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                                                                      Ahgast...don't let a Scot hear you say that!

                                                                                              2. another Brit here chiming in with the distinction that Shepherd's Pie is lamb and Cottage Pie is beef. I remember my dad correcting me circa 1962 when I told him what was for dinner as he walked in the door.

                                                                                                1. My husband's best friend "made dinner" for us the other night. He called it Shepherd's Pie.

                                                                                                  He browned ground beef, added a JAR of gravy (I didn't even know that gravy came in jars!), some frozen veggies, poured it into a casserole, grated some cheddar cheese over the top, and smeared instant mashed potatoes over the top of everything and baked it.

                                                                                                  I made a comment about not knowing that shepherd's pie could be made with beef. His response was "Yeah, thats how my mom always made it." No point in arguing.

                                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: LaureltQ

                                                                                                    i'd say there was more to quibble with about that dinner than the naming of it!

                                                                                                    ( :

                                                                                                    1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                      You made me snort, maria! But, ya know, I bet it didn't taste bad and nice of him to cook, huh?

                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                        coulda been worse -- everything in it is at least recognizable as actual food.

                                                                                                        Better than slapping down a TV dinner or something that came through a window in a bag.

                                                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                                                            all of which would be TV dinners.

                                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                          I agree HE cooked for you. Be thankful your husband has friends that are willing to make that effort whether he is a beginner or gourmet chef makes no difference. And who doesn't know gravy comes in a can? Whether you use it or not is not the point. Lots of things come in cans.

                                                                                                    2. Wow.. you people really get riled up over names. I'm still going to call anything that uses the technique a shepherd's pie because I don't want to have to explain what a cottage pie or a cowboy pie is. If it is lamb or beef or pork. Ooh! that sounds good, especially if it had mexican spices in it.

                                                                                                      Would we have to call it Speedy Gonzales pie? After someone from another thread called something "Sunshine vagina sandwich", I figure we can call it anything.

                                                                                                      That reminds me, I have found that the mashed potatoes have a tendency to mask the spices in the stew. Has anyone else had to raise the level of the spices in the stew to counteract the mashed potatoes? I assume it is because of the added fat and starch.

                                                                                                      12 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                        Hey, this is traditional British food! No spices are allowed :) I suppose some L&P would be ok with the lamb.

                                                                                                        Actually I was wondering about using a lamb keema as the base. The web shows me that I wasn't the first to think of Keema (shepherds) pie.

                                                                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                                                                          Ok, it's British. We could put a bunch of dill in it. It wouldn't be bland and would still be British, right?

                                                                                                          Besides, at one time the sun never set on the British Empire so almost anything could be called British.

                                                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                                                            I see another repetition of the fallacy of "no spices" in British traditional dishes. Well, of course, on our small cold island we can't grow the exotic spices - but we have a long tradition of importing them. It was one of the significant trades of Empire. Many of the heavily spiced dishes of the Elizabethean era are no longer fashionable but the use of the "exotics" best remain in our baking - particularly cakes and hot puddings.

                                                                                                            However, returning to shepherds pie, I think we're agreed that this was originally a frugal dish not made by the wealthy. As such, as to any dish, flavourings would have traditionally been what herbs we can grow locally - mint, parsley, marjoram, sage, rosemary, thyme, etc. Of course, these are the herbs that still feature most prominently in modern British cooking.

                                                                                                            1. re: Harters

                                                                                                              Traditional British food (if well-prepared, of course!) is not only nicely seasoned, but can be some of the most deeply soul-satisfying comfort food in existence. The finest lamb chops I've ever had anywhere in the world were in Runcorn, of all places -- and I still can wax poetic about a chicken and leek pie I enjoyed in some nameless ancient pub somewhere in East Hants on an icy, snowy day.

                                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                You're right! Runcorn's not a town known for its gastronomy :-0

                                                                                                                1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                  and it was at the resto in the Holiday Inn, no less...I was staying there on business. I had a meeting in Doncaster, and I was shattered and in no mood whatsoever to venture out to find dinner -- so I ate at the restaurant there in the hotel, and was shocked, but delighted to have such a fabulous meal. The wine list was quite good, too..this has been about 10 years ago, so I have no idea if it's still there or not.

                                                                                                            2. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                              traditional Shepherd's pie does tend to be a bit bland with the exception of salt overkill as with a lot of other traditional British dishes compared to today's abundance and variety of spices we can obtain and cook with. But being of Scottish heritage from both sides and the first non born Scot in the family I can assure you you don't mess with their traditions. I have tried to "update" the traditional recipe but must agree with my parents...my nanny's recipe is the best. I still cut way back on the salt but the individual can add it at the table. Trust me we ate this every Tuesday growing up. I still crack up when I think of when my mom use to say we are having mince and tatties for a change. Mince and tatties is basically dissected shepherd's pie. Oh and one other thing...don't ever let an Englishman tell you it is a English dish. You would be asking for trouble if a Scot heard you.

                                                                                                              1. re: 02putt

                                                                                                                Was the Tuesday pie made with left overs from the Sunday roast?

                                                                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                  probably, like a true Scot nothing ever went to waste in our parents' house. I put it down to the great depression and then WWII. My parents were from Greenock which was a major ship building town and had the crap bombed out it on a regular basis. So any food was put to all possible uses.

                                                                                                                2. re: 02putt

                                                                                                                  Speaking Scottish recipes, I just tried
                                                                                                                  Aberdeenshire Parkin. Parkin is a Yorkshire gingerbread using at least half oats. This Scottish variation makes a stiffer dough that is baked as cookies (to use the American term); closer to the American oatmeal cookie except that it uses English/Scottish oats (finer than cut oats) instead of rolled ones, and is sweetened primarily with molasses.

                                                                                                                  At least I think Bobs Red Mill Scottish Oats
                                                                                                                  are similar to the 'Scotts porage oats' in the parkin recipe

                                                                                                              2. And that, Billy33, is why I never order shepherd's pie in an American restaurant. It is almost always beef because beef is cheaper. At home, however, I make it properyl (and often), with lamb.

                                                                                                                It's very easy to find lamb around here.

                                                                                                                8 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                                  If it was called cottage pie, would you order it? Or is there no such thing as a good cottage pie?

                                                                                                                  If I sound skeptical about the distinction between lamb and beef in a pie like this, it's because I don't think there's anything particularly special about lamb. I've cooked my share, and like the meat, but am not a fan of its fat. My favorite use for lamb (and goat) is bony pieces in a stew with Indian or Latino flavors.

                                                                                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                    It's a matter of not being disappointed because you ordered something, and it's not what it's supposed to be.

                                                                                                                    Sort of like ordering seared tuna and getting a slab of frozen cod. Frozen cod has its place, but not when its labeled as tuna.

                                                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                      actually it's more like ordering hash browns and getting home fries. Similar but different.

                                                                                                                      1. re: smartie

                                                                                                                        Actually, no. More like the tuna/cod. Except for both of them being red meat, they're not similar. They taste nothing alike. If I ordered a lamb shank and got osso buco, I would be quite unhappy and would NOT find them at all similar.

                                                                                                                      2. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                        Where is that kind of unlabeled substitution common? Company canteens in the UK? British or Irish themed gastropubs in the USA? Minnesota church potluck?

                                                                                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                          Unlikely to be substitution in British canteens - as we Brits keep saying on this thread, we have two distinct dishes. If a canteen couldnt get lamb and used beef instead, they wouldnt still call it shepherd's pie, they'd call it cottage pie. Simples.

                                                                                                                      3. re: paulj

                                                                                                                        You mistake me for a snob, I think. To me, there is a big difference in flavor between lamb and beef. I've actually made some of my lamb dishes with beef when that was all I had, and everyone complained.

                                                                                                                        Don't get me wrong--I like beef and would probably like cottage pie if that was what I was expecting, but in a dish where I expect to taste lamb, it would seem a bit off to me. Seeing the name "shepherd's pie" on a menu and not getting lamb would be disappointing.

                                                                                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                          Yes, paulj, I'd order a cottage pie - if I felt like in the mood for a beef dish.

                                                                                                                      4. From Cooking Alaskan, 1983, Fairbanks
                                                                                                                        Shepherd's Pie
                                                                                                                        - Prepare leftover shoulder roast of caribou or raindeer by cutting it into medium-sized pieces. Simmer with vegetables ... thicken .. Arrange in a casserole. Pile mashed potatoes on top ...

                                                                                                                        Meat Pie with Potato Crust
                                                                                                                        ... saute onions Mix in the gameburger... add seasoning including a bit of ground chili pepper... spread half the mixture ... slice hard cooked eggs over this ... add remaining meat, leftover masthed potatoes ...
                                                                                                                        p 256

                                                                                                                        The inclusion of eggs in this last recipe may be borrowed from a salmon pie popular in Alaska, a Russian derived Peroche (layered rice, eggs, cabbage, and fish in a pie crust).

                                                                                                                        This doesn't say thing about proper British useage; it just illustrates casual American usage that may go back a century.

                                                                                                                        1. okay... kitchen nightmares (some restaurant in New Jersey) episode and "shepherd's pie" was served with beef... he says " That's not Shepherd's pie that's cottage pie..."

                                                                                                                          case closed... cause what ramsey says... goes ;)

                                                                                                                          12 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: chickenbruiser

                                                                                                                              Did the change (correcting the name or the ingredients) improve sales? Turn it into a popular stop for British tourists?

                                                                                                                              1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                Why would a British tourist visiting New Jersey seek out something like cottage (or shepherd's) pie? It'd be odd.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                  I think paulj was speaking facetiously.

                                                                                                                                  Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                    I seem to find it difficult to tell.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                    they do in spain! see all the tourists looking for their English brekkies, and when were were in Marmaris Turkey about 15 years ago you could barely move for Indian restaurants. A massive billboard told us that 'We are the best Indian restaurant in Marmaris. Famous chef from Sheffield'!!!

                                                                                                                                    1. re: smartie

                                                                                                                                      OMG, what a memory that evokes. We were in/on Costa del Sol (Southern Spain) some years ago. Found a just amazing deal. I'd never go back. It was ridiculous trying to find Spanish food for all the English, German etc. restaurants. I got the feeling that that part of Spain was definitely not for the adventurous eater. We prevailed but walked miles in the process.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                        I love the Costa del Sol - and it's easy to find Spanish food. You just move back a street or two from the tourist crowds to where the Spaniards live. Or, better, surf the local discussion boards, even if most contributors are other north Europeans - many of us like Spanish food and good local restaurants and that's where you'll find the recommendations (not on a mainly American site like Chowhound).

                                                                                                                                        Now, I grant you, parts of Tenerife can be a bit of a challenge. Not impossible, as we find every year, but a bit of a challenge.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                          We were in Torremolinos, west of Malaga. Large building, we had a studio apartment. Came with two meals a day and we rarely had anything other than breakfast. We mostly had lunch and dinner out but sometimes bought groceries and cooked which was totally shocking the most of the other people that we met. We would walk a mile or so east (I'm guessing on the distance) and, yes, find Spanish food. But we rented a car for a few days and went to Jerez area, Sevilla and Ronda where we did enjoy the food a lot more. Next time to Spain I'm heading to Barcelona, Bob's favorite city in the world which I haven't visited.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                            Ah, yes, Torremolinos is very much a tourist resort - probably the most touristy place on the Costa.

                                                                                                                                            I like Barca as well. It's a good "long weekend" sort of place for us (although amongst the Catalan speaking cities, I prefer Palma de Mallorca)

                                                                                                                                      2. re: smartie

                                                                                                                                        paulj's post raises an interesting point about tourism in general and, of course, more specifically, food whilst overseas.

                                                                                                                                        Something in excess of 90% of British tourists to America are visiting either Florida, Las Vegas or New York City. Therefore, to be visiting anywhere in New Jersey, the Briton would be a reasonably intrepid traveller. That said, I doubt whether there are many British tourists who would find American food to be "foreign", unfamiliar, scary, or challenging that they would want to seek out a cottage (or shepherd's) pie on their short visit

                                                                                                                                        By way of very similar restrictive tourism, a read through Chowhound's UK/Ireland board shows that very few American tourists visit anywhere in our two countries other than London. Similarly, they don't seem to be scared by our food.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                          There was a recent Top Gear episode when the guys drove from Florida to NY, though they managed to pass from Pennsylvania Amish country to the Big Apple without a stop in NJ for cottage pie.

                                                                                                                                2. I just bought an inexpensive Hemes House picture cookbook of 'Traditional British Cooking'.

                                                                                                                                  Someone needs to contact their editors. The Shepherd's Pie recipe calls for '500g lean chuck steak, minced'

                                                                                                                                  A few pages later there's a recipe for 'Farmhouse Venison Pie', similar but using minced venison, and a potato and parsnip mash.

                                                                                                                                  the Lancashire Hotpot uses lamb chops and kidneys, topped with a neat layer of sliced potato.

                                                                                                                                  In the fish section there's Fish Pie - also with a potato mash topping. Why isn't it called Fisherman's pie? No stargazy pie recipe, though. :(

                                                                                                                                  And why is the Squab pie recipe in the meat section?

                                                                                                                                  16 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                    At a guess, if it has a dish using "squab", then I'd suggest that this might be an edition for the North American market and that might explain things. "Squab" isnt a word used in British English - we'd usually call them pigeons. By the by, in what chapter do you think a pigeon/squab pie might be better suited? Surely "meat" seems appropriate - what with it being "meat". No?

                                                                                                                                    And you've lost me about our iconic regional dish of Hotpot. It isn't a pie and is never suggested to be one. Think a very long cooked dish, similar to Irish stew, scouse or lobscows - although one with sliced potatoes on top. My mum always used to make it with scrag end chops.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                      The recipe for Squab pie calls for lamb and apples, no birds. Given the name I thought it should be under poultry rather than meat. Turns out, it is an endangered British dish. You apparently are one the 97% of British youths who have not tasted it! :)
                                                                                                                                      It's a SW England classic (with older references than the shepherd's pie), that may at one time contained squab/pigeon, but no longer does.

                                                                                                                                      "Of all the west country pies, squab pie is, in our humble estimation, the most incongruous and the most detestable. The odious composition is made of fat clumsy mutton chops, embedded in layers of sliced apples, shredded onions, and — O tempora! O mores! — brown sugar! The result is nausea, unsociability, and, in course of time, hatred of the whole human race. The greasy sugary, oniony taste is associated, in our mind, with the detested name of Bideford.
                                                                                                                                      —Charles Dickens & Wilkie Collins, All the Year Round"

                                                                                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                        It is kind of you to refer to me as a "youth".

                                                                                                                                        But you're right, I'm not nearly as well informed about traditional dishes from the south west as I am about those from the north west

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                          I was amused by the story of why the devil never visited Cornwall. He'd heard they put anything in a pie!

                                                                                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                            That's nothing! General Sheridan of U.S. Civil War fame (or as us southerners refer to it "the war of northern Aggression") has been quoted as saying: "if I owned Texas and Hell, I would live in Hell and rent Texas out."

                                                                                                                                      2. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                        From a BBC Are you being served? episode:

                                                                                                                                        In the canteen:
                                                                                                                                        Mr Humphries: I'm drinking coffee to get rid the taste of this cottage pie
                                                                                                                                        Mrs Slocombe: When did it start ...
                                                                                                                                        Mr Humphries: I think as yesterday's Lancashire Hotpot
                                                                                                                                        Mrs Slocombe: no I mean ...

                                                                                                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                          ...because a 30-year-old slapstick sitcom is such a pinnacle of culinary wisdom.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                            OK, I'm so worn down by all these references paulj keeps digging up, I'm now prepared to accept that shepherd's pie is mainly made with beef and that it's an aberration to make it with lamb. In fact, as the quote he now gives, even Lancashire Hotpot must always be made with beef and not lamb. Calling anything cottage pie is just a modern affectation. OK?

                                                                                                                                            And, on that bombshell, I've wasted enough of my life with this thread and I'm done here.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                              I think you've hit the nail on the head with this one, sunshine842.

                                                                                                                                              However, the gross bastardization of an original is hardly unique to shepherd's pie. Think of the evolution of Pizza Napolitano to Chicago style (one is a flatbread, the other is a casserole).

                                                                                                                                              For those who take such things seriously, calling the Chicago creation "pizza" would likely be as confusing (or even offensive) to trained pizzaiolos, yet millions of Chicagoans swear by it. It all has to to with your perspective, how you grew up, and whether you're familiar with (and/or care to know) only your little slice of history, or whether you are interested in a slightly wider perspective..

                                                                                                                                              For example, someone born in Chicago has the "proud tradition" of Pizzeria Uno in the 1940's/1950's to look back on as having sparked the modern fast food pizza industry, whereas someone from Napoli has thousands of years of Italian, Roman and Greek history to base their proud traditions upon.

                                                                                                                                              So, to the "Who cares, let's eat" crowd, none of this matters. That's the real divide here that's causing the whole kerfuffle.

                                                                                                                                              Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                actually, I hadn't thought about it that way, but (here's where heads start to spin) -- a Chicago deep-dish pizza isn't really all that far gone from a British meat pie.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                  I have no problems with the British distinction between shepherds pie and cottage pie. I do have problems with the idea the American usage is a (recent) bastardization.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                    If lamb is the eponymous ingredient, then how is American shepherd's pie not a bastardization? Remember, shepherds herd sheep, not cows... it's cowboys that wrangle cattle, and their herding methods are quite different!

                                                                                                                                                    Consider this scenario. Imagine you're in a new restaurant order a pepperoni pizza but are served a pizza with sausage. You tell the server, "I didn't order sausage pizza." The server argues that pepperoni is, in fact, sausage.

                                                                                                                                                    Would you not consider this a bastardization of a favorite American dish?

                                                                                                                                                    Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                      I discussed those naming issues in earlier posts (cottage = beef??).

                                                                                                                                                      One new piece of information - I found a reference to fisherman's pie (fish with the mash potato topping). Elsewhere that is called fish pie.

                                                                                                                                                      Regarding your pepperoni example - what would you get if you ordered that in Italy?

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                        This is a straw man argument, paulj!

                                                                                                                                                        This conversation is about bastardized versions of of dishes where the same name carried over (beef shepherds pie and Chicago style pizza), whereas your pepperoni/peperoni example is about two entirely different items which have been given similar names. It's like the Mexican tortilla vs. Spanish tortilla. One is not a bastardized version of the other... they've just been given similar names (wikipedia says "tortilla" roughly means "cake", so under that broad definition it is understandable how the name could have been given to both items independently.)

                                                                                                                                                        So, with that out of the way, could you address the real issue? Would you consider a "pepperoni pizza" topped with sausage a bastardization of a dish that you have traditionally come to know in our culture? Or would you be happy receiving one thing when you had ordered the other?

                                                                                                                                                        Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                          From what I've learned here, someone going into a British pub has every reason to expect lamb in his shepherds pie. The same person going into a British or Irish themed pub in the USA might find lamb, but shouldn't be too upset if it was made with ground beef. It would be unrealistic to expect lamb in the 'shepherds pie' at a midwestern church potluck. And equally unrealistic to expect anyone to know what you mean when you label your contribution a cottage pie.

                                                                                                                                                          I mentioned squab pie as an example of a British dish that doesn't exactly match the name (it is made with lamb and apples). Another thread reminds me of another dish that has evolved away from its name roots - mince meat pie (on both sides of the Atlantic).

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                            In a roundabout way (by invoking a direct comparison with mincemeat pie) you're acknowledging my very point, although where I say "bastardized", you say "evolved".

                                                                                                                                                            Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                        2. An interesting source on historical foods, with focus on UK and Ireland

                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                            Melton Mowbray pork pie looks like an interesting pie - a hot water crust is baked freeform (without a mold) with a pork filling. After baking warm pork jelly (a highly gelatinous pork stock) is poured in. It, along with the Cornish Pasty now has EU protection.

                                                                                                                                            Here's a cottage pie with guinness

                                                                                                                                            For supper I used the rest of the ground beef mixture that I'd made Sunday. This time I baked it in a Korean bibimbap bowl, and topped it with tattertots instead of mashed potatoes. And corn as distinct layer between meat and potatoes (still no creamed corn).

                                                                                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                              Yes, we have over 50 products now either with one of the forms of geographical recognition or it's been applied for. Ireland has 4.

                                                                                                                                              By comparision, France has over 220, Germany 100, Cyprus 3.

                                                                                                                                              Keeping this on vaguely on-topic, shepherds pie would not get protection as it is not a regional product in the way that the Cornish pasty is (although there was a lot of disagreement about the award from the trade body representing pasty makers in neighbouring Devon)

                                                                                                                                          2. I come to this late, having picked up its existence while searching for a related issue. The difference between people who accept beef in a shepherd's pie, and those who insist it can only be sheepmeat is not a pond difference. There are plenty of British people who make their own using leftovers of either beef or sheepmeat. I suspect the difference is an age related one. Older people making their own would have no problems with beef. People sourcing their pies from supermarkets or restaurants would have picked up on the distinction between the two names, where it would be essential for commercial reasons.
                                                                                                                                            I have checked in recipe books, the most recent a Good Housekeeping one from just after the war, the older a Scottish one, the meat was not specified, and there was no recipe for cottage pie, or a reference to its being a variation.
                                                                                                                                            I use my mother's recipe, which she had from her mother, who was born at the end of the 19th century, and who lived on a farm, and which used whatever leftover meat there was, minced in our kitchen with a mincer. My great grandfather on my father's side, who actually was a shepherd in Sussex, unfortunately did not pass a recipe down. We had the dish on Tuesday, having had cold meat on Monday (no cooking because of the laundry).
                                                                                                                                            Growing up, the dish was part of school meals in Kent, and the kitchens used beef, stretched with baked beans (navy beans in tomato sauce).
                                                                                                                                            I was pleased to see a link to a reference to the use of sliced waxy potatoes resembling roofing on cottages - my mother told me this, but I have not seen it confirmed anywhere else before.
                                                                                                                                            I've never had the dish with pork - we didn't have a fridge, and I think there was a feeling that pork should not be kept.
                                                                                                                                            Shepherds did not own the flocks they cared for. As someone has said, neonatally dead lambs, maybe. Tails and male lambs' bits, possibly. They would have perhaps been given a lamb at some time in the year as a payment. It would not have been a dish any more frequent than for other people.
                                                                                                                                            Shepherd's Pie is what the maker makes it with. There is not enough Historical substance for being didactic about. If American usage now varies from the generality of younger British usage, It is probably, like Appalachian folk music, closer to the original.

                                                                                                                                            13 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: Peneli

                                                                                                                                              In traditional British cooking, pork left over from the Sunday roast would be minced and usually be turned into rissoles, rather than a version of cottage/shepherds pie.

                                                                                                                                              In terms of the descriptions - this link notes that "shepherds pie" appears in print in the late 19th century, whilst "cottage pie" (using beef) dates to 1791. http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandsty...

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                You cited the 1791 use earlier. I responded with http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7653...

                                                                                                                                                is the current link to 'cottage pie' at janeausten.co.uk

                                                                                                                                                The 1791 quote is '“Dinner to day, Cottage-Pye and rost Beef.”' Was the beef part of the pye or served with it?

                                                                                                                                                Actually there are multiple mentions of Cottage-Pye in the parson's diary

                                                                                                                                                'Dinner today, boiled pork and cottage pye'
                                                                                                                                                'Dinner today, a boiled pike & cottage pye'
                                                                                                                                                'cottage pye, tripe, fine roast pheasant'
                                                                                                                                                'cottage pye, neck of mutton, roasted'
                                                                                                                                                'pigeon pye' was mentioned more often.

                                                                                                                                                And an unrelated mention of an Apple Pye Bed :)

                                                                                                                                                No mention of what was in 'cottage pye'.

                                                                                                                                                A nice summary of the parson's diary and times

                                                                                                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                  Thanks for the observation about my earlier remarks. When a thread is 3 years old, I really can't be arsed to check every comment I've made on it. Means I can end up repeating myself.

                                                                                                                                                  In the 1791 quotation, dinner included two separate dishes. Middle class meals right up to the early 20th century would usually involve more than one savoury dish. Two at dinner (then the meal in the middle of the day) would be about right. Tended to become more dishes when dinner became the evening meal. I'm afraid I don't have too much research knowledge about 18th century food - my area of expertise is food in Edwardian Britain.

                                                                                                                                                  I've just re-read my post on the other thread, your response and my follow-up to that. My views havnt changed since then - clear evidence of two separate dishes for the last 150 years. And, as I'm sure I've said on some thread or another, the distinction is only relevent in the UK, it is irrelevent to our culture how foreigners want to describe a dish.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                    Was "Arsed" a misspelling or joke? Either way, funny!

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: chefj

                                                                                                                                                      that's entirely the correct usage and the correct spelling.

                                                                                                                                                      "I can't be arsed" means "I can't be bothered"

                                                                                                                                                      "Arse" is commonly substituted for "ass", particularly in the northern part of the UK where Harters lives.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                        My point
                                                                                                                                                        Just like saying De Nalgas instead of De Nada in Spanish

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: chefj

                                                                                                                                                        I didnt use "arsed" as a joke, nor did I mispell.

                                                                                                                                                        In British English, "arse" is what Americans call an "ass". In British English, "ass" is only ever another word for donkey. I'd advise Americans visiting my country to be aware of the difference and, therefore, the context in which they use "ass". It could otherwise lead to interesting confusions.

                                                                                                                                                        I believe that fellow Anglophones in Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa follow British practice

                                                                                                                                                        To not be arsed is, as sunshine points out, to be not bothered/concerned/fussed about something.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                          I get that but there no doubt that it origin was from "Arse" and it is considered a vulgar / semi vulgar term. and still gets a chuckle from me.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: chefj

                                                                                                                                                            I wonder how the difference evolved. In the UK you call an idiot an arse or arsehole. In the US was ass the polite revision of this term or that you call idiots donkeys?

                                                                                                                                                            In the UK I assume "can't be arsed" derives from "I can't be bothered to get up off my arse (backside) to carry out that task". So a slightly different meaning to the insult.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: PhilD

                                                                                                                                                              I do not think that Arsed is used as an insult but your thoughts on how it evolved sounds totally feasible to me.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: chefj

                                                                                                                                                                At a slight tangent, do Canadians use "ass" or "arse"? Then we can have a complete set of English usage.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                  I think they use Ass, I do not remember my friends from "The U.S. 'S Hat" using Arse. Only those from the UK

                                                                                                                                                2. re: Peneli

                                                                                                                                                  Thank you for this, very enlightening.

                                                                                                                                                3. Here is Keith Richards Shepherd's Pie and guess what. Beef not lamb. And he should know.


                                                                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: lastZZ

                                                                                                                                                    From the Man who said:
                                                                                                                                                    “I’m Sagittarius, half-man, half-horse, with a license to s--- in the street.”

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: lastZZ

                                                                                                                                                      Why should he know anymore than anyone else....? You never know he could be really pissed off with all the bad recipes with beef but he has given up trying to educate the caterers.....

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: lastZZ

                                                                                                                                                        That recipe looks like it was made by someone with dead tastebuds.
                                                                                                                                                        Dude, spices are good!

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: lastZZ

                                                                                                                                                          Keith Richards should know what? why?

                                                                                                                                                          His life has been a lot of examples of things he doesn't seem to know.....

                                                                                                                                                        2. In Quebec, where it is practically a national dish, it is ground beef, kernel corn and mashed potato topping. But the original British Isles dish was indeed made with lamb.

                                                                                                                                                          1. Greetings from the United States, where two small portions of ground lamb cost, at my local market, about US$6.00. Enough ground (minced) lamb to make a shepherd's pie would cost between $20 and $30, much too costly for a family meal. Beef is more reasonable in cost for us. My English stepfather remembered a childhood staple being the Sunday "joint" of roast lamb returned to the table on Monday with its missing portions replaced by mashed potato, baked brown in the oven. That sounds delicious too but lamb is a luxury meat for us. Sorry that bugs you. It bugs us too.

                                                                                                                                                            11 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                                                              Its the same the world over. So make a Cottage Pie with minced beef.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: PhilD

                                                                                                                                                                And then when your family or customers ask, 'what is cottage pie?', you say, 'it's just like shepherd's pie, but with beef instead of cold mutton.' 'Where did you learn that, Coronation Street?'.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                  Nah, you wouldnt get anything about Cottage/Shepherds pie from Coronation Street. But here's the recipe for Betty's Hotpot - a dish only ever made with lamb/mutton.


                                                                                                                                                                  Slightly more fancy than the version Mum used to make

                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                                                                How much are you paying a pound for ground lamb?

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                                  Lamb & beef prices in the UK are fairly similar - £8 per kg for minced lamb and £9 per kg for beef, currently at my usual supermarket.

                                                                                                                                                                  That said, I wouldnt usually buy beef at the supermarket, preferring to buy higher welfare products direct from the farm. I'd also usually buy lamb and mutton there as well but sheep are pretty much free-range so I don't have the same ethical concerns about a supermarket product.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                    ground beef in America is about 4-5$ per lb. Ground lamb is usually a special item you must ask for and depending on what scraps etc they have on hand they might grind you some. Maybe 6-7-8$/lb

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: lastZZ

                                                                                                                                                                      So, if I've done my double conversion correctly on your higher figures, that's about £6 per kg for beef and £10 for lamb.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                        We're in the promised land! It's not pasture raised or whatnot, however. Just meat, period.

                                                                                                                                                                        Luckily my local store serves a lot of "ethnic" customers so they do usually have ground lamb on hand.

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                                                                  How much lamb are you using - when I make a shepherds pie for a meal 500g (1lb) is enough). So $20 to $30 of meat sounds like a very big dish

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: PhilD

                                                                                                                                                                    I use 2 lbs, and it usually costs $5 or $6 per lb. $20 to $30 sounds like a lot to me too.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                                      This thread inspired me to make a cottage pie last night. I used the Cook's Illustrated "Shepherd's Pie" recipe from 2011 and it turned out magnificently well.

                                                                                                                                                                      The recipe called for 1.5 lbs (680 kg) of extra lean (93%) ground beef which is then treated with baking soda, salt and water so it stays incredibly tender, without any of the grease associated with fattier meat.

                                                                                                                                                                      I bought a high quality, freshly ground meat from a local butcher and it cost $4.29/lb. (They charge $3.99 for approx. 85% lean). You can get it much more cheaply from the supermarket, but I'm not a big fan of the pink slime.

                                                                                                                                                                      Mr Taster