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When Shepherd's Pie is on the Menu in the UK...

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What do you expect the dish to contain? What meat prepared how plus what other ingredients. Is your definition of a Shepherd's Pie strict or can there be variations? Thanks.

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  1. Shepherds pie is lamb with a topping of mashed potato. As for how it's prepared, you can probably get away with any kind of lamb. Normally it's minced, but I think it would work equally well with shredded shoulder.

    1. It is quite simple, the two main ingredients are minced lamb with a mashed potato top, if you use beef it becomes a cottage pie. That said most "Shepherd's Pies" on UK menus and in shops these days are misnamed using beef not lamb. Lamb is quite expensive (compared to cheap beef) and restaurants that serve Shepherd's Pie usually do it to a strict price point.

      Obviously the mash may have butter and salt etc, although I would say don't add milk as it will loosen it too much. With the mince I would say salt and pepper, some onions that have been melted in a frying pan. Some people may add diced/sliced carrots, others some tomatoes or tomato puree, but I believe the more "optional" ingredients you addd the less pure the dish becomes. But as it is really a home cooks dish there would never have been a definitive recipe. I sometimes add a little curry powder to add variety.

      Historically homemade Shepherd's and Cottage pies were made using left overs from the Sunday roast, the meat was trimmed of fat etc and then it was diced or minced and then mixed with some leftover gravy thickened with a little flour, and the sautéed onions before being topped with mash. In old British cookbooks these dishes were termed "Réchauffés" i.e. a dish made from cold cooked meat. If you use leftovers from roasts you get a very different dish from the now standard ones using fresh mince. I often do this with roast lamb as I don't really like cold lamb - it can be good although watch the balance as it can be fatty if you are not careful.

      1. Coconut oil. When Shepherd's pie is on the menu, it's in a cafeteria I've paid either very little to get into, or have been ordered to eat in by some kind of authority. It's good for colleges in the US because it can fill up teen-aged boys quickly.

        1. I posted this on the UK/Ireland site to ask what they considered the ingredients of Shepherd's Pie since that was the point of contention in another post. Now that it's here it really doesn't suit its purpose anymore.

          1. if its a special one day ....it says to me they had leftover meat from the special the day before...

            if i go to a UK themed place..and its a regular menu item...then i expect it to be prepared traditionally like it would be if i was in the UK...

            2 Replies
            1. re: srsone

              i should have said here in the usa.....
              but edit time expired...

              1. re: srsone

                Minced lamb, some onions, not too much and just a little diced carrot. Topped with a nice mash. It's a simple dish and none the worse for that.