St. Patrick's Day Dinner--Cottage Pie

Mary had a little lamb...and peas and carrots and potatoes and called it shepherd pie.

— Carb Diva
Cast your vote for Shepherds Pie
Photo: Tina Rupp
Photo: Tina Rupp | Source

What (you might ask) is Shepherd's pie? Shepherd's pie is, simply put, leftovers--reinvented with a bit of necessity and a healthy measure of frugality.

The English tradition of meat pies dates back to the Middle ages. Game and mutton pies were popular and served in pastry "coffyns." They were cooked for hours in a slow oven, and topped with rich aspic jelly and other sweet spices. The eating of "hote [meat] pies" is mentioned in Piers Plowman, and English poem written in the 14th Century.

One key ingredient that separates shepherds pie from the Middle Ages "hot coffyn" is the use of potatoes. Potatoes are a new world food and were first introduced to Europe in 1520 by the Spanish. Shepherd's Pie, a dish of minced meat topped with mashed potatoes was probably invented sometime in the 18th Century by frugal peasant housewives looking for creative ways to serve leftover meat to their families.

Sunday dinner centered around a roast. On Monday, you ate roast again, but cold this time. Tuesday the leftovers were chopped/minced finely and reinvented as "pie". (And after that dinners for the remainder of the week went decidedly downhill).

Shepherd's pie was so named because the meat used was lamb (or probably mutton). However, today many cooks make it with beef.

Remove the lamb and your Shepherd's Pie becomes Cottage Pie.

Cook Time

Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 40 min
Ready in: 1 hour
Yields: about 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 cups leftover mashed potatoes
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups ground beef or turkey*
  • 1 cup carrot, chopped
  • 1 cup sliced celery
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups beef or chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced
  1. Heat oven to 400 F. In a saucepan, gently heat mashed potatoes and milk, stirring occasionally, until well combined. Remove from heat and stir in butter. Set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground meat and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until browned, 5 to 7 minutes. (If using leftover meatloaf you don't need to cook and brown for 5-7 minutes. Just a minute or two to heat is sufficient).
  3. Add carrot and celery, and cook 5 minutes. Sprinkle in flour, stir, then add chicken broth. Simmer 3 minutes and remove from heat. Add peas and mushrooms. Spoon into an ovenproof casserole and top with the mashed potatoes. Bake until the top is golden, about 40 minutes.
  4. *In place of ground meat you can substitute 4 cups of chopped leftover roast or meatloaf

What is your favorite "comfort" food?

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© 2013 Carb Diva

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Comments 4 comments

Carb Diva profile image

Carb Diva 21 months ago Author

Ventatachari - Thank you for stopping by and for your kind words. I always try to use a bit of humor or a story to introduce my recipes. I appreciate your support.


Venkatachari M profile image

Venkatachari M 21 months ago from Hyderabad, India

Very interesting and awesome preparation. I like it 'Mary had a little lamb- potatoes and carrots' and so prepared this wonderful shepherd pie. Good presentation.

Voted up and awesome.


janshares profile image

janshares 3 years ago from Washington, DC

I love sheperd's pie, one of my favorites. Good comfort food and very simple to make. I like adding seasoning and herbs to my ground beef.


tonymead60 profile image

tonymead60 3 years ago from Yorkshire

We call this cottage pie, and as you said shepherd's pie was lamb or mutton with a delicious topping of mashed potatoe finished under the grill to give it a crispy top or even with the addition of cheese.

good hub, well done.

regards

Tony

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