Recipe Tuesday: Shepherd’s Pie is only Shepherd’s Pie if it’s made of Lamb

It’s funny how different recipes come to mean different things; a recipe can summon up a memory of the past, or be associated with a particular time of the day or the week. I can’t hear the old Grandstand music without salivating and tasting the spiciness of curry, rice and chips my Mum’s way, with tomato skins in a mince base. Ditto pie and beans is a Saturday teatime in my childhood. We were poor enough to need to make a half pound of beef go a long way, but rich enough to appreciate life. My childhood (give or take a few family arguments and school issues) was a happy one.

And a lot of the old recipes come back again and again. I still struggle to say Quiche Lorraine instead of egg and bacon pie, I love having ham with a white sauce instead of gravy, I love making crumble because that was always my job in the kitchen (cold hands, warm heart you see)

One of my favourite and most basic recipes actually takes a fair amount of time to make, with prepping the sauce, mashing the spuds and baking it to perfection, but it is so worth it.

It’s a taste of my childhood, and something my parents still serve regularly as their standard Feed a Crowd recipes. We call it Shepherd’s Pie and have done since I were a little bairn at me Mother’s knee, but officially it has a few different names depending on the content. According to Jamie Oliver’s post, 10 Things you Didn’t Know about Shepherd’s Pie, ‘shepherd’s pie’ contains only lamb (duh, they’re shepherds) while a pie made from beef is called cottage pie because

The name “cottage” was applied to this kind of meat pie around the time potatoes were being introduced in the UK, because they were an affordable for thing for peasants, many of whom would live in cottages, to eat. It seems a bit convoluted but hey, we’re always an odd bunch with our etymology.

And cottage pie predates the term Shepherd’s pie by 100 years. Adding breadcrumbs makes a Cumberland pie, while the French term is Hachis Parmentier after the man who introduced potatoes to the French. That sounds a lot like hash which is what I’ve heard this pie, made with corned beef instead of minced, called as well.

This recipe is really short and relies a lot on you using common sense.

Shepherd’s Pie

1 onion chopped finely

1 garlic clove chopped

700gm Minced beef or lamb

¾ pt beef stock

½ tsp each thyme, rosemary and nutmeg

Salt and pepper

A bag of white potatoes, peeled and mashed

2oz cheese
Fry onion and garlic until soft. Add the meat and brown. Stir in 1 tbsp flour and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the stock, herbs and season. Simmer for 10 min and then put in an ovenproof dish. Spread mashed potato on top, sprinkle with the cheese and dot with butter. Bake for 45 min at GM4 until golden and crispy. Serve with peas, carrots or cabbage.

It never gets left in our house.


I’m busy tonight, so I may not make it to a blogpost tomorrow. That would only be the second daily post I’ve missed. I hope to find the time, but if not then I’ll definitely be popping by the Hygge Nook where a host of hyggely people are gathering to celebrate hygge and share their best moments. We’re over 100 members now, which is brilliant. And I’ll be on my social media.Find me on How to Hygge the British Way on Facebook, as @AngelKneale on Twitter and as British Hygge Jem on Instagram.

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3 thoughts on “Recipe Tuesday: Shepherd’s Pie is only Shepherd’s Pie if it’s made of Lamb

  1. My mum always put baked beans in her cottege/shepherd’s pie. I was never very keen on that! I much prefer it without. I had Goatherder’s Pie in France too (made, unsurprisingly) with goat meat. I wonder why lentil pie is called “Shepherdess Pie” – it seems very unfair that the shepherdess doesn’t get to eat any meat!! We generally call it “Lentil Herder’s Pie”!! It’s very nice with a sweet potato topping.


  2. I am confident that no shepherd or cottage would recognise what I make – with the addition of carrots and beans and other veggies and either beef or lamb and throw in some other things too. Different roots mashed in with the potatoes sometimes and then perhaps a cheesy topping on the odd occasion. I am sure that isn’t an original recipe is it! Tastes good though and I am sure that your version tastes really good as well!


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