Sunday, 2 March 2014


Good morning to you,

What is the difference between a Shepherd's Pie and a Cottage Pie?

I think if you were to ask four or five people, you would probably receive a different reply from each one. 

I have heard it said,  that  a Shepherd's Pie, is only a Shepherd's Pie, if the meat used is lamb.

..... and a Cottage Pie is so named, because the Cottage Pie is made of beef.

I've also heard that you cannot have carrots in a Shepherd's Pie, but that you can in a Cottage Pie.  I am wondering if this is to do with where each of us lives.... the differing ingredients being regionally based.

..... I also know of two other extra ingredients which friends of mine use..... grated cheese with the potato and peas mixed with the mince.... so as you can see there are a number of ways to make these pies.

For my American friends who may not know what a Shepherd's Pie is..... it is not a pie made with a pie crust, it is a pie made with a potato topping.

So today, I am mixing it up even further, because today, I am making a Shepherd's, not with minced lamb but with minced beef and carrots.  The reason I am calling it a Shepherd's Pie, is simply because of family tradition. We have always used beef  to make a Shepherd's Pie.

My recipe does not vary too much, from Ivy and Phyllis' recipe, apart from the fact, I add a few extra ingredients and I use freshly minced beef.

 So today we are making an old family favourite,

Shepherd's Pie.  My Shepherd's Pie base is not dry, I like to make sure there is gravy as well, so that when the dish is placed on to the plate and the vegetables are added, there is a nice gravy to spoon over the meal.

Again this is personal, as I know friends who make a much drier meat base.... but it's all about family preference.

So without further ado, it's on with my pinnie and the music I am listening to today is,

Laura Marling... an English folk singer.  Laura's full name is Laura Beatrice Marling..... isn't that a fabulous name. I love folk music and Laura is one of the many folk singers I enjoy listening to. Listen to Devil Spoke, Rambling Man and Blackberry Stone... you will be so pleased you did.

Now that Rambling Man is playing, I am ready to organise my ingredients.


500g minced beef
1 large onion
2 medium sized carrots
1 tablespoonful of tomato paste
1 tablespoonful of flour
1 litre of vegetable stock
sea salt and black pepper
2 springs of fresh thyme
2 bay leaves


10 medium sized floury potatoes
such as Maris Piper
 (or any potatoes which are good for mashing)
50g unsalted butter
200ml of milk
salt and pepper


Pre-heat the oven to 180C
Size of dish: 10" x 8"

Place the beef mince into a pan
and cook until browned.

Whilst the beef mince is browning,
chop the onions finely
when the mince has browned,
add to the pan.

Peel and chop the carrots
into small pieces
add to the pan with the mince and onion.
Cook until the onions are translucent.
I tend to stir the mixture every so often.

Remove the thyme leaves from the stalk
place the thyme and bay leaves into the pan
add the tomato paste

the flour.
Cook for 2 minutes
to cook out the tomato paste and flour.

Add the vegetable stock
and stir the ingredients.
Bring to the boil,
then reduce to a simmer.
Place a lid onto the saucepan
and simmer for 35 minutes
to tenderise the meat.

If there is too much gravy at the end of the 
cooking time, remove the pan lid and bring the mixture 
to a rapid boil to reduce the gravy.

Taste and add salt and pepper as required.

Whilst the mince is cooking,
peel and cut the potatoes in half.

Place in a pan of salted boiling water
and cook for 20 minutes
or until the potatoes are cooked.

Drain the water from the potatoes
and mash the potatoes.

Add sea salt and black pepper,
the butter and milk
and mix together.
This is where you need a little elbow grease
to whip the potatoes in to light fluffy mashed potato.

Place the cooked mince into a dish


spoon the potato over the beef mince.
I start around the edges, because every now and again,
I have been known, not to make enough
mashed potato, so I have to leave the centre without a covering
of potato. 
I can hear your surprise,
Daphne, the potato lover, not making enough
mashed potato.... and in case you are wondering,
the times I did not have enough potato to cover the 
Shepherd's Pie.....I did not eat any.
Although I have been known,
 on occasion, to wait until the end
to enjoy a spoonful.
That is what I call "the cooks perks".

Back to the potato.  
Once the potato has been placed onto the 
minced beef,

Use a fork to fluff the potato,
as you don't want the potato to be flat,
as the little peaks will become crispy when baked.

Place the pie in an 180C oven
and cook for 40 minutes
or until you have a golden brown, crispy topping.

Allow the Shepherd's Pie to cool a little

then help yourself.

Shepherd's Pie and Cottage Pie used to be a way of making left over meat go further.  I remember, as a child, after Sunday lunch, the cooked meat which was left over, would be put into cold storage.  The next day, Phyllis would take out her hand mincer and finely mince the cooked meat.  The meat would be set aside, whilst she made the sauce with chopped onions, flour, tomato ketchup (yes I was surprised to read tomato ketchup) and stock. The sauce would be brought to boiling point and then stirred.  The minced meat would then be added to the sauce and a potato topping would be added. This would be baked until golden brown and delicious.

There is an extract in Phyllis' cookery book, which reads,

"If the pie is for an elaborate occasion ~ and the Shepherd's Pie, if well made, is not to be despised, even for visitors, some potato can be piped on the top in fancy shapes."

My word, what a strong word to use, "despised", there was certainly a lot of pressure on woman to be good home cooks.

So whether you call it Shepherd's Pie, or Cottage Pie, or whether you add carrots or you don't, whether you add peas or you don't, whether you add cheese to the topping or you don't..... don't worry ......just enjoy your version of Shepherd's Pie.

Carol from Carol from Art and Sand and I were discussing Shepherd's Pie and she mentioned that she visited an Irish Pub where she and her husband enjoyed Shepherd's Pie.  Carol, if the fancy ever takes you to make a Shepherd's now have a recipe to make your own.  I do hope you enjoy it.

Take care and I will see you on Wednesday.

This week I will be joining,


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Best wishes to you.


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