What Is The Difference Between Shepherds Pie And Cottage Pie
Oh the terminology of Shepherds Pie vs. Cottage Pie. There are some strong opinions out there. Cottage pie has been in use since 1791, when the potato was introduced as an edible crop affordable for the poor. The term shepherds pie has been used synonymously with cottage pie since 1877, regardless of the type of meat used, mutton or beef. More recently, the term shepherds pie has been used when the meat is lamb, and cottage pie when the meat is beef. We like to refer to it as a Shepherds Pie, no matter what meat goes inside of it.
Easy 5 Ingredient Shepherds Pie
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This easy Shepherds pie is made with ground beef in a savory gravy, layered with tender vegetables, creamy mashed potatoes and topped off with cheddar cheese.
This is my twist on the traditional Shepherds pie recipe. It does not use ground lamb or the traditional sauce. Instead, the ground beef is mixed with gravy and topped with sharp cheddar cheese. Interesting fact: its actually called cottage pie when its made with ground beef. However, in America, people commonly refer to it as Shepherds pie anyway.
This 5 ingredient shepherds pie is one of my favorite go-to ground beef recipes because its budget-friendly and flavorful. I have it at least once a month. It only requires 5 ingredients and takes less than 30 minutes to make so its perfect for a quick and easy dinner recipe.
What Vegetables Go In Shepherd’s Pie
The most traditional vegetables you will find in this dish are carrots, peas, and onions. That isn’t the only mixture that is known, and our family loves the addition of some corn. Below are some other vegetables that I have seen in a cottage or shepherd’s pie and know are still considered pretty true to original flavors.
- Shredded cabbage
If you want to stick with a truly authentic meal, these are the ones you should turn toward. For families that have different vegetable preferences, use whatever you wish. It’s my opinion that while there are some things that I would use, cooking is truly personal experience. Turn this recipe into one that fits your needs and it will be a masterpiece you prefer.
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Customize Your Shepherds Pie
This easy shepherds pie is the ultimate comfort food. Meat, cheese, potatoes? Whats not to love with that combo! It is also is easily customizable to your familys preferences. You can add different vegetables: corn, carrots, peas, green beans, etc. I personally prefer corn and green beans in mine, but when Im in a rush, Ill just use a bag of frozen mixed vegetables.
You can use instant mashed potatoes or real mashed potatoes with Yukon, Russet, or Sweet Potatoes. The gravy can be made from scratch or made with a gravy packet. The choice is up to you. You can even switch up the cheeses. Some good substitutes are Colby jack, mild cheddar, or a mix of different cheeses .The possibilities are endless!
Easy Shepherds Pie Variations:
Want to customize your shepherds pie recipe? Feel free to:
- Make it vegetarian. To make a vegetarian shepherds pie, just omit the meat and double the amount of mushrooms. And of course, use veggie stock instead of beef stock, and vegan Worcestershire sauce .
- Make it vegan. Do the above, plus use vegan butter, milk and cream cheese in your mashed potatoes.
- Make it gluten-free. Nix the flour and whisk 1.5 tablespoons cornstarch together with the stock before adding it to the sauce. Also be sure to double-check, as always, that all of your other ingredients are certified GF.
- Use sweet potatoes: For an amazing sweet+savory combo, feel free to use sweet potatoes instead of Russets or Yukon golds in your mashed potatoes. So good!!!
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How To Make Mashed Potato Topping
While the meat mixture is cooking, you will place your peeled potatoes into a pot of salted water and bring to a boil.
Cook the potatoes for 20 minutes or until fork-tender.
Drain the potatoes reserving ¼ cup of the water.
Pour the potatoes back into the pan and add in the water then begin mashing.
When the potatoes are mostly mashed, add in the melted butter, heavy cream, and sour cream.
Stir and mash to combine.
How To Make Cottage Pie:
- Prepare the mashed potatoes. Add potatoes to a saucepan with 2 inches of water. Cover and bring to a boil. Cook until fork tender, about 12-15 minutes. Drain the water and leave the potatoes in the pot. Cover with the lid and allow tosteam for a few minutes. Mash the potatoes lightly with a potato masher . Add butter, sour cream, milk, parmesan cheese and salt and pepper and stir just until smooth. Set aside.
- Prepare the meat. In a large, oven-safe* 12 inch skillet with sides, add the ground beef and ground sausage. Season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until browned, breaking the meat into small pieces with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Drain some of the grease and remove meat to a plate.
- Prepare the vegetables/gravy. Add the onion, celery and carrots to the pan and saute for about 5-8 minutes, until tender. Add garlic and flour and toss to combine. Cook for 1 minute. Add the beef broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, herbs and bay leaves and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Tastes and add extra seasonings, if needed. Remove bay leaves and stir in frozen peas and corn and cooked meat.
- Assemble the Pie. Spoon the mashed potatoes over the meat mixture to completely cover the top. Sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese.
- Bake. Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden and bubbling. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving to allow the gravy sauce in the meat mixture to cool and thicken.
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Tips From The Betty Crocker Kitchens
- tip 1 Traditionally, shepherds pie is made with lamb . However, as the dish gained wider popularity outside of its native English homeland , beef became a common substitute, especially in America where its more widely available than ground lamb.
- tip 2 Refrigerated mashed potatoes cut a ton of prep time off of this recipe and are good to keep on hand. Try any flavored, refrigerated mashed potatoes to top this main-dish pie.
- tip 3 Looking for a few more ways to turn a pound of ground beef into dinner? Check out the rest of Bettys kitchen-tested ground beef recipes.
To Make Beef Filling :
- Saute veggies: Melt remaining 1 Tbsp butter in a 12-inch cast iron skillet. Add onion, carrots, celery and saute until nearly soft, about6 minutes. Add garlic and saute 1 minute longer.
- Cook beef: Add ground beef in chunks and cook and break up beef until no longer pink, about 6 minutes. If you find theres lots of excess fat then dab some up using balled up paper towels held by tongs .
- Add thickeners: Add flour and tomato paste and saute 1 minute.
- Pour in liquids, let reduce: Pour in red wine, beef broth, Worcestershire, thyme and rosemary. Bring to a simmer stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low and let simmer until reduced by about 2/3 , about 8 10 minutes.
- Add remaining greens: Stir in peas and parsley and heat through, about 1 minute. Season filling with salt and pepper to taste.
- Assemble shepherds pie: Spread beef filling into an even layer. Dollop spoonfuls of mashed potatoes evenly over top then spread into an even layer .
- Run a fork along top in rows to create a wavy pattern.
- Bake: Move oven rack about 5-inches below broiler and preheat broiler to high. Transfer to oven and let broil until golden brown on top about 4 6 minutes .
- Rest: Let rest a few minutes before serving. Garnish with parsley if desired.
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How To Freeze Healthy Shepherds Pie
Once the shepherds pie is baked, cool completely and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Place it in the freezer until fairly firm, about two hours. Then, cover tightly with plastic wrap, followed by aluminum foil. Mark the date on the outside and store in the freezer for up to two months.
When ready to serve, remove the foil and plastic wrap. Use the foil you just removed to loosely cover the pie. Make sure that your casserole dish can go straight from freezer to oven if not, set the casserole in the oven while the oven preheats so that the dish warms slowly.
Bake the casserole for an hour, or until the pie is hot all the way through. Remove the foil for the last 15 minutes to allow the top to brown.
What To Serve With Shepherd’s Pie
Since this meal has vegetables, protein, and starch all in one spoon, you don’t have to serve anything alongside the meal. Much like a pot pie, this meat pie is one that really doesn’t need additional sides.
However, if you are like our family and like to load up on vegetables on the side, then definitely serve up more! Anything from a simple side of green beans to a side salad will work. Since this is a rather heavy and richer meal, you’ll probably want to avoid fried foods or heavy sides. Instead, consider the fresh greens or green veggies to go with this.
One of my favorites is this recipe for roasted garlic parmesan asparagus spears. They are super easy to cook while your pie is cooking, and they pair really well with this rich dish.
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More Vegetarian Casseroles To Try
Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and the pepper. Stir in 2 cups of the cheese, scallions, and parsley. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if you like.
Spoon the potatoes over the vegetables in the baking dish. Use a fork to make swirls in the potatoes to create peaks and valleys. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/3 cup grated cheese.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until the filling bubbles and the potatoes are golden. Let rest for 10 minutes and serve.
Read The Labels On Your Worcestershire Sauce
Diving into the meat filling, youll see that Worcestershire is a key ingredient. This is a vinegar based sauce made from fermented onions and garlic, along with molasses, tamarind, anchovies, spices and more. Yep, you can say this sauce has an intense depth of flavor, making it perfect to add to meats.
But if youre gluten-free, youll need to be mindful of the brands you buy. Worcestershire often includes a wheat-based soy sauce to get that deep dark brown color. So, I recommend purchasing one of the below brands that are gluten-free .
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Prep Ahead And Tips For Shepherds Pie
You will love how easy and convenient this dish is. It can be made a day in advance, which makes dinner prep easier.
- Layering After prepping the meat mixture, let it cool and then chill it in the fridge for 20 minutes. This will help keep the mashed potato layer separated.
- Prep Ahead Prep and assemble up to one day in advance and refrigerate. Let it come to room temperature 30 minutes before baking it.
- Quick Clean Up If your baking dish is very full, place it on a parchment lined baking sheet to avoid any juices spilling in your oven.
- To Freeze Before Baking
- Cool completely. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and then in foil. Freeze.
- Thaw overnight in the fridge. Bake for 45 minutes covered and 15 minutes uncovered
Tips For Homemade Shepherds Pie:
- Use a potato rice or food mill versus just mashing the potatoes if youd like silky smooth, lump-free potatoes.
- If possible use red wine for a robust finish.
- Use lean beef and dab up excess fat so dish isnt overly greasy.
- Avoid cooking in a glass dish as it may shatter under the heat of the broiler. If you dont own a cast iron pan use another deep oven safe pan or a metal or ceramic baking dish.
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Why Is It Called Shepherds Pie
Originally a meat pie made with minced meat and mashed potatoes was known as a Cottage Pie . It is very popular in Ireland, Scotland and England as well! In the late 1800s the pie was named Shepherds Pie if made with lamb and if made with beef it was called Cottage Pie.
Regardless of the name, this recipe is a classic Shepherds Pie recipe loaded with flavor and the perfect make ahead meal to serve all year long!
Classic Shepherds Pie Recipe
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Meaty, savory, and comforting, shepherds pie is a classic dish of English origin filled with meat and veggies topped with a mashed potato crust. Dont be fooled by the lengthy ingredients though because this dinner delight is one of the easiest ever. Perfect for prep or a weekend dinner on a chilly night, my family always asks for my shepherds pie recipe when the temperatures are plummeting outside and I have a feeling yours will too!
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Ingredients For Deviled Eggs:
Note* The printable step by step recipe card is at the bottom of this post.
- 6 large hard boiled eggs
- 3 Tablespoons mayonaise
- 1-2 teaspoons dill pickle juice
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
I always start with 1 teaspoon of pickle juice. Then, I taste the filling. If it needs a little extra saltiness and tanginess, I add another teaspoon of pickle juice.
If you dont have or dont like pickle juice, white vinegar or red wine vinegar are good substitutes. However, you may want to add a pinch of salt to the filling if you use vinegar instead of pickle juice.
Cottage Pie Vs Shepherds Pie
Cottage pie is a meat pie that is topped with mashed potatoes and baked in the oven. Its often confused with Shepherds pie because, up to the 20th century, the names were used interchangeably. Now, cottage pie and shepherds pie differ only in the type of ground meat they are made with. Cottage pie has historically been made with any type of meat but is most commonly made with ground beef where Shepherds pie is made with lamb. Both pies are cooked with vegetables and gravy and baked under a layer of mashed potatoes.
For Shepherds Pie, simply substitute ground lamb for the meat in the recipe and keep everything else the same!
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