What is a real Shepherd’s Pie?
If you are someone new to meat pies, it would be hard to distinguish between these two. The names “Shepherd’s Pie” and “Cottage Pie” tend to be thrown about loosely but what is the difference between them? Both pies belong to the category of meat pies and are usually the highlight of the party. Rich in carbohydrates and protein, both are savoury to the palate and fills hungry tummies. This has made meat pies become a staple for family dinners around the world. What’s more important than to satisfy a hungry family?
From their traditional protein main to their heritage, there is much to learn about the pies. Once you know them, it won’t be hard to tell them apart.
A Shepherd’s Pie
When first introduced to Shepherd’s Pie, one might wonder if the pies can be associated with shepherds. In fact, yes they can! Shepherd’s Pies actually do originate from shepherd families.
Traditionally, Shepherd’s Pies are made using sheep or lamb meat. Prepared by the wives of a shepherd, it was a way for them to reuse the leftovers from the night before, and thus, born was the art of the Shepherd’s Pie. Originating around the 19th century Ireland and other parts of England, many families invented ways to prevent leftovers. This was when using lamb meat and potatoes in a dish gained popularity.
Old recipes for shepherd’s pies included fruit and nuts ingredients – raisins, nutmeg, oranges, currants, and even artichokes.
Other than the use of lamb meat as a protein main, Shepherd’s Pies also usually come topped with creamy mashed potatoes. Often, the taste of this creamy mashed potato would be the deal-breaker that decided if the pie was successful. If not moist and flavorful enough, the layer of mashed potato topping can break off from the main meat pie. A good pie is one that has the thick, creamy layer staying well integrated with the lamb meat, on every spoon.
A Cottage Pie
Unlike a Shepherd’s Pie that is made from lamb meat, Cottage Pies use beef as the main protein. In fact, they have even been around for longer than Shepherd’s Pies, recorded to have been around since 1700s. Traditional Cottage Pies did not use potatoes, they instead used other kinds of pastry as toppings, similar to fruit pies. The pastry would line the bottom of the dish and over the meat filling. Cottage Pies were also commonly referred to as mince pies as the meat used were often minced.
Much like the Shepherd’s Pie, Cottage Pies were made by housewives to redeliver last night’s leftovers. Originated from the poorer section of England, it was an indigenous way of making sure no meat would be wasted. By serving a brand new dish, it gave the family something new to dig into again. It was a creative way that helped families stretch out their food while still having a hot meal to dig into.
As the popularity of using potatoes rose, Cottage Pies started to come topped with thinly sliced potato layered over the meat. There is also a version where the bottom of the dish is lined with thinly sliced potatoes. As time passed, it became normal for both top and bottom to be lined with potatoes. Since then, the lines have been blurred between the two pies.
The Shepherd’s Pie today
Today, people often use both terms interchangeably. The term Shepherds Pie can now be used to refer to any meat pies – beef, lamb, chicken, etc. To meet the widening dietary requirements, there are even vegetarian versions of the Shepherds Pie. Many of such recipes are amazing and managed to switch our the protein with vegetables while still maintaining the delectable goodness of the pies! Have you seen our 5-Spices Vegetarian Supreme?
Rich in flavor and savor, the Shepherds Pie today give new joy to meat lovers as they come in a wide array of flavors.
In Singapore, more and more locals have grown to love shepherd’s pies. Many restaurants have included pies in their lunch/dinner menus, acknowledging the fact that this dish is well-loved by all. Be it the locals or the common tourist everyone just wants to taste the local take of pies.
Now that you know the fundamental difference between the pies, which do you prefer? Are you someone who steers towards a beef pie or a lamb meat lover? Or do you prefer no meat at all, just the yummy carrots, peas, and the crazy good mashed potato layer?
For us, it doesn’t matter.
As long as you’ve tried our meat pie with the carefully integrated gravy, hand-whipped creamy mash potato, you will prefer our pies! Order and try it for yourself at the next party!