What’s the difference between shepherd’s pies and cottage pies?

What’s the difference between shepherd’s pies and cottage pies?

If you are new to the world of meat pies, it would be hard for you to distinguish these two. After all, they are both pies that have meat as one of their main ingredients, right? Both shepherd’s pies and cottage pies are savory and delectable dishes that would satisfy anyone’s hunger since they are rich in protein and carbohydrates. Because of this, families from all over the world love to serve these meat pies during family dinners and gatherings to ensure that everyone has their fill.

Most of the time, these two are used interchangeably when referring to pies that have meat and potatoes. But what really is the difference between the two? In this article, we are going to show you the difference of these two types of meat pies and how they came to be one of the most flavorful dishes that we all enjoy.

What are shepherd’s pies?

For individuals who are newly introduced to shepherd’s pies, the most common question that pops to mind is “why are they called shepherd’s pies?” “Do shepherds make them?”  Since shepherds deal with sheep, it only makes sense that the type of meat that is used in shepherd’s pies is from sheep or lamb. Since shepherd’s wives make the meals for their families, it has grown to be called shepherd’s pies. Common ingredients mixed together with the lamb meat often include carrots and whatever vegetables are available during the season’s harvest. Shepherd’s pies originated around the 19th century in Ireland and other parts of England when potatoes and lamb meat became popularly used in dishes. Shepherd’s pies were often made by housewives from leftover lamb meat served during Sunday dinners to ensure that there would be no food that will be wasted.

Old recipes for shepherd’s pies even include ingredients like raisins, nutmeg, oranges, Currans, and even artichokes. As you can see, people would come up with ways to make the leftover meat and mix it with flavorful ingredients that are available to still whip up a feast that their family—and even friends—can enjoy.

A distinct feature of the shepherd’s pie, aside from being made with lamb meat, is that it is topped with a flavorful and creamy mashed potato. Most of the time, how the mashed potatoes were made would make or break the whole dish. A mashed potato topping that is not moist and flavorful enough would break off from the meat below and would remove the enjoyment of eating the potato and the meat together.

Cottage pies

Unlike shepherd’s pies that use meat from lamb, cottage pies use beef as the main ingredient of the dish. As a matter of fact, cottage pies have been around far longer than shepherd’s pies since they were already made around the 1700s by housewives. According to food historians, cottage pies really didn’t use potatoes as the topping before and would often use pastry—much like other fruit pies. The pastry would line the bottom of the dish and then placed on top as if the meat was the filling.  Cottage pies were also called “mince pies” since the meat in them were “minced” then used as a filling for the pastry.

Cottage pies, like shepherd’s pies, were often made whenever there was leftover beef from dinners. It originated from the poorer section of England and was an ingenious way of making sure that no meat was wasted while coming up with a whole new dish that everyone can enjoy. Doing this was a great way for families to stretch out the available ingredients in the household while still having their fill.

We have already mentioned that folks used to top their cottage pies with pastries. When people started using potatoes as the topping for their cottage pies, they were thinly sliced and layered on top of the meat. There is also a version of cottage pies where the bottom of the dish was lined with thinly cut potatoes before putting in the meat. As such, cottage pies have sliced potatoes both on the top and the bottom of the meat.

Shepherd’s pie today

While shepherd’s pies and cottage pies used to have a distinction, nowadays people use these terms interchangeably. Most of the time, shepherd’s pies can be used for any pie that contain beef, lamb, or even chicken. There are even vegetarian versions of shepherd’s pies that use various types of vegetables that still taste amazing.

Modern version of shepherd’s pies also makes use of different types of gravy in which the meat is cooked in. unlike before where the meat and vegetables were simply mixed together, people have found a way of exploring and making the flavors of the meat and vegetables burst out. Even more, each country and region have their own way of whipping up a shepherd’s pie, depending on the palates of the locals.

Shepherd’s pies today are really rich in ingredients and flavor, giving meat pie lovers a wide array of choices. Common ingredients found in shepherd’s pies often include carrots, corn, and green peas that can easily give you your daily fill in single serving.

In Singapore, more and more locals have grown to love shepherd’s pies simply because they are flavorful and would give you the energy that you need for the day! Because of this, cafes and restaurants all over Singapore have incorporated shepherd’s pies in their lunch and dinner menus owing to the fact that locals and tourists alike love this type of dish.

There you have it! Now you know the difference between cottage pies and shepherd’s pies, which one do you prefer? Are you someone who would go for the regular beef filling or would love to taste the soft and sweet lamb meat in your meat pie? For us, it doesn’t matter whether it’s beef, lamb, or chicken—as long as the meat is savory and flavorful, then topped with a creamy and buttery mashed potato!

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