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For some people, mac and cheese, or perhaps a chicken pot pie, is their idea of comfort food. For me, growing up in England, Shepherd’s Pie filled that role. Shepherd’s Pie was traditionally made with leftover lamb or beef and topped with mashed potato. But there is something of a debate in Great Britain over whether a dish using ground beef as its base qualifies as Shepherd’s Pie at all.

Such potato-topped beef pies are often called Cottage Pies. But dig a little deeper and other factors muddy the issue, such as whether adding vegetables or tomatoes to the meat, or sprinkling cheese or bits of butter on top of the potato, undermines or adds to its authenticity.

Well, let the debate continue. I'm calling this dish, which uses extra-lean ground beef, Shepherd's Pie. Anyone care to weigh in? Feel free to comment below.

Photo © 2006 Fiona Haynes, licensed to About.com, Inc.


September 27, 2007 at 5:05 pm
(1) Tallyn says:

Shepherds don’t watch cattle, they watch sheep. Shepherd’s Pie is mutton. The rest are just wannabes. ;-p

October 3, 2007 at 11:34 am
(2) Cynthia says:

What is wrong with calling it Cottage pie????? Shepherds pie it cnnot be!

October 4, 2007 at 4:48 am
(3) patricia says:

shepherds pie is always made with minced lamb, cottage pie with beef! Or so my mother taught me.

October 5, 2007 at 12:17 pm
(4) Eileen says:

Shepherd’s pie is always made with lamb – never beef. We’re Irish (grandmother immigrated), and my mother has always used leftover leg of lamb, as do I. In our family, the whole thing was made with leftover peas & carrots, moistened w/gravy from the original dish. These days we top with potatoes pressed through a ricer rather than mashed. I tend to use fresh veggies rather than leftovers, but that’s pretty much it. Shepherds tend sheep, not cows. Made with beef, it’s known as “cottage pie”. Perhaps that’s because “cowboy pie” gives the wrong idea entirely. ;)

October 17, 2007 at 12:56 am
(5) Pippa says:

I wrote to you from London last year about the title. I will try your recipe this weekend. I’ve been adding cubed swede, parsley and fresh thyme. Vicarage pie is the same with mashed parsnips as the topping.

October 10, 2008 at 3:27 pm
(6) Mia says:

Uh……this is a variation of Shepherd’s Pie…LOW FAT…we know the history behind this dish, but it is not 1876 ….this is a delicious recipe that worked out great…especially if you are looking for A LOW FAT MEAL….call it what you will COTTAGE, CABIN, VILLA, whatever….

April 23, 2009 at 10:45 pm
(7) healthy low fat recipe says:

I have made this several time before and it just gets better and better! I love it.

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