Monday, April 8, 2013

Shepherd's Pie

Cottage pie or shepherd's pie is a meat pie with a crust of mashed potato. The term cottage pie is known to have been in use in 1791, when the potato was being introduced as an edible crop affordable for the poor (cf. "cottage" meaning a modest dwelling for rural workers).

The potato was first domesticated in the region of modern-day southern Peru and extreme northwestern Bolivia between the 8000 and 5000 BCE. It has since spread around the world and become a staple crop in many countries. Throughout Europe, the most important new food in the 19th century was the potato, which had three major advantages over other foods for the consumer: its lower rate of spoilage, its bulk (which easily satisfied hunger), and its cheapness.

The crop slowly spread across Europe, such that, for example, by 1845 it occupied one-third of Irish arable land.[citation needed] Potatoes comprised about 10% of the caloric intake of Europeans.[citation needed] Along with several other foods that either originated in the Americas or were successfully grown or harvested there, potatoes sustained European populations

A St. Stephen's Day pie is a made using turkey and ham. A vegetarian version (occasionally named "Shepherdless Pie") can be made using soya or other meat substitutes (like tofu or Quorn), or legumes such as lentils or chickpeas. The Cumberland pie is a version with a layer of bread crumbs on top.

In early cookery books, the dish was a means of using leftover roasted meat of any kind, and the pie dish was lined with mashed potato as well as having a mashed potato crust on top. The term "shepherd's pie" did not appear until 1877, and since then it has been used synonymously with "cottage pie", regardless of whether the principal ingredient was beef or mutton. More recently, the term "shepherd's pie" has been used when the meat is lamb, the theory being that shepherds are concerned with sheep and not cattle.

From wikibooks Cookbook
Recipe For Shepherd's Pie

1 oz lard [optional]
1 lb minced or ground lamb or beef
3 lbs potatoes [King Edward recommended]
1 large or 2 small onions
2 Tablespoons flour
2 Cups beef stock [alternatively, bouillon cubes can be used,
or gravy powder, if the flour is omitted]

grated cheese [optional]
a handful of mixed vegetables such as sweetcorn or carrots
mixed herbs

Brown the mince in a frying pan. Depending on the fat content of the minced meat, there may be no need to add oil, as the meat is often fatty enough. Finely chop the onion and lightly fry in a little butter until clear. Add the onions to the mince along with the mixed herbs and some pepper. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir and cook for 3 - 4 minutes [if using gravy powder, omit this step].
Cover with beef stock [or add water and beef bouillon/gravy powder] and simmer for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile: Peel, chop and boil the potatoes for 20 minutes until cooked. Once the meat is cooked, skim off the excess fat, then boil rapidly to reduce the liquid until it just covers the mince and onions. Drain the potatoes very well until completely dry. Mash until smooth and free of any lumps. Add butter to the mashed potato, taste and adjust the seasoning.

Add enough milk to make the mash very soft [heavy mash will not float properly on top of the mince]. Put mince mixture in a shallow oven proof dish. Spread the mash on top of the meat and brush the tops of the potatoes with melted butter. If desired, sprinkle the grated cheese on top of the mash. If cooking without cheese, spike the top with a fork – that is, rough up the surface of the mash by dragging a fork across it, as if ploughing a field. Cook in a hot oven for about 30-50 minutes until the top is golden brown. Serve with peas or beans, or other green vegetables.

Text Credits: Wikipedia || wikibooks cookbook || History Of The Potato Image Credit: Susieclue

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