There is very often confusion arising between shepherd’s pie and cottage pie. Some people believe that the two are simply different names for the same dish, when in actual fact, this is not the case. The principal and frequently only difference between the two is that shepherd’s pie is made with ground lamb, while cottage pie is made with ground beef.
Shepherd’s pie was a dish which first came in to being as a peasant dish, which means that in order to be any way authentic, it must not be over complicated by an excess of ingredients, particularly those which would simply not have been available to those cooks of yesteryear. This simple shepherd’s pie recipe for two people is therefore close to that which would have been prepared in years gone by.
2lb floury potatoes
1lb ground lamb
1 medium sized carrot (finely diced)
1 small white onion (finely chopped)
1 clove of garlic (crushed or finely chopped)
1 tsp freshly chopped mint
1 pint of fresh lamb or chicken stock
2oz of butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Put the ground lamb in to a large, non-stick saucepan and brown, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. Add the carrot, onion, garlic, mint and stock. Season with the salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and continue to simmer gently for about thirty minutes, stirring occasionally. If the mixture becomes too dry, add a little more hot stock/boiling water, as required.
When the lamb is simmering, put the peeled and chopped potatoes in to a large pot and cover with cold water. Add salt and bring to a simmer for twenty-five to thirty minutes, until soft. Drain well and add to a bowl with the butter. Mash with a hand masher.
Spoon the lamb and a couple of tablespoons of stock in to a large casserole dish. You may find that the best way to evenly distribute the potato on top is to place small spoonfuls on, one at a time, before smoothing them all together with a knife. Place the dish in to an oven, 400F/200C, for forty to forty-five minutes. Brown the potato under a hot grill if required and serve with some fresh vegetables, such as broccoli and carrots.