Linked at Foodie Friday
The first known written mention of Shepherd's Pie as a meal in it's own right was from 1885, although the dish itself is undoubtedly much older. Potatoes are a new world food, arriving in England in around the 1600's, so the recipe is not older than that but similar dishes made without potato have been around for much longer.
For to Make Mutton PiesThe dish is thought to have been originally called Cottage Pie, however more recently Cottage Pie has come to be known as being made with beef and Shepherd's Pie made with lamb or mutton.
Mince your mutton and your white together. When it is minced season it with pepper, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, mace, prunes, currants, dates and raisins, and hard eggs, boiled and chopped very small, and throw them on top."
---The Good Housewife's Jewel, Thomas Dawson, 1595 edition With an introduction by Maggie Black [Southover Press:East Sussex] 1996 (p. 68)
The recipe was most likely cooked on a Monday to use up the leftovers from a traditional British Sunday Roast. It can however be made with raw ground meat if you don't have leftover. Like most traditional foods, every family has their own way of making it. Here's mine. I use ground beef, as lamb is difficult to come by and expensive here.
None of the ingredients are quantity sensitive, you can pretty much put in as much as you want of each thing. I've put quantities here as a guide but I don't actually measure anything when making it.
5 medium potatoes
1lb raw ground beef or cooked leftovers.
1 1/2 cups Frozen mixed Vegetables (peas, carrots etc)
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 cup button mushrooms, quartered.
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Peel and boil the potatoes in salted water, cook until soft enough to make a mash. Normally around 25 - 45 minutes. Drain and put the potatoes back in the pan to dry off for about a minute. Mash with butter and milk, you can add some cheese if you like.
Meanwhile cook the vegetables, onion and mushrooms in a pan, after a few minutes add the meat and a big splash of Worcestershire sauce. Simmer until the meat is cooked through, about 20 - 30 minutes. Less time if using leftover meat.
When the meat is cooked, pour it evenly into the bottom of a casserole dish and top with the mashed potato. You can sprinkle some cheese on top if you like. Cook in the oven for around 20 minutes or until the top begins to brown.
Serve with Green Vegetables.
Here are some links to other ways of making Cottage Pie/Shepherd's Pie -
Jamie Oliver's Shepherd's Pie
Antony Worrall Thompson's Shepherd's Pie
By looking at the links you can see that the only really essential ingredients are Potato and Meat. You can play around with absolutely everything else to suit your own tastes.
No picture for the recipe yet as I'm making it for dinner tonight. I'll update when it's made.
In case you wanted to know, Worcestershire Sauce is pronounced Wooster-Sheer sauce in England.