Like many families, in my house, we used to refer to Cottage Pie as Shepherd’s Pie. Beef mince was always available from the butchers and was far more economical for a family of seven than lamb would be. Topped with golden mashed potato that had caught under the grill; everyone coveting the crispy bits and a generous scoop of baked beans on the side.
And as far as I was concerned, everyone called it the same and served it the same way.
It wasn’t until recently that I was served Shepherd’s Pie without baked beans and felt cheated. “My Granny would never have served it like that!” I snorted in disgust. Only to find I was not the only one at the table who thought the same – lo and behold, the others also agreed that baked beans were a very acceptable addition to a serving of Shepherd’s Pie. Emboldened by this camaraderie I decided to come clean and tell all; as a child, my favourite way of eating this was with a squeeze of ketchup over the mash and then mixing everything together into a plateful of dark, pink-brown gloop studded with baked beans.
As revolting as this sounds to me now – as a child, it was a plate of sheer delight.
Click on the link to see my youtube clip on how to make my easy Cottage Pie: https://tinyurl.com/zxp42sa
I don’t tend to make shepherd’s pie (cottage pie) from scratch anymore, as in I try not to have to go food shopping too often, so make this using leftover beef from the Sunday Roast instead. In the past I’ve used leftover roast potatoes but to be honest it’s so easy to make good mashed potato to top the pie that it’s really no hardship. Whereas baked beans would have been my staple side dish, nowadays I try and have something green either in the pie or on the side. Leftover broccoli, peas and beans are very welcome as is a buttery tangle of spring greens or shredded Savoy cabbage.
The good thing about a Shepherd’s Pie (Cottage Pie) is that you can make the components in advance. I made the beef pie filling on Monday evening as this can sit in its dish in the fridge until you need to top it and heat it – I’m pretty sure you can freeze it at this stage too. Take the pie out of the fridge whilst you’re making the mashed potato and top the dish. Place in a moderate oven for 35mins until the filling is bubbling up the sides and the top is golden in colour.