Cottage Pie Vs. Shepherd’s Pie – Know The Difference

When we think of long, cold winters, we can’t help but picture those hearty, mood-lifting, traditional comfort recipes that are sure to lift our spirits, even during the harshest of seasons. Such is the case of the well-known classic Shepherd’s Pie and its lesser-known cousin (but just as delicious), Cottage Pie.

Cottage Pie & Shepherd’s Pie – The Origins

Unfortunately, we can’t credit one single person, event, or historical circumstance responsible for creating these delicious recipes, but here are some facts that, when all put together, made it possible for us to rejoice in these savory classics.

  • In the 15th century, England took control of Ireland, bringing the island into the United Kingdom.
  • Irish Catholics who refused religious conversion didn’t become powerful landlords, protected by the crown. Instead, they became farmers and peasants, living in humble homes called “cottages.”
  • In 1589, Sir Walter Raleigh introduced potatoes to Ireland, which quickly gained acceptance among the Irish for being affordable and edible, particularly in humbler families.
  • Brits have always loved beef, but our Irish brothers were never really into it, favoring lamb over it, probably because of the several sheep farms scattered across Ireland.

We can pin the term “cottage pie” somewhere around the end of the 18th century when people found a way to avoid food waste after roasting meat, repurposing those leftovers with potatoes on top. Depending on where you were, the pie contained either beef or lamb, which brings us to our main topic.

Cottage Pie & Shepherd’s Pie – The Difference

For centuries, they were both called cottage pie since they were both essentially the same. But the only difference that matters is:

  • Cottage pie contains minced beef and is traditionally an English dish.
  • Shepherd’s pie has minced lamb, and its origins trace back to Ireland.

Nothing more intricate than that. Both of these dishes were born out of rougher times during the harsh winters of the UK. Today, they’re staples of comfort cuisine, both being equally hearty and delicious.

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