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Cottage Pie with minced beef
Cottage pie refers to an English meat pie made with beef mince and with a crust made from mashed potato. A variation on this dish using Lamb mince is known as Shepherd's pie.

The term cottage pie is known to have been in use in 1791, when potato was being introduced as an edible crop affordable for the poor (cf. "cottage" meaning a modest dwelling for rural workers).

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 the 1870s, and since then it has been used synonymously with "cottage pie", regardless of whether the principal ingredient was beef or mutton. There is now a popular tendency for "shepherd's pie" to be used when the meat is mutton or lamb, with the suggested origin being that shepherds are concerned with sheep and not cattle, however this may be an example of folk etymology.


  • The Australian meat pie with a layer of mashed potato replacing the usual pastry crust, is also known as a Shepherds Pie. This variant is also known in New Zealandmarker, as a potato top pie.

  • In the United Statesmarker a similar dish is called cowboy pie. In New Englandmarker the most common recipe for shepherd's pie consists of ground beef, canned creamed corn, and mashed potatoes.

  • In Jordanmarker, Syriamarker and Lebanonmarker, and Palestine a similar dish is referred to as "Siniyet Batata" (literally meaning a plate of potatoes), or "Kibbet Batata".

  • In Russiamarker, a similar dish is called "Картофельная запеканка" (Kartofel'naya zapekanka, or "Potato baked pudding").

  • A similar British dish made with fish is a fish pie

See also


  1. An A to Z of Food and Drink by John Ayto, published by Oxford University Press, 2002
  2. Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management by Isabella Beeton, 1861.
  3. Cassell's New Universal Cookery Book by Lizzie Heritage published by Cassell and Company, 1894
  4. The Constance Spry Cookery Book by Constance Spry and Rosemary Hume, J M Dent & Sons, 1956
  5. The Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition, Oxford University Press, 1933
  6. Concise Oxford English Dictionary, Eleventh Edition (Revised), Oxford University Press, 2006
  7. The Chambers Dictionary, Ninth Edition, published by Chambers Harrap Publishing Ltd, 2003

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