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    1. Shepherd's Pie recipes over time

      At the moment some people will say that Shepherd's Pie and Cottage Pie are the same thing (mince meat, sometimes vegetables, covered with potato mash and oven baked), and other people will say...

      At the moment some people will say that Shepherd's Pie and Cottage Pie are the same thing (mince meat, sometimes vegetables, covered with potato mash and oven baked), and other people will say that Shepherd's Pie must be minced lamb or minced mutton and Cottage Pie must be minced beef. I don't care, call it what you want. But I was interested about what people said in the past, so here are some old recipes I found in the Internet Archive.

      One of the problems I'm having is that some books use "shepherd's pie" and some use "shepherd pie" and the OCR of older books is not great so searching for the correct terms doesn't always return the books, because the OCR is saying something like "Shepherd He" instead. I'll be poking around a it more on Sunday and adding a bit more as I find them.

      Lots of these recipes are submitted to news papers and magazines by readers.

      1850 - 1899

      Rural New Yorker 1850 Edit: sorry, it's 1916


      "Shepherd Pie. — The left-over meat should be sliced instead of chopped for this recipe. Butter a baking dish and cover the bottom with hot mashed potatoes. Pour on the gravy and sliced meat, cover with more mashed potatoes. Pile the potatoes on lightly and leave the top uneven. Dot with butter and place in hot oven for 10 minutes."

      Nor'west Farmer 1882 EDIT, sorry, this is 1915 (I was looking at the IA date, not the date printed on the page)


      mentions that scraps of left over meat can be made into shepherd pie

      La cuisine anglaise et la pâtisserie : traité de l'alimentation en Angleterre au point de vue pratique, théorique, anecdotique et descriptif 1894


      I don't speak French but I'm pretty sure they're asking for beef cuts here.

      Cookery by Amy G Richards. 1895


      The recipe says "1 lb cold meat - 1/2 gill gravy - 6 large potatoes boiled and mashed - pepper and salt - 1 tablespoon milk - 1 oz butter. Cut the meat into small pieces, sprinkle it with pepper and salt, put it into a pudding dish, pour the gravy over. Add milk, butter, pepper and salt to potatoes, cover the meat with them, smooth with a knife and mark over with a fork, or the potatoes may be put through a forcing tube. Bake three quarters of an hour. Serve hot."

      1900 - 1920

      The complete Indian housekeeper & cook : giving the duties of mistress and servants, the general management of the house, and practical recipes for cooking in all its branches (Caution, lots of colonialism) 1909


      The book mentions Shepherd's Pie: "This is a form of potato pie made with mince, or it may be made with raw collops, or raw meat minced fine and seasoned with pepper and salt." (A collop is a slice of meat.)

      The recipe for potato pie appears a page or so earlier: The recipe says "Potato Pie is seldom seen in India. Mash a sufficiency of potatoes thoroughly with milk, pepper, and salt. Make a good thin gravy, and use this to cover thin slices of mutton sufficient to half fill a pie-dish. Pile your mashed potatoes over, trim neatly, and score with a fork. Push into the oven, and serve very hot." (interesting to me that the scoring the potato with a fork appears so early)

      Magnet cream separator cook book 1910


      The recipe says "Shepherd Pie - put cooked meat through chopper, season with salt, pepper, and onion juice, moisten with gravy, mash potatoes, add a beaten egg, melted butter (size of an egg), place this on meat, dot with pieces of butter and bake until thoroughly hot and nicely brown on top. A good dish for leftovers".

      Onion juice, or thinly sliced onion, become more common in the early 2th century.

      The Cook County cook book 1912


      "SHEPHERD PIE.— Spread over a small platter, thoroughly buttered, warm mashed potatoes, mixed with enough milk to make it a little soft, and set in the oven to brown. When stiffened enough, and as brown as pie crust, pour over it minced cold mutton, warmed in a little thickened gravy. Is a nice breakfast dish. —-Mrs. J. R. Bogen, 2722 S. Dearborn St., Chicago, 111."

      I find it interesting that people's names and addresses are published. This recipe specifies mutton (probably cold leftover mutton). I find it interesting that she suggests it's a nice breakfast dish, and deconstructs the formula by putting the browned mash under the meat.

      And here's a picture of South Dearborn Street in 1905. https://www.bridgemanimages.com/en/barnes-crosby-fl-1900/south-dearborn-street-chicago-illinois-usa-c-1905-b-w-photo/black-and-white-photograph/asset/6354687

      The same book has a recipe for Cottage Pie on the same page. Here's a cut 'n' paste. "COTTAGE PIE. — Chop cold roast 'beef or veal fine. To each 2 cups of meat add 1 teaspoon onion juice, 1 teaspoon fine-cut parsley or 1 tablespoon chopped celery, 1 tablespoon chopped green peppers, if liked, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 cup gravy stock or boiling water. Mix all together, pack in a buttered dish, cover with a layer of hot, very soft mashed potatoes, about 1 inch thick. Brush the top with milk or wthite of t^^. Bake in a hot oven until the potato is well browned. — Mrs. M. Evans, 2019 S. Clark St., Chicago, 111."

      To me this reinforces the point that shepherd's pie and cottage pie were both ways to use up meat leftovers, and while some people were making a distinction between lamb and other meats lots of people weren't.

      Recipes: Proved and Approved 1913


      "Mince fine, cold meat of any kind and two small onions, season with pepper and salt. Place in an ordinary pudding dish, pour over all some gravy. Boil six large potatoes, mash, and add one beaten egg, a little salt and a tablespoon of butter, beat well, then spread over top of meat and place in hot oven to brown."

      This adds an egg to the mash, and uses more onion than we've seen so far.

      Low cost recipes by Harbison, Edith Gwendolyn, comp 1914


      "Chop some cold cooked mutton quite fine. Measure and for each pint add salt and pepper to taste, 1/2 teaspoonful of onion juice, a dash of curry powder and 1/2 pint of brown sauce. Mix and spread in a greased dish. Cover with a thick layer of hot mashed potato, dabbling the top with a little beaten egg yolk. Brown in a quick oven."

      The meat is quite specific: cold, cooked, mutton. I'm not quite sure what 1/2 teaspoon of onion juice is going to achieve here, it doesn't sound like enough to do anything.

      * Cook book 365, no. 2* by Pechin, Mary Shelley 1915


      "Cover the bottom of a well greased baking dish, with mashed potatoes, if the potatoes seem too stiff, add a little milk, then fill in the dish with beef cut into small pieces, add a little onion juice and the gravy left from roast, or some hot water seasoned with salt and pepper, and a little melted butter, cover the dish with a layer of mashed potato sprinkled over with bits of butter, place in hot oven and just reheat the meat and potatoes. Serve hot with some pickles."

      More onion juice, and also this covers the bottom and top of the dish with mash.

      The Kitchen Encyclopaedia 1916


      "This is made in the same way as Mutton and Potato Pie (p. 333), but with less onions — about 1 tablespoon chopped onion. The surface is either roughened with a fork or smoothed down with the blade of a knife, brushed over with yolk of egg and the whole baked in a moderate oven till browned"

      Here's the recipe for Mutton and Potato Pie

      "Line a pie-dish with alternate layers of sliced parboiled potatoes, sliced blanched onions, and small thin slices of cooked mutton. Season with salt and pepper, moisten with stock, cover with a greased paper and bake for 1 hour in a moderate oven. Remove the paper 15 minutes before serving, to brown the potatoes."

      Make a little meat, go a long way: Use savoury stews and meat pies (with Italian translation (US Department of Agriculture) 1917


      "This is the name of a meat pie with a mashed potato crust browned in the oven".

      Here's the recipe for Meat Pie.

      "MEAT PIES Another good way to use a little meat. Have you ever used rice, cornmeal mush, or hominy for a crust? This is less work than a pastry crust and saves wheat.

      4 cups cooked corn meal, rice or hominy
      1/8 teaspoon pepper
      1 onion
      1 teaspoon of fat
      2 cups tomato
      1 pound raw meat or left-over meat cut up small
      1/2 teaspoon of salt

      Melt the fat, add the sliced onion, and, if raw meat is used, add it and stir until the red color disappears. Add the tomato and seasoning. If cooked meat is used, add it with the tomato and seasoning, after the onion is browned, and heat through. Grease a baking dish, put in a layer of cereal, add the meat and gravy, and cover with the cereal dotted with fat. Bake half an hour."

      And then just because, here's a recipe that I'm not going to comment on just to show how far some recipes deviate from the lamb / mutton mince plus mash formula:

      Northfield Press 1930

      Mackeral Shepherd Pie


      "Shepherd Pie with its fluffy topping of mashed potatoes is well-known everywhere, and when fish takes the place of meat in the pie its popularity grows apace. To make Mackerel Shepherd Pie drain an 8 ounce can of diced carrots and add to half a cup of canned peas. Stir gently into two cups of thick white sauce. Flake the fish from a one-pound can of mackerel and fork very carefully into the sauce so that it remains in fairly large pieces. Pour into a buttered baking dish and pile fluffy, well-seasoned mashed potatoes on top. Brush with melted butter and bake in moderate oven until very hot and the potatoes are a golden brown."

      37 votes