|Place of origin||England|
|Region or state||Western Europe|
|Main ingredients||Mashed potato crust and meat filling|
The recipe has many variations, but the defining ingredients are ground red meat cooked in a gravy or sauce with onions, and topped with a layer of mashed potato before it is baked. Sometimes other vegetables are added to the filling, such as peas, celery or carrots. The pie is sometimes also gratineed with grated cheese to create a layer of melted cheese on top.
The term shepherd's pie did not appear until 1854, and was initially used synonymously with cottage pie, regardless of whether the meat was beef or mutton. However, in the UK since the 20th century, the term shepherd's pie is used more commonly when the meat is lamb.
The French name hachis Parmentier is documented in French in 1900, and in English in 1898. A hachis is anything finely chopped; the English word 'hash' is borrowed from it. 'Parmentier' is Antoine-Augustin Parmentier, after whom many potato dishes were named, as he was instrumental in the promotion of the potato in France in the 18th century.
In early cookery books, the dish was a means of using leftover roasted meat of any kind, and the pie dish was lined on the sides and bottom with mashed potato, as well as having a mashed potato crust on top.
Hachis parmentier is an economical way of using leftover meat, especially from pot-au-feu. Henri-Paul Pellaprat lists it in his section on leftovers, as does the "bible" of bourgeois cuisine, Mme. St-Ange, under the name hachis de bœuf au gratin.
A more elaborate version in 1921 by Auguste Escoffier consisted of a baked potato whose contents were emptied, mixed with diced meat and sauce lyonnaise, and returned to the potato shells or skins to be baked. This version is rarely encountered.
Variations and similar dishes
Other potato-topped pies include:
- The modern Cumberland pie is a version with either beef or lamb and a layer of breadcrumbs and cheese on top. In medieval times, and modern-day Cumbria, the pastry crust had a filling of meat with fruits and spices.
- In Quebec, a variation on the cottage pie is called Pâté chinois. It is made with ground beef on the bottom layer, canned (creamed) sweetcorn in the middle, and mashed potato on top.
- The shepherdless pie is a vegetarian version made without meat, or a vegan version made without meat and dairy.
- In the Netherlands, a very similar dish called philosopher's stew (Dutch: filosoof) often adds ingredients like beans, apples, prunes, or apple sauce.
- In Brazil, a dish called in Portuguese: escondidinho (hidden) refers to the fact that a manioc puree hides a layer of sun-dried meat. The dish often includes cheese and chicken or cod is sometimes used instead of beef.
- A St. Stephen's Day pie is made with turkey and ham.
- Fish pie is another part of English cuisine, made of fish and seafood in a béchamel sauce all topped with mashed potato.
- In Irish this dish is known as pióg an aoire.
- In Argentina a similar dish is known as "pastel de papa" (Potato pie)
- In Uruguay a similar dish is known as "pastel de carne" (Meat pie)
- In Indonesia a similar dish is known as "pastel tutup" (closed pie), and is usually made with chicken and several vegetables such as carrot, green peas and boiled eggs, all topped with mashed potatoes.
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- The Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition, Oxford University Press, 1933
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- Trésor de la langue française informatisé, s.v.
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