A Cook's Diary

Is It Cottage Pie, Shepherd’s Pie or Farmer’s Pie?

In the recipe archive, there are three dishes — here, here and here — that I call farmer’s pie. All are baked dishes consisting of two layers — a meat stew at the bottom and mashed potatoes on top.

More than once, I’ve been told that they are shepherd’s pies or cottage pies but I have resisted calling them either.

Cottage pie traditionally refers to minced beef with a mashed potato topping. Shepherd’s pie is a term that came about a hundred years later and it refers to mashed potato topped pies with lamb or mutton as the filling. So, a similar pie with a chicken filling wouldn’t strictly be a cottage pie. Nor would it be a shepherd’s pie. Ergo, I like the term farmer’s pie better.

There is some confusion outside the UK between shepherds pie and cottage pie.

Basically shepherds look after sheep, hence a lamb or mutton pie is called a shepherds’ pie (but not shepherd’s pie if you want to be pedantic)…

Any British beef and mashed potato pie is called a cottage pie. The name “shepherds pie” does not appear to be old, first appearing in the 19th Century, although the dish itself must be much older. It may well be that the name cottage pie was used for all pies of this type before the term shepherds pie came into use… [Source]

The issue about the proper name for a meat pie with a mashed potato topping seems to be a UK thing. This kind of pie is found in French (hachis parmentier), Spanish and Latin American (pastel de papas and pastelón de papas), North American (cowboy pie and pâté chinois) and Middle Eastern (siniyet batata) cuisines, and the political correctness of the names doesn’t appear to be an issue at all.

Last night, took a batch of pork menudo, topped it with buttery mashed potatoes, baked the stew and potatoes together… what should I call it then? Maybe, a magsasaka pie?

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