When I was a kid one of my mom’s signature dishes was Shepherd’s Pie. I didn’t realize at the time that what she made was technically considered Cottage Pie because she used ground beef. This yummy concoction was a favorite of the men in my family for its classic combination of meat and potatoes. A true Shepherd’s Pie is made with ground lamb, and I occasionally make the same dish with ground venison and call it Hunter’s Pie.
This is a truly authentic Irish dish, and comes in a variety of versions. Some styles (like my mother’s) have a tomato based sauce coating the meat. Others have a sauce more like brown gravy. Though my mom didn’t use wine in her recipe, I like the flavor it adds (you can leave it out if you prefer). The vegetables that are added to the meat are really up to the preference of the chef. They almost always include carrots, onions, and green peas. Other popular options are: green beans, parsnips, mushrooms, corn, lima beans, and celery.
Since I made this dish for an Irish friend, I tried to make it the way his mother does. It has less vegetables than the version my mom makes and it was a huge hit with my family.