Cumberland Pie is a wonderfully comforting dish. Similar to shepherd’s pie, it’s a dish you’ll be craving when the weather cools.
Cumberland pie is a wonderfully comforting casserole of ground beef and vegetables topped with mashed potato, bread crumbs and melted cheese. Is this not shepherd’s pie? No, it is not, please read on…
There are 3 British pies that are very similar with subtle differences and I’m here to explain them all. Shepherd’s pie is made with lamb; cottage pie is made with beef and Cumberland pie can be made with either.
The topping is slightly different on the Cumberland pie than the others, which are traditionally just plain mashed potato, this pie comes topped with cheese and bread crumbs. This would explain why you see shepherd’s pie these days’ in various ways as it is seemingly a combination of all 3.
Cumberland pie is rarely seen unless you’re in the county of Cumbria situated in North West of Britain which lies in the most beautiful area of the Lake District. It is one of the top tourist destinations and this is where you will see the traditional recipe served by locals and eaten by tourists.
Stemming from Medieval times, the pie used to be made with a pastry crust, but has evolved over the year into the use of mashed potato, which does make it easier and faster to make.
For this recipe, I’m making this pie with cubed beef. The choice of vessel is entirely up to the cook, but it does need to be oven-proof. My preferred method (and which aides in an easy cleanup) is using the same pan to cook the beef and vegetables for the finished dish. This time around I used my cast iron Dutch oven for a unique presentation, but any 1-quart baking/casserole dish will work as well.
If you’re in the mood for some lamb, you can make the traditional shepherd’s pie I posted earlier this year.
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