An excellent family dish

We enjoyed our shepherd’s pie yesterday and I shared what I’d learned about it with the family. Eliza Acton doesn’t seem to have included any recipe like it in her 1845 cookery book, but she does have a recipe for something involving potatoes and meat:

Modern Potato pasty

(An excellent family dish)

  • 2-3 lbs mutton cutlets
  • flour for dredging
  • salt and pepper/cayenne pepper
  • stock or water
  • 1 tbsp mushroom catsup or  Harvey’s sauce
  • mashed potato to cover (1 oz butter, I tbsp milk or cream to each 1 lb potato)

A tin mould of the construction shown above with a perforated movable top, and a small valve to allow the escape of the steam, must be had for this pasty, which is a good family dish, and which may be varied in numberless ways.
Arrange at the bottom of the mould two to three pounds of mutton cutlets freed according to taste, from all or from the greater portion of the fat, then washed, lightly dredged  on both sides with flour seasoned with salt and pepper or cayenne.
Pour to them sufficient broth or water to make the gravy, and add to it at pleasure, a tablespoonful of mushroom catsup or of Harvey’s sauce.
have ready boiled and smoothly mashed, with about an ounce of butter, and a spoonful of milk or cream to each pound, as many good potatoes as will for a crust to the pasty of quite three inches thick.
Put the cover on the mould and arrange these (mashed potato) equally upon it, leaving them a little rough on the surface.
Bake the pasty in a moderate oven from three-quarters of an hour to an hour and a quarter, according to the size and contents. Pin a folded napkin neatly round the mould, before it is served, and have ready a hot plate to receive the cover, which must not be lifted off until the pasty s on the table.

In other words:

  1. place mutton cutlets in bottom of mould
  2. add stock or water
  3. place the lid on top,
  4. arrange the potato on the lid
  5. cook for ¾ – 1¼h
  6. serve in the mould but remove lid and potato topping onto a serving dish

I suppose this device ensure the potato wasn’t soggy and was nice and crisp, like a pie crust would be.

Eliza suggests other fillings

  • chicken
  • veal and oysters
  • pork chops, sage, onion
  • partridge and mushrooms
  • rabbit and mushrooms
  • highly seasoned salmon, herbs and shrimps, white wine
  • cod/mullet/mackerel/salt fish with hard-boiled eggs, butter, cayenne, anchovy essence and a mashed parsnip topping
  • veal and sweetbreads

These suggestion sound very tasty, and i think probably more appealing than the mutton chops in the first recipe!

This is what I wrote about shepherd’s pie:

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