Churchill's Pub Got It Wrong? Shepherd's or Cottage Pie? Who Knows?

Categories: Fuming Foodie
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I happened to stop by Churchill's Pub in Little Haiti yesterday for lunch and was blessed to find jill-of-all-trades Barbara Eisenhower there. She prepared a fresh batch of shepherd's pie. After eating the delectable beef meal ($6), I researched the history of the dish and found that the folks at my favorite joint just might have gotten it wrong.

According to several official-sounding sources, including British publication the Guardian, as well as -- which cites Food and Drink in Britain: From the Stone Age to the 19th Century, The Oxford Companion to Food, and An A to Z of Food and Drink -- shepherd's pie is made with lamb. When beef is used, the dish is referred to as cottage pie, not shepherd's.

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Photo by Ily Goyanes
"Shepherd's" pie at Churchill's Pub.
I wondered about this, because you don't get any more British than Dave Daniels, the owner of Churchill's and creator of the recipe used at the pub. Could it be that he, the epitome of British sensibility, was wrong? Says Daniels: "If you go back to the way things used to be in England, families would get together for Sunday lunch, and usually a roast beef or roast lamb were served. Whatever was left over would get chopped up the next day and turned into shepherd's pie. So, traditionally, both can be used."

So what's the controversy about? "The consensus in America is that cottage pie includes beef and so on, but in England, both meats are used," Daniels explains.

It seems that food experts have based their stance on cottage versus shepherd's largely on a single piece of information. A guy by the name of James Woodforde, who was a foodie in 1791 before it was en vogue, wrote in his dinner diary: "cottage pye and ros beef." Not only could this guy not spell, but also this reference is rather vague. Couldn't it mean that he ate cottage pie and roast beef as two dishes during the same meal? That's what it sounds like to me.

Whether you call it shepherd's or cottage pie, it's a savory, hearty meal that will put some meat on your bones. The type of meat is yet to be determined.

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Location Info


Churchill's Pub

5501 NE 2nd Ave., Miami, FL

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They used to serve the best Shepherd's Pie in the Cedars of Lebanon Hospital. I used to walk with my friend from our court jobs, to their employee cafeteria. It was so delicious, that we were always sorry when eating the last bites, not wanting it to end. I had the one at Churchill's, which is very tasty, as you write, but not as delectable as the one at Cedars, but then again, so many important people have been born in this hospital,which used to be private, and which was sadly taken over by Jackson.It's good to know that Churchill's still serves it. I don't like the place because it always looks so dark, and creepy, like where vampires would hang out, but then, again, do they have takeout? 

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