Being born and bred in Yorkshire and both parents coming from Lancashire, I certainly have Northern roots. Going to university in Bath, I am constantly subject to ‘Northern banter’, with many people believing that anywhere above the M5 is the ‘gruesome North’! Coal mines, farmers, chips and gravy… negative stereotypes are plentiful. Though one stereotype that I am lucky to claim is true is that of the hearty home cooking. During my schooldays, on bringing friends home for tea (Northern lingo for ‘dinner’ or ‘supper’), the request for mummy Crossley’s shepherd’s pie was to be expected. Its legacy has even spread to Bath and my university friends all love it!
The beauty of this dish is that it is different every time- even if two are made at exactly the same time by the same person with the same ingredients- so there is always a few seconds silence before we give the approval! For me the sloppier and the more gravy the better! It is a great dish for sharing and everyone getting ‘stuck in’, helping themselves and passing plates around giving the mealtime a very relaxed and family ambience. Though beware- it is terribly more-ish and never lasts long! On the rare occasion that there are any leftovers, they are guaranteed to be picked away at and finished before dawn of the following day!
Shepherd’s pie is traditionally made with lamb, with cottage pie being its beef alternative. However in my family, it is always shepherd’s pie, whatever the chosen meat may be! Onions and carrots are a must and the key to success is the generous amounts of gravy- stock cube and bisto poured over the layer of mince before the buttered mash (must be made creamy using milk!) is carefully layered on top. With or without cheese is a case of personal preference- though we always have one of each to please all! The key: never be sparing with the butter!
*photgraph taken from http://www.yorkshirenet.co.uk/yorkshire-dales/landscape.htm