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Cumberland Pie

Introduction & method

Originating from the old county of Cumberland in north-west England (now part of Cumbria), this 'pie' differs from cottage pie and shepherd's pie by having a crunchy cheesy crust on top.

Cumberland Pie Recipe

About the Meat

Confusingly, the meat in a Cumberland pie can be beef or lamb, and it can be minced or in bite-sized chunks. I'm using minced beef in this recipe - if you decide to use chunks of meat you'll need to cook it for longer, possibly 1½ hours until the meat is tender.

Veg Prep

Peel and dice the onion. Finely dice the celery and dice the carrot.

Make the Meaty Part

Heat some oil in a heavy-bottomed pan or casserole and gently cook the onion for about five minutes. Add the meat, break it up with a spatula and turn it quite frequently to get it browned all over. Add the stock and the tomato puree, then add the celery and carrot, the bay leaf, sage, thyme and pepper. Cook for about ten minutes then taste it - add salt if it needs it but maybe it won't if the stock is salty. Simmer for fifteen minutes with a lid on. If the sauce is too runny after this time, you can thicken it with a slurry of one teaspoon of cornflour mixed with a little water. Add it to the sauce and cook for a few minutes until the sauce has thickened. Remove from heat.

Make Mashed Potatoes

You want floury potatoes for this - Maris Piper, King Edwards, Yukon Gold or simillar. Peel the potatoes and cut them into chunks. Try to get the chunks all the same size. Put them in a pot, cover with water, bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for about 15 minutes until the spuds are tender. Drain them, then mash with milk, butter, white pepper and salt.

Assemble and Bake

Heat your oven to 180° Celsius (356° Fahrenheit) for a fan/convection/airfryer oven, or 200° Celsius (392° Fahrenheit) for a conventonal one, or gas 6. Transfer the meaty sauce to an ovenproof dish and spread the mashed potato over it. Use a palette knife to get a smooth top. Mix together the grated cheese and breadcrumbs and sprinkle this all over the potato. Bake for 30 minutes until the top is golden and crispy.

The video above is from the Keef Cooks YouTube channel. Click here to see the video recipe of Cumberland Pie on YouTube.


Ingredients & Info

 500 grams minced beef
 1 medium onion
 1 medium carrot
 1 stick celery
 500 ml beef stock
 1-2 tbsp tomato puree
 1 bay leaf
 half a tsp thyme
 half a tsp sage
  salt and black pepper to taste
 750 grams floury potatoes (e.g. Maris Piper, King Edward)
 30 grams butter
 2 tbsp milk
  salt and white pepper to taste
 30 grams cheddar cheese
 30 grams coarse breadcrumbs


Oil for sautéeing.

US Customary/Imperial

Serves 4 -6
Prep time: 10 minutes.
Cooking time: 50 minutes.
Total time: 1 hour.