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Any South African will tell you that we turn to the kitchen and healing properties of good home-cooked food in moments of crisis. Hence the theory that a sumptuous shepherd’s pie can alleviate feelings of ‘home sickness’ when far from the shores of home and cure the common cold. However, in all honesty, who needs an excuse to whip up a decadent shepherd’s pie on a wintery evening?

Now for the facts. Herderspastei or shepherd’s pie is a tasty meat and potato dish that can be served with salad and fresh beetroot when the weather is hot or with butternut mash and winter greens on a chilly winter’s night. This gorgeously meaty dish incorporates beef, vegetables, stock, and lashings of creamy mash potato. Topped with cheese and baked to perfection in the oven, this tasty, versatile dish is a weekly staple in many a South African home.

South African food

Herderspastei genuinely South African?

However, sadly, this dish is not a traditional South African food and is based on British culture. During the eighteenth century, potatoes were considered a cheap food source for the more impoverished cottage communities. However, their ingenuity in combining potato and meat started the global love of the humble cottage pie. You are probably asking whether cottage pie and shepherds’ pie are the same dishes, and if not, which came first? It sounds like the start of that age-old debate, which came first the chicken or the egg!

Cottage pie vs. Shepherds pie

The cottage pie made its first appearance in the eighteenth century, while the shepherds’ pie made its first debut in the middle of the nineteenth century. Both dishes combine meat, potato, and vegetables, but the type of meat makes the difference. Cottage pies are made with beef, while the shepherds’ pies are made with lamb. This combination of meat and potato was and still is an excellent way of using up leftovers that often get binned—such a tasty way to save money.

And so the South African cottage pie was born! Through their love of all things food, South Africans have accepted the shepherds’ and cottage pie into their culture and recreated it using their flair for flavour and spices. With all this talk of meat, potatoes, and cheese, your stomach must be rumbling!

Check out our favourite herderspastei resep below.

Shepherds pie with cream cheese

What you need:

  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 4 potatoes (medium) peeled and cubed
  • 500g lean mince                       
  • 1 slice of bread decrusted and crumbled
  • 1 egg (large) beaten
  • 1 tomato (large) peeled and chopped
  • 10 ml worcestersous
  • 30 ml tomato paste
  • 60 ml cream cheese
  • 50 ml sour cream
  • 50 ml cheddar cheese grated
  • 1 tbsp sunflower /olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • Smokey paprika

Serving suggestion:

Fresh beetroot salad (Beetroot slaai)

Serves 4

What to do:

  • Preheat the oven to 180 C and grease a medium-sized oven dish.
  • Heat the oil in a large frying pan and gently cook the onions until soft.
  • Add the mincemeat to the onions and continue to fry until browned and thoroughly cooked.
  • Next, add the large chopped tomato and, using a wooden spoon, stir through the mince and onions.
  • Add the Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, and a pinch of salt and pepper for flavour. Stir the mixture well.
  • Remove the frying pan from the heat and slowly add the egg and breadcrumbs. Mix well.
  • Place the cubed potatoes into a pot of water and boil on low heat until soft. Use a fork to test the potatoes are soft and cooked. Avoid over-boiling them as they will turn mushy.
  • Drain the water from the potatoes and place them in a large mixing dish.
  • Use a fork or potato masher to mash the potatoes into a smooth consistency.
  • Slowly pour the sour cream and cottage cheese into the potato mash and stir through. It’s best to slowly add the sour cream and cottage cheese, mixing all the time to prevent the mixture from becoming too runny.
  • Place the cooked mince into the greased oven dish. Spoon the creamy potato mash on top of the mince, smooth the potato layer with a spatula.
  • Sprinkle the grated cheese and smokey paprika generously on top of the potato layer. Bake for twenty-five minutes or until the cheese has turned a gorgeous crispy brown colour.

How to serve it up:

Dish up a delicious cheesy portion onto each plate and garnish with a green salad and fresh beetroot slices. The great thing about the shepherds’ pie is its simply endless range of versatility. Many recipes call for carrots and peas to be added to the mince, which is an excellent way of encouraging veggie-shy kiddies to eat their greens. Try out different variations of herderspastei resepte and be as creative as you like. Besides, you have the main ingredients of any fabulous dish, cheese, and potato! 

So if it’s a chilly winter’s evening or you are simply missing home, it’s time to dig out that resep vir herderspastei and tuck into the delicious taste of home.

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