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Meat and potato pie. A recipe from European cuisine

Meat and potato puree pie recipe

Meat and potato puree pie has British origins and is the right recipe to talk about European cuisine.


Meat and potato puree pie recipe

European cuisine

Italians and French have created the basis of modern and contemporary cuisine in Europe and Western society. Perhaps this is the reason we sometimes forget that Italian cuisine is also contaminated.

Here I would like to reflect on one historical passage. That transformed a continent from a simple geographical puzzle to a cultural union.

When the conflict between the Roman Empire and the barbarians, like the first called the foreigners, ends, the confrontation begins.

The Western part finally detaches itself from the Eastern part of the Roman Empire and, after the Mediterranean and the East had been the main focus for centuries, turns its gaze towards the North and Europe.

The clash-meeting from which Europe was born.

Cultural models different from the previous ones took shape, creating new realities that combined traditions and lifestyles of the Italic and Mediterranean populations with those of the continent. The phenomenon was also accelerated by the rise of Christianity throughout the continent. Religion is a mystical but also a historical and cultural phenomenon.

Think, for example, of religious prescriptions in the field of food and how different human cultures are united or divided according to the dominant religion, regardless of being a believer.

That between Romans and barbarians ‘was also a conflict and an exchange of food values’ as food historian Montanari has written.

The culture of bread, wine, and olive oil met the culture of meat, milk, and lard (and later butter). While Roman society is based on agriculture: the domestication of nature and animals and the ability to transform what nature offers. The barbarian culture is a pre-sedentary production model based on hunting, herding, and spontaneous use of what the forest gives.

From this encounter, a new cultural, social, food, political and economic model took shape.

The birth of the Italian gastronomic model took place slowly within what was Europe at that time: not yet a community, more like the same container.

Meat and potato puree pie

Meat and potato pie

What is it? Minced and seasoned meat, often already cooked, covered with potatoes, and baked to form a crust.

Depending on the occasion, the pie could be wrapped and covered with buttery shortcrust pastry. But its origin is linked to the need to recycle leftover roast meat or pieces too small to use for other preparations or less valuable cuts.

It is an authentic homemade recipe widespread in Europe and the western world.

Many recipes track the flow of European migration to the Americas and around the world. Think of the pasta for Italians, for instance. Or take this recipe that in Australia, for example, a country with Anglo-Saxon culture, shepherd’s pie is a national recipe.

Ireland and Britain dispute the origin of the dish.
The first mention of Cottage pie (with beef) dates back to the late 18th century. Shepherd’s pie, traditionally made with lamb, was not known until almost the middle of the 19th century.

It is a dish with peasant origins. Making this dish, the home cook recycled and nourished at the same time. The shepherd’s pie was eaten hot while taking the sheep to pasture or as a single dish on cold winter evenings.

Even if baked meat casseroles have been known since the Middle Ages, it is from Ireland and Britain that the recipe spread to the rest of Europe. In France, the recipe for hachis Parmentier is named after the agronomist and nutritionist Antoine Parmentier.
But we find similar dishes around all Northern Europe. And not only.


Pasticcio di carne e patate

Meat pie in Italy

As I wrote above, the tradition of meat pies was a cooking practice known since the Middle Ages throughout Europe (without potatoes, of course). Even in Italy.

In Artusi, for example, we find a recipe for meat pie and one for making puff pastries stuffed with meat that remember the Anglo-Irish version with the dough wrapping around the filling. The sister recipes often have elements similar and others more related to the place.

Over time this preparation has been lost, but I am sure someone remembers similar dishes where leftovers were mixed with vegetables and then covered with other vegetables or a layer of sliced potatoes or soft mash.

At home, there was this habit of layering leftover meat sauce and potatoes or other vegetables.

My version combines Bolognese meat sauce and traditional mashed potatoes. But you can use whatever you have or prefer as a base.

For example, if you have some leftover roast or boiled meat, sauté the carrot, celery, and onion, mix in the chopped leftover meat and, if you like, add some tomato paste. Cook for a few minutes and then prepare the meat pie, covering the base with a layer of mashed potatoes.

You can choose a large pan or some molds for mono-portion.

It is a warm and comforting pot, suitable for Sunday lunch or one dish on a cold evening. I’ll serve it with a glass of red wine or a beer.

Buona cucina, Monica

Cook with me

Among the recipes with an evident European origin, there is also Certosino cake, an old medieval bread cake of Bologna.

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Meat and potato puree pie recipe

Food tips

If using leftovers, prepare the recipe paying attention to the size of the pan and the height of the layers. It is a recipe where you can practice the art of the Italian “Quanto Basta” formula (I talk about it here).

During the first part of cooking, cover the pan with a lid or aluminum foil.

Meat and potato puree pie made with ragù or roast leftovers is well cooked and eaten.
But if you can make it a day or two in advance, it doesn’t hurt.

Meat and potato pie recipe

serves 4-6
List of the Ingredients

potato puree

600 g potatoes
60 g Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
50 g butter
milk, 350 ml
salt, nutmeg to taste

for the meat filling

650 g of meat sauce or leftovers for recycling.
Or, for those who don’t have any leftovers to recycle:600 g di carne di manzo macinata grossolanamente

white onion, 1
carrot, 1
celery stalk, 1
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons Barbecue sauce
1 tablespoon Tabasco
3 tablespoons flour
1 small glass of red wine
100 g butter
1/2 liter water or stock
Olive oil and butter to taste


Make a soft but not runny mash.
To speed things up, boil the potatoes, already peeled and cut into pieces, for about 12-15 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.

Drain, mash with a potato masher, and mix with Parmesan cheese, butter, and enough milk to make it soft and tasty. Add salt and a sprinkling of nutmeg. Stir and set aside.

Filling and preparation

If you use ready-made ragout (here is a link to the recipe for Bolognese ragout), assemble and cook.

If you use leftover roast meat, go back to the text above and proceed as indicated.

On the contrary, if you are starting from scratch, read from here. 

Clean and chop the onion, carrot, and celery as you would for sautéing, in small pieces and without mixing the vegetables.

In a high-sided saucepan, slowly fry the finely chopped onion in a bit of oil and butter.

Let it brown before adding the carrot.

Cook for a few minutes, then add the celery and stir.

After another two minutes on low heat, add the meat and stir until the mince has mixed well with the vegetables in the fry.

Add broth or water and tomato paste and stir again.

Now add all the other ingredients.

Stir, bring to a boil, lower the heat again and leave to cook over medium-low heat and a half-covered pan for about 40-45 minutes.

Remove the lid halfway through cooking.

The meat is ready when the liquid is almost completely absorbed.

Spread the meat on the bottom of the baking tray and even out.

Cover with an even layer of mashed potatoes. Depending on your taste, make a thin layer or a couple of centimeters high. Add a few flakes of butter and cover the pan.

Bake in a static, preheated oven at 180C degrees for 30 minutes.
In the end, remove the pan cover and raise the temperature to make the crusty, just a few minutes.

If you don’t serve the meat and potato puree pie straight away, put it back in the fridge and reheat in the oven at 200C degrees for 5-6 minutes, maximum 10.

Bolognese ragù recipe

Italian potato puree recipe

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