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Cheesy Cumberland Pie with Worcestershire Sauce

Cumberland pie is a variant on a classic shepherd’s pie featuring a minced beef base with leeks and cheesy mash and a breadcrumb topping.

This dish takes around 75-90 minutes to cook but it can be made a day or two in advance and thrown in the oven later if you wish.

Portrait close up overhead image of an individual cheesy cumberland pie served in a white gratin dish

Cheesy Shepherds Pie Variant

I’ve often alluded to, and mocked, our irrational desires to “own” food and food names.

But there is one that I always fall into and it is the Shepherds pie. There are many variants and for some reason, food writers want to refer to them all as the same thing.

This cheesy, almost traditional or “new traditional”, cheesy Cumberland pie recipe is on of many variants on the idea of a mashed potato-topped pie.

Aside from Shepherd’s pie, which is made with lamb, I also have a cottage pie which is made with beef, and a shepherdess pie, which by necessity is meat-free. I also play with similar ideas in my sausage and mash pie and a fun fish finger pie!

The name Cumberland pie dates back to medieval times, and older recipes refer to it as a “game pie” that often contained fruit.

The variant that I cook dates back to the early 20th century. I do incorporate some sweetness into the meat as a nod to the fruit.

But I use ketchup, sacrilege to some, but my Mom always added ketchup and I love it! We then have a cheesy mash topping, of course, that cheese is sharp mature cheddar cheese.

Portrait close up image of a spoonful of cheesy cumberland pie with a whole pie served in a white gratin dish in the background

Frequently Asked Questions.

What potatoes to use?

This recipe relies on a good quality mashed potato and as a result, you want a nice floury or mealy potato. The following are all varieties worth considering:

King Edwards, Maris Piper, Estima, Russet, Idaho, Desiree (at a push).

Can I use a different cheese?

Yes, but you want something with a decent kick of flavour. Younger cheeses like Wensleydale or Cheshire have more “acidic” flavours.

Older, more mature cheeses like mature cheddar or something like Lincolnshire pack a saltier kick.

I would Avoid mild “stretchy” cheeses like Gouda, Emmental or heaven forbid Edam.

Can I make Cumberland pie in advance?

This is the ultimate make-ahead dinner. You can prepare 2-3 days in advance and just throw it in the oven until piping hot.

Simply wrap in cling film a store in the fridge, just sprinkle over the breadcrumbs before baking at 200°C or 400°F for 25-30 minutes.

Can I bake this in a single dish?

I have a thing about single-serving pies because something just feels special about a whole pie to yourself. Whether it be this Cumberland pie, my beef and ale pie or even my lemon meringue pie I love it!

But you can bake this in a single dish if you like.

Use a single 25cm by 15cm dish that is 4-5cm deep (10″ x 6″ x 2″) or a 15cm or 6″ diameter round dish that is 4-5cm (2″) deep.

Portrait close up image of an individual cheesy cumberland pie served in a white gratin dish

Serving Suggestions

I generally consider dishes like this Cumberland pie to be a great standalone meal that doesn’t need a side dish.

Having said that adding some greens to a meal is never a bad idea!

I like things that I can throw into the oven alongside the pie, roasted tenderstem broccoli is my favourite, but roasted courgettes or roasted green beans both work well too.

Landscape image of an individual cheesy mash topped cumberland pie served in a white gratin dish

Equipment Used

I only name-check brands of equipment if I think that they make a material difference to a recipe. But if you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below the recipe.

  • Stovetop.
  • Oven.
  • 20cm or 8″ saucepan.
  • 30cm or 12″ frying pan.
  • Colander.
  • Potatoe ricer or potato masher.
  • Vegetable peeler.
  • Kitchen knife.
  • Chopping board.
  • Weighing scales and or measuring jug, cups and spoons.
  • Mixing bowl.
  • Grater.
  • Stirring and serving spoons.
  • Piping bag with a large star nozzle, you can spread the potato with a spatula and mess up the top with a fork too.
  • Two 15 x 10cm (6 x 4″) gratin dishes. You can also bake in a single 25cm by 15cm dish that is 4-5cm deep (10″ x 6″ x 2″) or a 15cm or 6″ diameter round dish that is 4-5cm (2″) deep
Square close up image of a spoonful of cheesy cumberland pie with a whole pie served in a white gratin dish in the background
Yield: 2 Servings

Cheesy Cumberland Pie Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes

A traditional Cumberland pie is similar to a shepherd's pie but it features a cheesy mash with breadcrumbs over a minced meat base. Mine uses beef and leeks with a good whack of Worcestershire sauce.

Ingredients

  • 350g (12oz) Minced Beef
  • 75g (½ Cup) Onion
  • 75g (½ Cup) Leek
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 Tbsp Oil
  • 50ml (3 Tbsp + 1 Tsp) Worcestershire Sauce
  • 50ml (3 Tbsp + 1 Tsp) Tomato Ketchup
  • 50ml (3 Tbsp + 1 Tsp) Water
  • 400g (2⅔ Cup) Potatoes
  • 75g (¼ Cup + 1 Tbsp) Butter
  • Salt to Taste
  • 100g (1 Cup) Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 4 Tbsp Breadcrumbs
  • Spring Onions for Garnish

Instructions

  1. Peel and cut the onion into a 2-3mm (⅛) dice.
  2. Slice the leek into 2-3mm (⅛") thick coins.
  3. Peel and slice the garlic as finely as you can.
  4. Heat a 30cm or 12" frying pan over a medium-high heat and when it is hot add the oil.
  5. Add the onion and leek and cook for 3-4 minutes until they begin to colour up.
  6. Throw in the garlic and cook for a minute.
  7. Add in the minced beef and season with ¼ tsp salt, then cook until well browned (10 minutes or so).
  8. Push the meat to the side of the pan and turn the heat up to high.
  9. Pour in the Worcestershire sauce and allow it to bubble for 30 seconds then stir the meat into the reduced sauce.
  10. Add the tomato ketchup and water reduce the heat to medium and cook until almost all of the liquid has disappeared.
  11. Turn off and allow to cool whilst you cook the potatoes.
  12. Peel the potatoes and cut them into 2.5cm (1") cubes, then boil them potatoes for 20 minutes in well-salted water until they give to the tip of a sharp knife. I use a 20cm or 8" saucepan with ½-¾ of a teaspoon of salt.
  13. Mash the potatoes or push them through a potato ricer and add the butter and 75g (¾ Cup) of the cheddar and mix well.
  14. Separate the meat mixture into two 15 x 10cm (6 x 4") gratin dishes.
  15. Pipe over the potato (piping is optional you can spread it any way you like) and sprinkle over the remaining cheese and sprinkle over the breadcrumbs.
  16. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 200°C or 400°F.
  17. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving sprinkled with finely chopped spring onions.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

2

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1336Total Fat: 86gSaturated Fat: 41gTrans Fat: 3gUnsaturated Fat: 35gCholesterol: 286mgSodium: 1668mgCarbohydrates: 74gFiber: 6gSugar: 15gProtein: 68g

Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

Did you make this recipe?

If you made this recipe, I'd love to see what you did and what I can do better, share a picture with me on Instagram and tag me @krumplibrian and tell me how it went!

Penny

Saturday 20th of February 2021

I like the looks of this recipe and will try it soon. What do you suppose a dish such as this would be called when made with ground venison? That's what I use for the "Shepard's Pie". Hunter's Pie? I have never tried ketchup, using a big splash of red wine gives the fruity flavor but am more than willing to give the ketchup a go! Thank you!

Brian Jones

Friday 26th of February 2021

I love the idea of shepherds pie with ground Venison. These naming conventions, as with most things are completely made up and are relatively modern ideas that have shifted over time and on occasions within different regions. Interestingly a traditional or "original" Cumberland pie is made with game so you probably have more claim to the name if using it than my post-war iteration.

But now I seriously have to play with a game version and hunt me down some venison!

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