Trading Shepherds for Miners

We're back with another traditional recipe from Heroes' Feast attributed to dwarves: Shepherd's Pie.

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Shepherd or Miner?​

In deference to the fact that Heroes' Feast gives dwarves credit for the creation for Shepherd's Pie, the meal has been renamed Miner's Pie:
The Miner's Pipe, sometimes referred to as a "shepherd's pie" by humans and halflings, is a truly hearty one-stop meal for the tireless dwarf in all of us. Ground beef (or lamb or venison), sweet corn, peas, onions, and leeks are crusted by a potato mash topped with cheese. This is one of the few dwarven dishes readily served at inns across Faeron, particularly those of the North and Heartlands, likely because the human variant borrows much from this dwarven classic.
We decided to make Miner's Pie sooner than later; with Spring arriving, it will be too warm in our kitchen to crank the oven up to 450 degrees. This is one of those meals that's relatively easy to make but becomes much more complicated in the execution. Heroes' Feast expects you to hover over the meal as it cooks, measured in literal minutes of time. For example:
  • Add the garlic, thyme, and tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Adjust the heat to medium, add the flour, and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes, until the flour is completely blended in.
  • Adjust the heat to high and bring to a simmer, using a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the skillet to loosen and dissolve any browned bits stuck to the pan, about 1 minute.
This is a lot of work for a recipe that was originally sourced from the leftovers of other meals.

My daughter is not a fan of mixing food together so she wasn't as enthusiastic about this meal. I loved it though; it's very tasty and I ate the leftovers for an entire week.

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The Origins of Shepherd's Pie​

Be it shepherd or miner, the pie has the same basic ingredients: ground meat cooked in gravy, onions, carrots, celery, and a mashed potato crust. These were often leftovers from other meals:
Sometime in the 18th century, a dish called “cottage pie” came about somewhere in the vast expanse of the United Kingdom and Ireland. It seems to have originated as a way for folks to make use of leftovers, in order to avoid waste, both of the food and money varieties. Simply put, after making a weekend roast, unused meat was repurposed into a pie using affordable potatoes as a crust. This frugal, albeit clever, meal suggests the name “cottage pie” referred to the consumers of the dish...
But where did shepherd's pie come from?
...as time went on, a distinction was made: shepherd’s pie referred to a dish made with lamb (because sheep are tended to by shepherds!), and cottage pie referred to a dish made with beef.
Heroes' Feast uses beef instead of lamb, perhaps quantifying this pie as more "cottage" than "shepherd."

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Dwarven Sheep and Other Critters​

We've previously discussed what happens when you tweak real world animals for a fantasy setting, but the cottage/shepherd quandary brings up a specific question as to what dwarves eat. The original inspiration for D&D dwarves in Tolkien's work say little about the topic, but D&D elaborates in The Complete Book of Dwarves on page 26:
Dwarves enjoy a wide variety of food, with a preference for meat. Hill, mountain, and sundered dwarves keep cattle, goats, sheep, pigs, and fowl. These animals are grazed above ground on upland meadows or plateaus. Sundered dwarves keep their livestock close to home, hill and mountain dwarves allow their stock to roam. Although meat is a staple of their diet, large quantities of grains are also consumed. When possible wheat, rye and barley are grown close to the stronghold. They are harvested and kept in underground granaries. Many who live close to humans buy large quantities of grain to supplement their own production.
Heroes' Feast is curiously silent on where all this meat comes from. There's a passing reference to sheep, beef, pork, and pheasant, with the occasional reptile, fungus, and insects added in for underground-dwelling dwarves. Two themes become apparent in both The Complete Book of Dwarves and Heroes' Feast: dwarves like a lot of meat and a lot of alcohol. Despite having a section dedicated to alcoholic drinks, only one drink unique to dwarves is included, so enterprising DMs are on their own. One possible alternative is Stephanie Drummonds and Daniel Myers' Dwaren Cookbook: Recipes from the Kingdom of Kathaldum.

Be it shepherd, cottage, or mine, these types of recipes are an opportunity to tell a culture's heritage. Just be mindful of which heritage you choose.

Your Turn: How do your dwarven dishes differ from their human counterparts?
 
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Michael Tresca

Michael Tresca

Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
I'm thinking Hill Dwarves have lots of access to whatever meat travels on top of those Hills. I've actually been curious as to whether Hill Dwarves actually mine so much as do other stuff on the hills... Maybe more like masons with stone and plaster.
 

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Marc_C

Solitary Role Playing
This is a lot of work for a recipe that was originally sourced from the leftovers of other meals.

My daughter is not a fan of mixing food together so she wasn't as enthusiastic about this meal. I loved it though; it's very tasty and I ate the leftovers for an entire week.
In Canada, the dish was served to men who built the railways across the country. It had to be prepared quickly. The ingredients are not mixed. They are stacked together. Ground beef with onions on the bottom, a layer of corn in the middle and mashed potatoes on top. Today some people add a layer of cheese and paprika on top before putting in the oven.

Your daughter might prefer this version!

WLklJz5.png
 
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talien

Community Supporter
In Canada, the dish was served to men who built the railways across the country. It had to be prepared quickly. The ingredients are not mixed. They are stacked together. Ground beef with onions on the bottom, a layer of corn in the middle and mashed potatoes on top. Today some people add a layer of cheese and paprika on top before putting in the oven.

Your daughter might prefer this version!

WLklJz5.png
I showed this to my daughter and she agreed (also, it looks like what she thinks of as a "pie")!
 

Ed_Laprade

Adventurer
In Canada, the dish was served to men who built the railways across the country. It had to be prepared quickly. The ingredients are not mixed. They are stacked together. Ground beef with onions on the bottom, a layer of corn in the middle and mashed potatoes on top. Today some people add a layer of cheese and paprika on top before putting in the oven.

Your daughter might prefer this version!

WLklJz5.png
Yep, that's how I remember mom's shepherd's pie.
 

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