Shepherd’s Pie Express: Dinner in Under 30 Minutes

Nature may be winding down but the rest of us are hustling to keep up with a new season of homework, housework and late nights at the office. When it gets really hectic, it always helps to keep one part of the house sane: the dinner table. Last Wednesday I made a shortcut Shepherd’s pie. It was our mid-week meal – a meal to bring my troopers back to the table to find their composure over a comfort dish.

I have many versions of the dish – but truth be told, Shepherd’s Pie Express is my favorite. It delivers its promise of braising with surface-crisped mashed-potatoes in under 30 minutes. Some like their pie filling to be stiffer, but not me. I like to keep it a little wet so that it starts to collapse on my plate when I serve it (and then you can skip making gravy). The mashed potatoes have an edge too, with a dash of mustard and a sprinkle of parmesan adding both depth and character.

Since this rustic dish is a way to use up leftovers, feel free to throw in an assortment of veggies — though for me, carrots are a must. I have also used peas, celery, mushrooms, turnips and pretty much any odd-bod waiting for its calling.


2 tbsp. olive oil

2 lb. lean minced beef, chicken or lamb

Salt and black pepper

2 medium onions, peeled

1 medium carrot, peeled

2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

Few thyme sprigs

2 tbsp. tomato purée

5 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce or 2 tbsp. A1 steak sauce

1-1/4 cup chicken stock

4 -6 medium sized russet potatoes

1-3/4 oz. butter

2 tbsp. finely grated parmesan or cheddar, plus extra for grating over the top

1 tsp. Colemans English mustard (if using English mustard powder, use less than 1/4 tsp.)


1. Set oven to broil

2. Add the potatoes to a pan of salted water, bring to a boil and cook until tender. Drain and return to the hot pan for 15 seconds or so to dry out, then take off the heat. Pass the potatoes through a potato ricer back into the pan or mash smoothly. Mix through the butter, cheese and mustard. Taste and adjust the seasoning

3. Heat oil in large frying pan. Season the ground meat with salt and pepper and fry until nicely browned

4. Throw onions, carrots and garlic into a blender and pulse until finely grated. Mix in to meat mixture along with thyme and cook out until they soften. Add tomato puree and cook for a couple of minutes to incorporate

5. Once the mixture starts to dry off, add the Worcester sauce and reduce until it is almost evaporated. Sprinkle to flour and combine well

6. Add chicken stock. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer for 15 minutes to braise. The mixture should be thick and glossy. Remove from the heat. Sauce should coat the back of a spoon

7. Spoon the mince mixture into the bottom of a 2 L pie dish. Spoon the mashed potato on top and rough up the surface with a fork. Grate over some extra cheese and broil until bubbling and golden brown


Looking for more comfort food? Check out:

Mac and Cheese Lorraine

Rigatoni with Ricotta

Taco Pizza

Wursts with Apple, Potato and Onion Hash

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Rachael Ray