I've been on a quest for a simple and delicious version. I typically find simple but tasteless, or delicious but extensive. Finally, for the first time, Rachael Ray came through for me, with a 30 minute Shepherd's Pie:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
1 3/4 pounds ground beef or ground lamb
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup frozen peas, a couple of handfuls
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup beef stock or broth
2 teaspoons Worcestershire, eyeball it
2 pounds potatoes, such as russet, peeled and cubed
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup milk (or substitute vegetable or chicken broth)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
2. While potatoes boil, preheat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add oil to hot pan with beef or lamb. Season meat with salt and pepper. Brown and crumble meat for 3 or 4 minutes. (If you are using lamb and the pan is fatty, spoon away some of the drippings.)
3. Add chopped carrot and onion to the meat. Cook veggies with meat 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
4. In a second small skillet over medium heat cook butter and flour together 2 minutes. Whisk in broth and Worcestershire sauce. Thicken gravy 1 minute. Add gravy to meat and vegetables.
5. Stir in peas.
6. Drain potatoes and pour them back into the pot. Combine sour cream, egg yolk and cream. Add the cream mixture into potatoes and mash until potatoes are almost smooth. (I also added a sprinkle of cheddar cheese., salt and pepper and some butter...)
7. Preheat broiler to high. Fill a small rectangular casserole with meat and vegetable mixture. Spoon potatoes over meat evenly. Top potatoes with paprika and broil 6 to 8 inches from the heat until potatoes are evenly browned.
My friend JD came over for dinner (especially since JW was away in Boston) to help eat the pie. She walked in the kitchen to catch me mashing my own potatoes.
"Wait. You mash your own potatoes?"
"Wait. You don't?"