Pork, Pickle and Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie

A far cry from the grey mince and tasteless mash I had at school. I find that a thoughtfully made shepherd’s pie is always popular, particularly this more exotic variation. The kind of sweet potatoes that have peach-coloured flesh are best (scratch the skin with your nails to check). Serve with a green salad.

Ingredients

  • 675-800 g/1½-1¾ lb sweet potatoes
  • 50 g/2 oz butter, plus extra for dotting over the pie
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 3 rounded tablespoons lime pickle
  • 3 large cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons groundnut oil
  • 900 g/2 lb lean minced pork
  • 1 bunch spring onions
  • 1 large egg
  • salt
  • black pepper

Method

Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them up roughly, then steam or boil until soft. Drain, turn into a bowl and mash, adding the butter, caraway seeds and a good seasoning of salt and black pepper. Leave on one side. Spoon the lime pickle out of the jar on to a board and slice any large pieces of lime fairly small. Peel the garlic and chop finely.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Put the groundnut oil into a large sauté pan over a fairly high heat, add the minced pork and dig around with a wooden spoon until the meat has separated and is browning slightly. Add the chopped garlic and stir for another minute, then stir in the lime pickle and remove from the heat. Taste the meat and add salt and black pepper as needed. Trim the spring onions and cut them across at 5mm/¼in intervals, using as much of the green part as possible. Stir them into the meat mixture and then turn it into a shallow ovenproof dish which it doesn’t fill completely. Pat level.

Whisk the egg with a fork and stir thoroughly into the sweet potatoes. Then spoon the potatoes over the meat, flick the surface a bit and dot with a little extra butter. Cook on the centre shelf of the oven for 30-40 minutes, until well browned.

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