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Here is another old family classic that I thought could do with a little face lift.  Shepherds Pie has been a staple at our dinner table since the kids were wee little tots as it was at my Mum’s dinner table when I grew up and also at my Nanna’s and so on.  Comfort food at its best……..however, why not jazz it up a bit?  Lamb mince infused with the sensational Greek flavours of red wine, cinnamon and oregano topped with gorgeously scented sweet potato mash turned this little face lift into an extreme makeover…..and WOW!  She was beautiful!!

Prep: 40 minutes    Oven Time: 20 minutes     $ Low Budget

Serves 4-6 (generously!)

Olive oil for frying

800gm of lamb mince

1 large brown onion, finely diced

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1tsp of ground cinnamon

1/2tsp of ground cumin

2tsp of rigani* (normal dried oregano will do)

6 sprigs of fresh oregano, stalks discarded, leaves roughly chopped

11/2 cups of dry red wine

2 x 400gm tins of chopped tomatoes

3tbs of tomato paste

1tbs of balsamic vinegar

Sea salt and cracked black pepper

For the Mash:

800gm of sweet potato, peeled and chopped into chunks

40gm of butter

1/2tsp of ground cinnamon

Sea salt and cracked black pepper

1/2 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese for the topping

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Heat a large frypan and add the oil, onion and garlic.  Fry until soft and translucent and sprinkle in the cinnamon, cumin and both dried and fresh oregano.  Fry for a further 1-2 minutes or until fragrant and then brown the mince well in the onion mixture stirring and breaking up the lamb as fine as you can get it.

When the lamb is nice and golden and caramelised add the balsamic vinegar and red wine.  This will instantly “deglaze” the pan and take all the beautiful flavour off the bottom of the pan and bring it right back to the mince mixture.  When the wine has reduced by about half add the tin tomatoes and tomato paste and mix well to combine.  season with a good pinch of salt and pepper, have a taste and if all ok reduce the heat to low and simmer for approximately 20 minutes.  Add a little water if needed but the mixture should be fairly thick and not too watery.

Place the peeled and cut sweet potatoes in a large pot of salted water and bring to the boil.  Boil for approximately 10-15 minutes or until nice and tender.  Drain the water, return to the heat and mash well adding the butter and seasoning with salt and pepper.  Remove from the heat.

I used individual pie dishes, however it would work just as well in one large dish.  To assemble spoon the mince mixture evenly into the pie dishes and top with the sweet potato.  Gently spread the potato out with the back of the fork (it makes a nice pattern) and top each with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.  Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until golden and bubbling.  Serve with steamed green beans…….

*Rigani is Greek dried oregano.  It can be found in good deli’s and gourmet food shops and is well worth the purchase.  It is full of flavour!