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Cooking with JoJo: It’s as easy as sweet potato shepherd’s pie

Joey Morasse • Updated Oct 24, 2017 at 10:00 PM

When it comes to comfort food, our friends in the United Kingdom really know their stuff. The shepherd’s pie came about in the late 1700s to early 1800s when the hard-working rural folk, due to hard times, needed to stretch their leftovers out as far as they could. 

Around this time, the potato had just been introduced as an affordable food crop. Coming in from a long day of farming and/or tending the flock, this meal of leftover lamb, vegetables and topped with mashed potatoes, made for a filling and heart-warming meal. 

While many restaurants call it shepherd’s pie, if it is not made with lamb or mutton, it is actually a cottage pie if made with beef or any other meat. My rendition of this classic uses sweet potatoes for a healthier, less-starchy topping. 

What you’ll need:

• 2 pounds of ground lamb or mutton.

• 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced.

• 1 large Vidalia onion, finely diced.

• 5 carrots, diced.

• 1 bag of frozen peas.

• 1 bag of frozen whole-kernel corn.

• ¼ tsp. salt.

• ¼ tsp. pepper.

• a dash of allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg.

In a pot, brown the lamb, and when done, remove it, leaving roughly half of the fat that rendered. On medium heat in the same pot, add carrots, onions and corn. The peas will be added later, so they do not become too mushy. Add all the spices and stir thoroughly and allow all to cook until tender. 

In a smaller pot, boil the sweet potatoes until tender and blend or mash and set aside. Not adding butter or cream to your potatoes is not only healthier, but it also allows for a denser topping, which I prefer in this dish. 

Once the vegetables are tender, add back the lamb and mix well. Reduce the heat to low and add the peas and gently stir to incorporate.

In a deep baking dish, add the mixture evenly. Carefully spoon the potatoes on top to cover the mixture fully. Preheat your oven to 275 degrees. Since everything is cooked, you are only browning the top. For the wow factor, you can either make a design in the top with a fork or take the back of a spoon and swirl the topping to create peaks. Either of these when browned, makes for a great-looking dish. 

While oven times do vary, this can take up to 25 minutes and may even require using the top broiling feature to finish, taking care not to burn the top. Remove from the oven and enjoy.

Cooking since he could pull a chair up to the stove at 5 years old, Joey Morasse, of Lebanon, is the owner and operator of JoJo’s Barbecue and Catering. He is also a personal chef and offers in-home cooking classes.

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