Shepherds pie is all gussied up in this layered casserole with a jalapeno-spiced ground beef filling topped by a cheddar mashed sweet potato crust.
This packs a great blend of southwest flavors to help elevate the classic to a whole new level of deliciousness.
I don’t know how or why it happened but I’ve come to truly love sweet potatoes far more than their white cousins. They add a mildly sweet note that is nicely balanced against the savory, spicy filling.
Mixing sharp cheddar cheese, butter, and heavy cream into them makes them super rich, soft and creamy so they all but melt in your mouth.
The filling can be made with the traditional ground lamb or beef and includes tomatoes, jalapenos, chili powder, oregano, and cumin. The mild heat of the jalapenos can easily be kicked up a notch if you’re looking for something spicier.
There’s an extra layer of cheese in between the filling and potatoes because southwest food, to me, means gooey, cheesy goodness.
It’s not too much. I swear.
Comfort food dressed to the nines.
- 1 + ½ pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- olive oil, for sauteing
- 1 small onion, diced
- ½ green bell pepper, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- coarse salt and fresh black pepper
- *1 can (4 ounce) fire roasted jalapenos(hotter) or green chiles(mild)
- 1 pound ground beef or lamb
- 2 teaspoons chile powder
- 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano, crushed between fingertips
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 can (14.5 ounce) petite diced tomatoes, drained of their juices
- 2 cups fresh shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream or whole milk
- fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped, for garnish
- Add the sweet potatoes to a large saucepan with enough water to cover the potatoes completely. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook until tender.
- Meanwhile in a large skillet heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium low heat. Add the onion, pepper and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and cook 7-8 minutes, stirring often. Add the green chiles and cook 2-3 more minutes. Remove the vegetables to a small bowl and set aside.
- Turn the heat up to medium and add the ground meat, cook, breaking it apart until completely browned. Drain off the grease. Mix in the chile powder, oregano and cumin. Season well with salt and pepper. Mix in the cooked vegetables and the tomatoes. Cook 10 minutes stirring often. Taste and season as needed.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Put a large cookie sheet on the bottom rack to catch drips. Butter a 9x9-inch casserole or baking dish or a 9-inch deep dish pie pan.
- Drain the sweet potatoes and add them to a large bowl with the butter and heavy cream. Season well with salt and pepper. Mash with a potato masher. Mix in 1 cup of the cheddar.
- Add the ground meat mixture evenly over the bottom of the baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining cup of cheese over top. Spoon the mashed potatoes evenly over top.
- Bake 30 minutes. Let set 5-10 minutes before serving. Garnish with chopped cilantro.