Gino D’Acampo’s Italian shepherd’s pie

“One of my favourite British dishes has to be shepherd’s pie, or torta del pastore,” says Gino D’Acampo, author of Fantastico – Modern Italian Food. “Of course, like every great thing in life, you always try to improve it. My tip would be to use sweet potatoes, tinned chopped tomatoes, and plenty of fresh basil leaves.”

Serves: 6


5 T olive oil
1 large finely chopped onion
3 chopped carrots
70g halved button mushrooms
500g beef mince
1 glass dry red wine
500g tinned chopped tomatoes
6 fresh basil leaves
700g sweet potatoes
30g salted butter
50ml full cream milk
150g freshly grated parmesan
salt and pepper


Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion, carrots and mushrooms for 10 minutes until softened. Add the minced beef, season with salt and pepper and stir frequently with a wooden spoon for 5 minutes, separating any clumps of meat.

Add in the wine and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the alcohol has evaporated. Add the tomatoes and basil, taste for seasoning and cook, uncovered, over a medium heat for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6. Cube the sweet potatoes and cook them in boiling salted water until soft. Drain and mash well, adding in the butter, milk and 100g of the parmesan. Season with salt and pepper, then stir vigorously with a wooden spoon over a low heat for 2 minutes to give a creamy texture.

You can bake this in a 2-litre pie dish or in smaller individual dishes. Pour the meat sauce into your pie dish(es) and carefully spread over the mashed potato, ensuring that the meat is completely covered. Use a fork to create small peaks and then sprinkle the remaining Parmesan on top. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 20 minutes or until the topping is crisp and golden. Serve immediately and enjoy with your friends.

Extract from Gino D’Acampo’s Fantastico – Modern Italian Food, published by Kyle Books. Available at all good book stores for R315.

Fantastico by Gino D'Acampo

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