Cheesy potato and homemade baked bean pie

When I set out to recreate tinned baked beans I had no idea they'd be this easy or this GOOD. Just wow. They're a little bit smoky, a little bit sweet and tomatoey and smothered in buttery mashed potato and good cheddar, oh lord, just absolute heaven. I made this in the spring and paired it with a bright and crunchy dressed salad and sliced red onion; it needs some cool contrast unless it's cold and frosty winter day, in which case fry up some juicy bangers to go with it.
Serves: 4-6 • Prep time: 30 mins • Cook time: 20 mins • Easy 
For the beans:
  • olive oil
  • 2 x 400g tins of haricot beans
  • 1 large, finely chopped, standard yellow onion
  • heaped tablespoon of smoked paprika, to be fair I just threw a load in!
  • tablespoon of clear honey
  • good pinch of sea salt
  • tablespoon of white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato puree
For the mash:
  • 3-4 large white floury potatoes
  • 250 ml whole milk*
  • 100g butter*
  • sea salt
  • couple of handfuls of grated strong cheddar
  • Note: You can buy frozen mash that's just potato, butter and milk if you're making this in a real hurry.
*I never measure the milk and butter, I just stick it in a bit at a time til it comes right. Creamy and buttery.
For the mash
Cut the potatoes into quarters and boil in a large pan of salted water until you can poke a knife through them. Mash them with a flat-bedded masher with small'ish holes until there are no lumps, then add the butter and mash that in, then the milk and mash that in too. Finally season to taste, with the salt and give it a quick 'whip' with the masher, just for a few seconds. Set to one side.

For the beans
Gently fry the onion in olive oil until translucent then add the smoked paprika, stir and cook for another minute or two. Tip in the beans with the juice from one of the cans (drain the other one) and add the salt, honey and tomato puree. I seem to remember perhaps adding a squeeze of ketchup here too but I tend to forget what I did sometimes - try it if you wish, it'll do no harm!

Let them gently bubble away for a few minutes to thicken the sauce and intensify the flavour. You must always taste your cooking as you go along and adjust it til it's right, I keep a little dish at the side to transfer small amounts of whatever I'm cooking into, I might experiment with different things in that little pot in case they work!

Assembly and baking
Tip the beans into a shallow ovenproof dish and top with the mash and plenty of good strong grated cheddar. Bake in a 170deg oven until the cheese is golden and bubbling, about 15-20 mins

Nutrition info
Haricot beans are a fantastic source of folate for brain, nervous system and cardiovascular health. They are also high in fibre which feeds the friendly critters that live in your gut which have such a profound influence on your overall health!

Forget the fads, get happy and healthy with a real-food diet!

Cut my pie into four pieces, I don't think I could eat eight.
Yogi Berra
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