These pimped-up beans are also really tasty served in the classic way, on hot buttered toast.
Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas 7. If I’m short of time, I’ll keep this simple and empty the beans straight into a sturdy 20cm x 30cm baking tray, so they make a flat layer across the bottom, but, to take it a step further, pimp them up first. Finely slice the onion, garlic, peppers and chilli (I leave the seeds in, but deseed if you prefer). Heat a splash of oil in a large pan over a medium heat, then add the chopped veg and thyme leaves and fry for around 8 minutes, or until softened. Dice the tomatoes and add to the pan for another 5 minutes or so, or until jammy and reduced. Pour in the beans and simmer for a final 5 minutes, then season to how you like it and pour into the baking tray in a flat layer.
To make the cheesy mash, quarter the potatoes, halving any smaller ones, then put into a pan of boiling salted water. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain in a colander, then return the empty pan to a low heat, place the colander on top and allow the potatoes to steam dry for a couple of minutes. Tip out any excess liquid from the pan, then tip in the potatoes, add the butter and about 75ml of milk. Mash well until light, fluffy and smooth, adding a splash more milk if needed. Stir in a few gratings of nutmeg, grate in one-third of the cheese and season to how you like it.
Layer the cheesy mash on top of the beans, carefully spreading it out to the edges in an even layer, then grate over the remaining cheese (I prefer mature Cheddar, but mild is fine too). Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the beans are hot through, the cheese is melted and golden, and it's bubbling at the edges. Serve with a crisp green salad and homemade coleslaw. This is my fail-safe go-to dish if I’m in need of a bit of naughty comfort food.