When it comes to shepherd's pie, there are those who maintain that shepherd's pie must be made with only certain meats and certain toppings, and must be prepared in a certain way, and there's a freewheeling bunch willing to reinvent shepherd's pie based on whim and convenience. In my case, so long as there is a meat on the bottom, corn on top of that and some sort of buttery mashed something over it all, I'm willing to call it good.
And so with all due respect to the purists who will claim this is no shepherd's pie, I give you this wonderful version that begins with a blend of sausage and ground bison and ends with buttery-brown sugar mashed sweet potatoes.
Sweet potato and bison shepherd’s pie
Ground bison pairs perfectly with the rich sweet potatoes and corn. Of course, any ground meat — including turkey, beef and lamb — can be substituted.
Start to finish: 40 minutes
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 -inch chunks
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1/2 pound loose Italian sausage meat
1 pound ground bison
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
6 ounces (half a bottle) stout or other dark beer
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons cool water
15-ounce can corn kernels, drained
8 1/4 -ounce can creamed corn
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
Heat oven to broil. Lightly oil a standard loaf pan.
Place sweet potatoes in a large pot and add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Add a hefty pinch of salt to water, then bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet over high, combine olive oil, garlic and onion. Saute for 5 minutes, or until just tender. Add sausage, bison and pepper. Saute until meat is browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Carefully spoon or drain off any collected fat in skillet. Add beer and simmer until reduced by half, about 4 minutes. In a small glass, mix cornstarch with cool water. Add cornstarch mixture to meat and stir until thickened. Remove from heat. Season with salt.
Spread meat and onion mixture evenly in prepared loaf pan. In a small bowl, mix corn kernels and creamed corn, then spread in an even layer over meat. Set aside.
Once sweet potatoes have cooked, drain and return them to pot. Add milk, butter and brown sugar, then mash until smooth. Season with salt. Spoon potatoes evenly over corn. Place pan in oven, about 10 inches below broiler. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, or until bubbling at edges and starting to brown. Watch it carefully; some broilers run hotter than others.
Per serving: 570 calories; 230 calories from fat; 25 g fat (10 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 70 mg cholesterol; 65 g carbohydrate; 6 g fiber; 8 g sugar; 22 g protein; and 710 mg sodium.