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When it comes to shepherd’s pie, there are those who toe a rather strict line, and there are those who go with the comfort food flow.
SWEET POTATO AND BISON SHEPHERD’S PIE
Ground bison pairs perfectly with the rich sweet potatoes and corn. Any ground meat –including turkey, beef and lamb – can be substituted. This recipe makes eight servings.
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
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 the oven to broil. Lightly oil a standard loaf pan.
Place the sweet potatoes in a large pot and add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Add a hefty pinch of salt to the water, then bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet over high, combine the olive oil, garlic and onion. Saute for 5 minutes, or until just tender. Add the sausage, bison and pepper. Saute until the meat is browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Carefully spoon or drain off any collected fat in the skillet. Add the beer and simmer until reduced by half, about 4 minutes.
In a small glass, mix the cornstarch with the cool water. Add the cornstarch mixture to the meat and stir until thickened. Remove from the heat. Season with salt.
Spread the meat and onion mixture evenly in the prepared loaf pan. In a small bowl, mix the corn kernels and creamed corn, then spread in an even layer over the meat. Set aside.
Once the sweet potatoes have cooked, drain and return them to the pot. Add the milk, butter and brown sugar, then mash until smooth. Season with salt. Spoon the potatoes evenly over the corn. Place the pan in the oven, about 10 inches below the broiler. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, watching it carefully until it’s bubbling at the edges and starting to brown.