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.
The former group will maintain that shepherd’s pie must be made with only certain meats and certain toppings, and must be prepared in a certain way. I fall into the latter group, a freewheeling bunch willing to reinvent shepherd’s pie based on whim and convenience.
In my case, so long as there is a meat — any meat will do — 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. I even do a quick version that involves no baking whatsoever. The meat and corn are browned in skillets while the potatoes are boiled and mashed nearby. Then I assemble individual portions directly onto serving plates.
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.