(WASHINGTON POST) - Shepherd's pie meets hotdish in this fast comfort-food recipe that can make the most of leftover fresh herbs and sweet potatoes from the holiday.
It is basic with just the two layers, but you could easily add a layer of cooked broccoli or cauliflower florets - or even add those to the saucy sausage mixture.
We tested this with a few different kinds of sausage, including a chicken-and-apple one. But our hands-down favourite was the fresh bacon sausage from Harvey's Market at Union Market in north-east Washington. The family-owned butcher shop has made it in 5.5 to 6.8kg batches since 2012. But it has been part of a rotation of sausage varieties, so I have missed it, apparently.
The blend is about 60-40 ground pork and Benton's bacon (ground at different consistencies), with other ingredients such as garlic, marjoram, salt, black pepper and roasted red peppers.
Sausage and Sweet Potato Pie
Serve the pie with a steamed or sauteed green vegetable of your choice. The recipe is adapted from The Second Harvest Cookbook: Over 100 Inexpensive, Easy-to-Prepare Recipes For The Busy Cook.
450g sweet potatoes
Freshly ground black pepper
½ medium onion
450g fresh sausage, your choice of flavour
Leaves from 1 stem rosemary or 3 stems thyme
¼ cup flour
2½ cups regular or low-fat milk (may substitute buttermilk)
1. Peel the sweet potatoes, then cut into 2cm chunks. Place in a microwave-safe bowl along with ¼ cup water. Cover with plastic wrap (so the plastic is not touching the food). Microwave on high for about eight minutes or until tender. Let sit for two minutes, then uncover and mash the potatoes in their bowl, seasoning them lightly with salt and pepper.
2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200 deg C.
3. Finely chop the onion. Discard any casings from the sausage, placing pinches of the meat in a 22cm or 25cm oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring to break up any large clumps, until the sausage loses its raw look. Use a slotted spoon to transfer sausage to a plate, then add the onion to the skillet and stir to coat. Cook for about five minutes or until softened.
4. Mince the rosemary or thyme leaves. Sprinkle the flour over the onion, then stir to coat. Gradually pour in two cups of milk, stirring with a wooden spoon, until thickened. Over medium heat, this will take about seven minutes.
5. Return the cooked sausage to the skillet, stirring to incorporate. Taste and season lightly with salt and/or pepper. Remove from the heat; stir in all but a few of the minced fresh herbs.
6. Add the remaining ½ cup milk to the sweet potatoes, stirring to form a fairly smooth mash. Spread evenly over the sausage mixture, making sure to cover it completely.
7. Bake in the upper rack for 10 minutes or until the potatoes are just set and beginning to brown on top. Serve hot, sprinkled with the reserved minced herbs.
Serves four to five