Rush Hour

After the holidays, some simple comfort food can really hit the spot, especially if it doesn't take hours to make! Sometimes, old favorites can get a new look when the refrigerator provides an unexpected bounty. That's what happened with this month's recipe. I've made Shepherd's Pie before in a more traditional manner with ground lamb and mashed potatoes. But recently, I was the happy recipient of a lot of ground beef and a pile of sweet potatoes. So it was time for a makeover.

This fun recipe puts a casserole dish filled with flavor on your table in less than an hour. On a cold winter day, that's music to my ears and when it's a dish that combines some of my favorite ingredients with a crust of sweet potatoes and spice, you've got my attention. You can roast and process the sweet potatoes in advance, of course. Actually, you can assemble this dish entirely, refrigerate it and bake it for 15-20 minutes longer the next day, too!

As always, I encourage you to share your recipe ideas and comments. You can always post comments using the forms provided in the articles or email me directly at . Enjoy!

Twisted Shepherd's Pie

  • 1 lb. sweet potatoes - trimmed
  • 1/3 c. orange juice
  • 1 T. bacon fat or olive oil
  • 3 carrots - peeled and cut into discs
  • 1 large onion - sliced into thin wedges
  • 2 small turnips - peeled and chopped
  • 1 lb. ground beef or lamb
  • 1 T. Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp. seasoning salt
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. ground red pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes or until softened. When roasted, remove the skins and process with the orange juice in a blender until smooth. Set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees.

Meanwhile, heat the bacon fat over medium-high heat and add the vegetables. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are crisp-tender. Remove the vegetables from the pan and add the ground meat. Brown the meat and add the Italian seasoning and salt. Return the vegetables to the pan and add the diced tomatoes. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.

To assemble, place the meat mixture in the bottom of a casserole dish. Top with the pureed sweet potatoes and sprinkle with the red pepper. Bake the dish for 15-20 minutes or until the mixture is bubbling and heated throughout. Serve hot.

  • Yields: 6-8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 45 minutes