Not only is this dish good in and of itself, but it's also a superior recreation of a childhood comfort food. Without lunch lady hairs.
Even though I secretly liked the version slopped onto my lunch tray as a school boy, this shepherd's pie is a vast improvement, with buffalo meat instead of beef (leaner, hipper), smoked paprika, fresh sage and a touch of cumin. Instead of the classic trinity of frozen peas, frozen carrots and canned corn, we use whatever fresh veggies we have around. Last time our friends brought over some of the surplus bounty of their CSA, including turnips and chard, which worked great.
I also appreciate the irony of a shepherd's pie made from buffalo, since buffalo can't actually be shepherded. The only downside is that while it's still hot, using the term "pie" is really being generous. Even though it doesn't taste like slop, it still kind of looks like slop.
But when you have the leftovers the next day, as you invariably do because you make an entire skillet's worth, because it looks gorgeous and rustic to do so, that slop sets into distinct strata that can easily be sliced into a clean, self-supported wedge.
While eating one such pie during last night's dinner, conversation turned to talk of sprouting grains. Our guests, an enterprising young family that bakes their own bread and makes their own cheese, are in the habit of sprouting everything from grains to nuts. That's a food wagon I haven't boarded yet, largely because of the extra effort required.
That said, when I looked in the dog's water dish this morning, I noticed that two buckwheat grains had accidentally fallen in and sprouted. Guess it's not that hard after all.
Now if only buffalo shepherd's pie appeared so spontaneously.
Recipe: Buffalo Shepherd's Pie
1 lb ground buffalo (it goes a long way, 6-8 servings)
chopped seasonal vegetables
pimenton (smoked paprika)
fresh sage (about a handful)
1. Make mashed potatoes.
2. Brown the buffalo meat in an iron skillet with a healthy dash of pimenton and slightly less cumin.
3. Layer the chopped veggies and chopped sage on top of the meat, sweating anything that would produce a lot of water first (i.e. chard or spinach).
4. Top with the mashed potatoes. Top the mashed potatoes with a heavy sprinkling of pimenton and a drizzle of olive oil (and cheese, if that's your thing).
5. Bake at 400 until it begins to brown, then slide under the broiler to finish the job.
6. Serve as is or let set in the fridge over night for pretty slices.