I’m gonna jump in right off the bat today and say thank you all for being so awesome! The comments and private emails that I’ve received over the last few days from those whose stories resonate with my own have been incredibly encouraging. Feelings of failure and shame grow in the darkness, but I think it’s when we have the courage to speak up about our struggles that they begin to lose their power over us. The light shows the lies in our mind for what they really are and enables us to see more clearly in order to align ourselves with truth.
The weekend ended on a high note, and though I came into the week feeling spiritually refreshed, I am already being challenged to continue walking in that direction. My joint pain has been flaring up recently, and for some reason, it is particularly bad right now. Instead of getting angry with my body and wallowing in feelings of inadequacy, my intention for today is to see how God might be glorified through it. I’m not going to claim that I know what that looks like exactly, but one thing I do know – it does not include me running myself ragged with housework and blogging just to prove to myself or anyone else that I’ve got what it takes. In fact, I’m hoping it’s going to involve a nap here shortly.
Before I do that, though, I want to share with you a dish that came together in my kitchen a few years ago but that has been experiencing a bit of a renaissance lately. I call it Chicken Pot-Shepherd’s Pie, and as the name suggests, it’s a hybrid between chicken pot pie and shepherd’s pie. Neither of these dishes are ones that I particularly enjoy on their own; the pot pie is undesirable due to the usual peas and pastry crust, and the filling of the shepherd’s pie just isn’t my thing. Instead of throwing these dishes out altogether, I decided to combine them, keeping only the components that suit me and tossing out the rest.
The result is this: chicken, carrots, celery, and mushrooms swimming in a sea of flavorful gravy and topped with a layer of scrumptious sour cream mashed potatoes. It’s total comfort food with a remix of classic flavors. You’ll notice that the veggie to chicken ratio is a little lower than typical pot pies, but I love having a little more meat in there and find that pairing the dish with a fresh salad works just fine to balance things out.
Lastly, remember the Samoa Orange Coconut Milk Ice Cream that I posted a few weeks ago? I entered the recipe into a contest that’s being held by the Girl Scouts of Western Washington, and I found out last week that I’m a finalist! Would you mind taking a moment to hop over to their site and put in a vote for your favorite entry? Thank you!
- 4 medium (a little over 1 1/2 pounds) russet potatoes
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed with the flat side of a large knife
- 3/4 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, divided
- 3/4 cup medium-diced carrots
- 3/4 cup sliced celery (medium thickness)
- 3/4 cup medium-diced onion
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/4 cups sliced fresh white button mushrooms (medium thickness)
- 6 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 4 cups cubed cooked chicken
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh parsley
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Next, prepare the potatoes. Peel them, rinse under cold water to remove any residual dirt, and then cut into quarters. Place the potatoes in a medium pot along with the smashed garlic, and add in enough cold water to cover them by about an inch. Place a lid on the pot, heat over high heat until boiling, then reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes pierce easily with a fork.
- While the potatoes are bubbling away, start making the filling. Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a large-bottomed pan over medium high heat, then add the carrots and sauté for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Next, add the celery, onion, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon black pepper, and sauté for about 5 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and sauté 3-4 minutes more until they begin to soften.
- Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter to the vegetable mixture, and once it has melted, stir in the flour until smooth, and allow it to cook for 1-2 minutes. Pour in the chicken stock and milk, whisking until smooth. Heat the sauce to boiling, then reduce the heat to medium and cook 3-4 minutes until thickened. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the cooked chicken and ¼ cup of fresh parsley. Taste, season with additional salt and pepper until the flavor suits your preference, then transfer the mixture to a 3-quart casserole dish.
- Once the potatoes are done cooking, drain them in a colander, then return them to the cooking pot. Use a potato masher to mix the potatoes and garlic together with the sour cream, milk, butter, salt, and pepper until smooth. Taste and add additional salt and pepper as needed, then carefully spoon the mashed potatoes into a gallon size resealable plastic bag. Snip a corner of the bag and squeeze the mixture out on top of the chicken filling, covering it evenly. For best results, I recommend starting near the perimeter of the casserole dish, dispensing the mashed potatoes in a spiral going inward. Keep the design as is or use the back of a spoon to smooth it out.
- Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of minced fresh parsley and bake for 20 minutes or until you see the filling bubbling up around the edges. I recommend placing a piece of foil underneath the casserole dish during baking to catch anything that might bubble over.
- After baking, allow the casserole to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes prior to serving in order to give time for the sauce to set up a bit (note that it will still be pretty loose and that's intentional).
Tips and Tidbits
- Since I’m roasting chickens regularly now, it works for me to just use meat from that, but you can alternatively poach 3 medium boneless skinless chicken breasts. Do this on the stove top in a large pot of water, simmering the breasts until they are cooked through, or try the oven method. Place the chicken breasts in a single layer in a glass baking dish, pour enough boiling water over them to cover, then bake in a 400 degree oven for 30-40 minutes until fully cooked.
- Fresh parsley is inexpensive and something I’ve started keeping on hand regularly so that it’s available to toss in a dish whenever the feeling strikes. If you don’t have any, feel free to use 1 tablespoon of dried parsley instead, but be sure to add it at the same time as the chicken stock so that it has a little more time to cook and come to life.
- A few sprigs of thyme, if you have them, would also add some great flavor to the filling, or opt for 1 teaspoon of the dried stuff. Either way, since thyme is a bit more hardy than other herbs, I’d recommend adding it to the mix when you add the stock. (Be sure to remove and discard any stems before transferring the filling to the casserole dish.)