It never fails to grab my friends’ attention. I just have to post a few photos of a meal I’ve made on social media and everyone goes nuts over it. My latest cooking photos were a step-by-step sequence which resulted in friends requesting not only the recipe but home delivery too, if that was possible!

With indoor dining closed in several provinces, many folks are looking for anyone, someone, to please, please cook a meal for them. Myself included!

Even my next-door neighbour texted me to see if she could drop by and taste it. I said maybe next time!

We All Want Comfort Food!

My friends and I all agree that wintertime calls for more hearty fare to warm us up and provide a measure of comfort. In my case, I think it goes back to my grandma and mum’s cooking efforts when I was young. They both made meals that were wholesome and savoury, using basic ingredients that weren’t at all fancy. Food that filled our bellies and made us feel good.

They were dishes I learned to cook as a child with initial supervision and then gradually by myself while my mum was at work. She shopped the ingredients and then left it up to us kids to prepare the evening meal. My brother was also an avid cook and he had his “specialities”, like chili con carne and spaghetti sauce.

Mine was Shepherd’s pie, made with ground beef and topped with mashed potatoes. Very British. Back then, other ground meats were pretty much unknown to us. However, over the years I switched the ingredients up to include ground chicken, or used pork mixed with the ground beef.

A New Spin on Two Classics

Now I make a variation on Shepherd’s pie that I call Chicken Shepherd’s Pot Pie. Its contents are classic pot pie ingredients without the pastry. I can’t have pastry due to high cholesterol. Instead, I now borrow from the old shepherd’s pie recipe – topping my chicken pot pie with yummy, creamy fluffy mashed potatoes!

It’s pretty easy to make—this recipe makes four medium servings. You’ll need:

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • Chicken bouillon
  • Shallots or sweet onion
  • Garlic
  • Carrots
  • Frozen peas and corn
  • Potatoes
  • Butter, flour, milk and herbs
  • Salt and pepper

Here’s What You Do:

  1. Get your fresh carrots cooking – two medium carrots, diced into small pieces and boiled. Drain and set aside.
  2. Steam the frozen peas and corn. Drain and set aside.
  3. In a large, deep, lidded frying pan, sauté on medium heat, one or two finely diced French shallots (use a small vidalia or yellow onion if no real shallots available) and add a large, minced clove of garlic (or to taste) in butter. Or, in my case, I use Becel, a canola/olive oil spread. I use about 2 tbsps, but add to it if needed.
  4. Once the shallots are cooked and tender, add one large chicken breast cut into cubes and cook until almost done. Let simmer covered on low. Add a splash of Vermouth or white wine if things are getting dried out or are sticking to the pan.
  5. Meanwhile, make a classic bechamel sauce. My quick trick instead of making the sauce in a separate saucepan is to simply mix up the flour and cold milk with the chicken bouillon (to avoid lumps) in a small bowl or measuring cup and then add it, whisking briskly, to the frying pan mixture.

    Add more butter and Vermouth or wine if necessary as you go along, stirring it all together until it’s incorporated and creamy. Cover the pan and let it simmer, checking that it’s not sticking. Add more liquid if necessary – could be milk, or vermouth/wine.

  6. Season the mixture with fresh or dried herbs to taste as well as ground black pepper and salt. Dried or fresh thyme is also nice along with freshly chopped basil.
  7. Peel and cut up two very large or 4 medium white potatoes and boil. Drain when cooked and mash with a little milk and some butter or canola/olive oil spread.
  8. Pour the whole chicken mixture into an ovenproof dish and spread the top with the mashed potatoes. Use a fork to create little potato peaks. Put the whole thing under the broiler for a few minutes until the topping is browned and crisp.
  9. Serve. I often accompany the pot pie with a salad or another wintery vegetable like brussels sprouts on the side, but it’s quite fine all on its own.

Bingo. Dinner is served!

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