shepherd’s pot pie with chicken

The drop in temperatures outside has made it perfect for turning on the oven.  One of my favorite cold weather, comfort food meals is a pot pie.  Who doesn’t have memories of them from childhood?  Little boxes pulled from the freezer, mini pies baking on a tray and a bowl of gravy to dunk biscuits in?  Certainly not a healthy meal when you stop to think about it and that is precisely why you should make your own.  While a pie crust is the traditional topping for a pot pie, the use of a mashed potato topping has less fat and more fiber but even so, this isn’t something you should eat regularly.

To keep it a little healthier, try to put a rainbow in the mix; use lots of hard vegetables of many colors in the filling.  To help keep vegetables such as broccoli from turning to mush, add them to the filling raw and allow them to cook as the pie bakes.

Boil the potatoes and mash them with a small amount of butter and use lowfat milk or even soy milk to keep it lean.  My mixture contained a single egg yolk which I am thinking could probably be omitted without consequence.

This is one of those dishes that can be cobbled together with leftovers.  We had a previously roasted chicken in the fridge and I simply chopped the breast meat from half of it to make the filling.  However, you could easily make this with turkey or any other meat, even a steak or a loin roast and for those of you who prefer it to be meat free, just double the veggies.

The filling was made with vegetable broth because that is what I had handy and to thicken it, I added a small amount of flour.  Mix and match to your heart’s content, I know I will be making this again, and who knows what will end up in it-depends on what is in the fridge!

Shepherd’s Pot Pie
Makes 1 (10″) or 2 (6″) pies
serves 4
Potato topping
1 1/4-1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
1/4-1/3 cup lowfat milk or unsweetened/unflavored soy milk, warm
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 egg yolk
salt and pepper to taste
Place the potatoes in a sauce pot and cover with water.  Bring to a gentle boil and cook until very soft, about 10-15 minutes.  Drain the water from the potatoes, mash them by hand or with a mixer.  Add the milk and butter and mix until creamy.  Add the egg yolk and seasoning, combine thoroughly and set aside while you make the filling.
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup sliced leeks
1/2 cup sliced carrots
1/2 cup sliced celery
1/2 cup corn-thawed if frozen
1/2 cup mushrooms, quartered
1-2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 teaspoon fresh)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 cups broth-vegetable or other low fat broth
1 cup cooked poultry or meat cut into cubes, omit if this is vegetarian and just add extra veggies
1/2 cup broccoli florets
1/2 cup cauliflower florets
Preheat the oven to 375.  In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil.  Saute the leeks, carrots, celery and mushrooms until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, poultry seasoning, thyme and the spices and saute for an additional minute.  Add the flour and stir to coat the vegetables then pour the broth in while you stir the contents in the pan.  Bring to a gentle boil, stir in the meat and then scrape the mixture into a deep-dish pie pan.  Sprinkle the broccoli and cauliflower over the top of the mixture.  Starting at the edge of the dish and working towards the middle, carefully spread the potato topping over the vegetables.  Place the dish on a heavy duty baking tray that will not warp in the oven and bake until the topping is golden brown around the edge and the filling is bubbly, about 30-40 minutes.  Allow the pie to sit for about 15 minutes before serving.  

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