Chicken Shepherd's Pie Will Put Some Hair On Your Chest And Also Other Places
This is from the "I should steal my mother-in-law's fancy camera more often" collection.
Look, if you gotta go, there are way worse ways to go than a potato and gravy overdose.
Though it's traditionally made with lamb, you can use pretty much any meat for Shepherd's Pie; beef, turkey, pork, chicken, the succulent fleshmeat of your fallen foes, whatever. You can even skip the meat and make a vegetarian Shepherd's Pie, if you hate all joy and goodness in the universe. We're using chicken, because that's what was in the fridge, and also because chicken baked in gravy topped with mashed potatoes is delicious.
Just know you're going to be spinning a couple of plates at once here. Make no mistake; this is some advanced shit, just because of the number of things you're going to have to do in rapid succession for most of it. It isn't quick, either, so you better have some time set aside. If you have two cooks, it's helpful for one to keep an eye on the vegetable pot and one to keep after the mashed potatoes. If it's just you and you pull it off flawlessly, well, congratulations: you're officially a kitchen samurai.
This recipe serves 7-8, because Shepherd's Pie don't fuck around.
How To Foods!
1. Pre-heat the oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit (7,892 millibars).
2. The prep work. God, the prep work. OK: peel and chop up the potatoes into 10ths (separate 10 into one pile and 4 into another). Dice the entire onion (coarse enough that the pieces won't fall through the holes of a colander). Cube the raw chicken breast. Thinly slice the mushrooms. Coarsely dice the shallots. Chop the whole bunch of scallions. Coarsely dice the carrots. Coarsely dice the celery. Chop up the parsley. If you're using fresh sage, chop up enough leaves for 1 tbl (typically 4-5). Howl your rage at a cruel, uncaring universe for making you do this much prep work.
3. Time to start the mashed potatoes. Put a large pot on the stove. Put 10 of the chopped potatoes in there. Fill with enough water to cover the potatoes and add 1 tbl salt. Heat on high until boiling, then add the diced onion, stir, and simmer until a fork goes into the potatoes easily (should be around 10 minutes).
4. Now for the veggie pot. Wait around 6-7 minutes, then heat another big-ass pot (if you can't fit a baby in there, it's not big enough. And for godssake take the baby out and wash the pot) on medium-high. Add 2 tbl olive oil and melt 4 tbl butter in it. As soon as the butter is melted, add the cubed chicken, shallots, 2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper. Cook the chicken, occasionally stirring until it browns, which will take around 10 minutes.
5. Time to hop back on the mashed potatoes. When the potatoes are soft enough for a fork to go in easily, drain the entire pot into a colander in the sink.
6. Take the now-empty potato pot and put it back on the stove on medium-high. Add 2 tbl olive oil and melt 4 tbl butter in it. As soon as the butter is melted, add almost all the chopped parsley (save a small handful for a sprinkle across the top near the end of the dish), and add back the potatoes and onions from the colander. Start mashing the potatoes and add 1 tsp salt and 1/2 cup milk. Keep going until they're fully mashed -- this should take 3-5 minutes. Set the mashed potatoes aside.
7. If you timed it right, the chicken should just be starting to brown. Add the carrots, the remaining 4 chopped potatoes, the celery, the scallions, the dried parsley, the sage, and the rosemary. Add the porter or stout (your call which, just a dark beer), the vegetable broth, and the garlic powder to the pot and set the temp to high. Cook until it starts boiling (it should take around 5-10 minutes), then set the heat back down to medium. Drain the can of peas in the sink and pour them into the pot along with the mushrooms and the lemon juice. Simmer the pot for around 15-20 minutes.
8. In a small mixing bowl, mix well 1 cup milk, the flour, and 1 tsp salt. A mason jar also works really well for this (shut up, we're not hipsters because we're not drinking out of it).
9. After the 15-20 minutes are up and you've let some of the liquid in the pot cook off, add that milk-flour mixture a bit at a time and stir. You're doing this to try to hit the consistency of a thin gravy. Only use as much of the milk-flour mix as you need; we used the entire amount listed in step #7. If you need to make more and add that, feel free; the consistency is the important thing.
10. When you've hit that mark, ladle the contents of the pot into a large casserole baking dish (as with the veggie pot, this should be a big sumbitch). You should fill it to about 3/4 capacity. Then layer the mashed potatoes (remember them?) across the top over the entire dish. The creamier the potatoes, the easier this is going to be. Top with the small amount of parsley you left out of the mashed potatoes and a sprinkle of paprika (just for some color).
11. Bake in the oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit (4 liters) for 20 minutes, or until the mashed potatoes start to brown. Finish for 5 minutes under the broiler, then serve.
The last step, of course, is to congratulate yourself for kicking the living crap out of something this labor-intensive. Go you!