Some of you might remember this wonderful chicken dish I learned from my mother-in-law. It didn’t really have a name other than “Grandma Kate’s Chicken,” until a friend pointed out that something like this would be called “smothered chicken” where she came from. I loved being given a more recognizable name for the dish we in our family have long cooked and enjoyed.
Anyhow, while this recipe is delicious, not everyone in your family might enjoy the copious leftovers, and even when they do, it is never really possible to consume all of the resulting gravy – or so it was until now. This morning, I arrived at a brilliant realization that I could turn my smothered chicken leftovers – meat and mashed potatoes and gravy and all – into a shepherd’s pie and serve the extra gravy on the side. Not only did it stretch the way those leftovers would ordinarily be consumed, it really gave them a nice lift and a semblance of an entirely new, fresh dish. I am a huge fan of such “succession” meals – the ones that can be made utilizing something that has already been cooked, not to mention that shepherd’s pie is the ultimate meat-and-potato lover’s delight.
So all I did was grab uneaten chicken pieces, remove chicken flesh from the bones, and cut it up into bite-size pieces, fatty skin and all (the fatty, intensely-flavored skin is the best part). I then very simply mixed them with half of the gravy (which was approximately 3/4 C of gravy to 3 C of meat) and spread the mixture in a small casserole dish (mine was not 9 x 13 but the size smaller, although I can’t remember exactly what it is – maybe 8 x 11 or something). Next, I simply spread the cold mashed potatoes on top of the mixture, smoothed them out carefully with a spoon (I always do everything neatly and carefully, as you well know), and then brushed the top with a beaten egg thinned with a dash of maple sap (as an alternative to water).
Then sprinkle everything with a thin layer of grated Parmesan…
Wait, what’s that all about?
And bake it at 450 degrees for approximately 30 minutes, until the top looks like in the picture above.
Note that I placed the casserole on the top shelf of the oven, where it is the hottest, and where you want to put the foods that you really want to brown on top.
I served this with extra gravy, and my goodness, it was as incredible as the dish I started with tasted the day before. I am totally a shepherd’s pie addict now. I can think of infinite filling possibilities with numerous animal species.
How I make my mashed potatoes: I boil 3 pounds of unpeeled potatoes (I prefer Yukon Golds) in salted water until they are very tender and begin to fall apart (approximately 25 to 30 min). I then drain them, reserving the water for making gravy, and mash them together with approximately 3/4 C of milk (warning: this is not an exact measurement, so use your eyes), a dash of heavy cream, and about 3-4 tablespoons of room-temperature butter. They come out creamy and delicious.