If the meat were lamb, it would be shepherd’s pie. If it were beef, it would be cottage pie. Since chicken is used here, perhaps, I could call it farmer’s pie.
When my daughters were pre-schoolers and up until the time they were in grade school, this was comfort food for them. I’d cook it in a full-sized baking dish and they’d scoop out the chicken, sauce and mashed potato on to their plates. It was often a messy affair but the smile on their faces was always priceless.
For purposes of food blogging, however, I have to leave out the messy part. Ergo, I decided to bake the dish in single-serve oven-proof bowls. Dinner was a lot less messy; so are the photos.
To make this dish, start by sauteeing onion, garlic and rosemary to create a flavor base. Add cubed chicken thigh fillets, vegetables and mushrooms. Shimeji was used here but button mushrooms will be just as good. What vegetables you can use is really up to you. We had carrot and peas because they were in the fridge. Bell pepper and celery are also good choices.
When the chicken, mushrooms and vegetables are partially cooked, gravy is poured in and everything is simmered together. As the gravy reduces and thickens, the chicken, mushrooms and vegetables finish cooking in it. By the time you turn off the stove, the mixture should have the consistency of a stew with a thick sauce.
The “stew” now goes into oven-proof bowls. Or, if you prefer, you may use one large baking dish. It really depends on how you intend to serve your casserole. Individual bowls should be ideal for an “elegant” dinner. A large baking dish is more for family style meals.
The mashed potato topping can just be spread on top of the “stew” but, if you like pretty, a piping bag does wonders. What tip to use is up to you.
The final step is baking. Ideally, you want the chicken and mashed potato to be at the same temperature when the baking dish (or dishes / bowls) go into the oven. That way, by the time the gravy is bubbly, the mashed potato topping will be nicely browned too. If the chicken is hotter than the mashed potato (or vice versa), the dish will cook unevenly.
If the chicken is hot and the mashed potato is cold, the topping will be not brown enough by the time the gravy boils. Some of gravy will push through the topping and drip down the sides of the baking dish or dishes / bowls, and cooking longer to until the top is browned will likely result in loss of too much gravy.
If the mashed potato is hot and the chicken is cold, the topping will likely dry out before the gravy is bubbly.
When you take the bowls (or baking dish) out of the oven, the casserole will be very hot. The aroma and the appearance will likely make you want to dig in at once so be careful.
Full recipe below
Chicken, gravy and mashed potato casserole
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 onions - peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic - minced
- 1 sprig rosemary - stripped and chopped
- 1 kilogram chicken thigh fillets - cut into one-inch cubes (smaller would be better)
- 1 carrot - peeled and cut into half-inch cubes
- 300 grams mushrooms - we used shimeji but button mushrooms will be just as good
- 1 cup gravy
- ½ cup sweet peas
- 2 to 3 cups mashed potato - (we added chopped chives)
- Melt the butter in a pan and saute the onion, garlic and rosemary.
- Add the chicken and cook, stirring, until the meat is no longer pink.
- Add the carrot and mushrooms, and sprinkle in a teaspon of salt and quarter teaspoon of pepper. Cook, stirring, for a few minutes.
- Pour in the gravy.
- Stir in the peas.
- Bring to a gentle boil, cover and simmer until the chicken is done and the gravy has thickened.
- Taste, and add more salt and pepper, if needed.
- Ladle the chicken and gravy casserole into a baking dish (or dishes) and cool.
- Meanwhile, prepare your mashed potato if you haven't already.
- Preheat the oven to 375F with the bottom and top heat on.
- Spread (or pipe) mashed potato over the surface of the chicken and gravy.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the gravy is bubbly and the mashed potato is browned.
- Take your chicken, gravy and mashed potato casserole out of the oven and serve.