Sunday, December 18, 2011

Soulful Chicken

Looking for a recipe to use up some leftover turkey? Or how about a great dish for a cool winter’s night? Have I got a recipe for you!

This recipe is a bit of a cross between a “Chicken A La King” and a Shepherd’s Pie”. It has a kicked up potato crust and a creamy filling loaded with veggies and chicken!

I found the original recipe “Hearty Chicken Bake” is from a 1992 cookbook called “101+ Hurry-Up Chicken Recipes”.

The original was good, but like every other recipe, I’ve played with the ingredients and method to make it my own.

What did I do differently?

To me, the sauce was always a bit too bland and runny so I decreased the amount of milk and added a bit of ranch dressing to kick up the flavour. Rather than using mixed frozen vegetables, I used frozen corn and frozen peas – but also sautéed onion, red pepper, garlic and carrots.

I baked the potato crust for a few minutes while I was preparing the veggies and making the filling. That way, the crust has a bit more stability and flavour.

As for the chicken, well there are a couple of things you can do differently. I’ve used leftover chicken or turkey and sautéed it with the vegetables to give a bit more flavour. If I didn’t have any leftover poultry, I used 1/2 pound of boneless skinless chicken breast. See the * at the bottom of the recipe.

Soulful Chicken

1 cup frozen kernel corn
1 cup frozen peas
2/3 cup frozen cut green beans
4 medium potatoes (about 1 1/2 – 1 3/4 pounds)
1 79g/2.8oz can French fried onions, divided
1 1/4 cup grated medium cheddar cheese, divided
4 Tablespoons Ranch Dressing, divided
1/2 cup chopped onion
Olive oil for sautéing (about 1-2 Tablespoons)
1/4 cup chopped sweet red bell pepper
3/4 cup diced carrots (fresh – not frozen or canned!)
2 teaspoons minced garlic (bottled type) or 3 cloves, chopped
1 1/2 cup diced cooked chicken or turkey*
1 284ml/10oz can mushroom soup
2 Tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Place the frozen corn, peas and beans in a colander and rinse with warm water till thawed. Set aside to drain thoroughly.

Peel and quarter the potatoes. Cook till tender and drain. Mash the potatoes. Crumble 1/2 of the fried onions and add to the potatoes along with 1/2 cup of the cheddar cheese and 2 Tablespoons of Ranch Dressing.

Spoon the potatoes into a well greased 2 quart oven dish. With the back of a spoon, spread the potatoes evenly along the bottom and up the sides to form a crust. Bake in a 350F oven for about 15-20 minutes.

While the potato crust is baking, sauté the onions, red pepper and carrots in olive oil. Once they are starting to brown, add the garlic and the cooked chicken*. Sauté for a couple of minutes then add the thawed veggies, mushroom soup, ranch dressing, milk, mustard powder and pepper. Stir to combine and let it heat through on a medium low setting. Stir occasionally.

Remove the potato crust from the oven and add the creamy chicken and veggie mixture to the center of the crust. Return to oven and bake for an additional 25 minutes.

Top with the remaining cheese and fried onions. Return to oven for 5 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and onions are starting to brown.

Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. (Do not expect the servings to lift out intact as a pie would. The potato crust is not that solid and does break as you take it out.)

Serves 4-6

*If you do not have left over chicken or turkey, take about 1/2 pound of boneless skinless chicken breast and dice into small pieces. Brown the chicken in the olive oil and remove to a paper towel on a plate. Then sauté the veggies in the drippings. Add the garlic on its own, then add the freshly cooked chicken with the veggies, soup and spices.

Note: If you have individual oven proof serving dishes, you could divide the potatoes among each of them and proceed as above – also dividing the creamy mixture, the cheese and onion toppings. Heating time will be less in this case but since the ingredients are all cooked, you are basically waiting till everything is heated thoroughly.



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