Like I have mentioned before, when I am feeling lazy, I tend to whip up quick pasta dishes as most of these can be cooked in 2 pots - one for the sauce, and the other for the pasta - and they are really easy to deal with. So this afternoon, that was what I set out to do.
However, when I looked in the pantry, I realised that I had a few potatoes that needed using up. So ideas got reshuffled and I decided to substitute the pasta with potatoes and turn my dish into a Shepard's pie instead.
The great thing about making a Shepard's pie is that you can either make a huge tray, and I often do when I have loads of people to feed, or make smaller, individual portions. Since I had only 2 to feed on this Saturday, I made 2 small portions.
Before I started cooking the filling, I peeled and cut the potatoes into smaller pieces and cooked them in lightly salted boiling water until they were soft. The potatoes were drained. I mashed the potatoes with butter and milk, and seasoned with some salt and pepper. This was set aside.
Once I got the potatoes started, I browned the bacon. Bacon gives tons of flavour to any dish, so I like to add a little when I cook pasta sauces or pie fillings. Once they had turned brown, I removed the bacon bits and set them aside.
Into the bacon fat, I added chopped onion and sauteed them for a couple of minutes so that the onion would soften. Once that happened, I added the chicken breast. I continued stirring and cooking for another 3 minutes or so, or until the chicken had brown a little too.
I returned the bacon into the pot, and added frozen vegetables.
I moved everything towards the sides of the pot, and added plain flour. I stirred until the flour had been incorporated. Then I added some chicken stock. This would help to create a gravy.
I seasoned with salt and pepper. Then I ladled this mixture into heat-proof bowls.
And spooned the mashed potatoes onto the chicken mixture.
I added Parmesan and Mozzarella cheeses on the potato, as well as more pepper and some dried parsley.
The pies were baked for 20 minutes in a hot oven.
I served mine with some focaccia which I had baked that morning.
But they are just as good good, even on their own.
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Easy Shepard's Pie (Serves 2)
For the chicken filling:
1/2 chicken breast, skin removed and cubed
1 cup frozen vegetables
2 rashes bacon, cut into thin strips
1/2 onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons plain flour
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
For the mashed potatoes:
3 potatoes, skin removed, diced and cooked in salted boiling water until soft
1/8 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
1. Cook potatoes. Drain when cooked and mash with butter and milk. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
2. Brown bacon. Remove from pan and set aside.
3. Saute onion in bacon fat for a few minutes, until onions have softened. Add chicken and cook for 3-4 minutes, until chicken is slightly brown.
4. Return bacon to pan. Add frozen vegetables. Stir to combine.
5. Move everything to the sides of the pan. Add flour and stir until flour has been incorporated. Add chicken stock and continue stirring until gravy is formed. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Ladle filling into heat-proof dish. Spoon mashed potatoes onto filling. Add cheeses, pepper and parsley.
7. Bake at 200C for 15 minutes, or until top is golden brown.
8. Serve immediately.