Reinvent your chicken leftovers with this hearty chicken cottage pie! Chunky veggies, rich white wine sauce and a cheesy mashed potato topping make this casserole a winner!
It’s that time of year when winter begins to loosen its grip and the earth churns to life, green and new and full of promise. A warm day here, a crocus there and suddenly I begin to think of St Patrick’s Day.
I’m one of those people that thinks in holidays. As silly as it sounds, I like to celebrate almost all of them. It’s about looking forward to something… anything that can break up the monotony of everyday life.
Four leaf clovers are nice, a bowl of guinness stew is delicious and who doesn’t dream of finding a pot of gold?
But for me the pull of St Paddy’s Day is about longing for a sense of place in the great chain of life. Once Valentines Day has passed, I begin to imagine what life across the pond was like for my Irish and English ancestors.
My maternal grandmother was a Higgins and my paternal grandmother was a Roper but besides my family tree, I have no links to those far off islands. But I can make a recipe to transport a part of myself to that world! In this case, a humble cottage pie.
I’m sure you’re familiar with shepherd’s pie which is traditionally made with lamb. Cottage pie is the name commonly given to a beef pie of the same variety.
Cottage pie hails from the time when potatoes were first being planted in rural areas of the British Isles. Historically, the casserole was made with leftover meat, so we’ve used that inspiration to create our chicken cottage pie recipe.
It’s an inexpensive recipe that in spite of it’s humble origins tastes like a like a million bucks! Or would that be a pot ‘o gold?
It’s a simple saute of carrots and leeks which become the base for our rich, white wine sauce with fresh thyme. It’s this gravy that keeps the leftover chicken moist… well that and a topping of mashed potatoes and cheddar cheese! Then this layered dish is baked to bubbly perfection!
It’s hearty, satisfying, buttery, and so very delicious!
Kevin and I love that is recipe reheats very well (bonus if there’s just two of you) but it’s also great for meal prep. You can layer the casserole then cover and refrigerate it for later. That’s why it’s a great main course recipe for family dinners or meal trains.
Chicken Cottage Pie
- 2.5 lbs potatoes , peeled and diced
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 leek
- 4 large carrots , diced
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup white wine , we used a rich chardonnay
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1.5 cups chicken stock
- 1.5 lbs cooked chicken, preferably dark meat , diced
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
- 8 ounces cheddar cheese , grated
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- Fill a large pot with water and put it on the stove to boil then preheat oven to 400F.
- Once the water is boiling, add the diced potatoes and cook until very tender, about 10 minutes.
- Drain potatoes and transfer to a large bowl then mash with cream, butter, salt and pepper.
- Slice the white part of the leek into quarters lengthwise, then slice into half inch pieces. Place the leeks in a bowl and cover with cold water to soak. Let stand at least 10 minutes to let sand and soil fall to the bottom. Scoop leeks from the top of the water and rinse again.
- Return the pot to the stove and melt butter over medium high heat.
- Add the leeks and carrots to the pot, sauteing until the vegetables soften a little, about 4-5 minutes.
- Deglaze the pan with the wine, cooking until the alcohol smell burns off.
- Sprinkle the flour onto the vegetables while stirring constantly and then cook for one minute.
- Pour in the stock and cook the mixture until its bubbly and thick, stirring often.
- Stir in the chicken and thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Transfer the filling to the bottom of a tall casserole dish roughly 8 by 12 inches in size.
- Spread potatoes on top of filling then sprinkle with grated cheese.
- Bake 25 minutes, or until the filling is bubbly and the top is browned.
- Let the cottage pie rest for 10-15 minutes then garnish with parsley and serve.
- Our casserole dish which is 8x12 inches holds 3 quarts of liquid. You can use an oval dish or a standard 9x13 pan.
- We suggest using dark meat because it can stand up better to the double cooking time but you can use whatever leftover chicken you have on hand.
- This is a great dish to prep for weeknights or dinner parties. Layer the casserole then cover with foil and refrigerate until ready to bake. Keep in mind that it will take longer to bake when it's cold.
- Choose a full bodied white wine as it will enhance the flavor of the dish.
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