Chicken Shepherd’s Pie

You know how people always say, “once the weather turns chilly, I instantly crave comforting bowls of ___” during the fall?  Or conversely, “all I want is a big, refreshing ____ as soon as I have to turn my A/C on”?

I’m not really one of those people.  I crave salads during the coldest months of winter, and there are times when I could not be happier with a steamy bowl of creamy soup during the summer.

My cravings are actually based on what my body presumably needs.

Well, that … and my emotions.

And how long I’ve gone between servings of mac ‘n cheese.

Point is, my meal choices have more to do with what I’ve eaten recently, what kind of day I’ve had, and the setting in which I am eating.

Yesterday was a long day.  I ate a very healthy and light lunch of quinoa salad leftovers.  My aunt and uncle were going to be dining with my parents and I.  The combination of those three conditions meant that I wanted something not too heavy, but filling and comforting.

Enter: shepherd’s pie.

I’ve been told by certain British friends that shepherd’s pie is really a catch-all phrase for some kind of meat (or meat substitute) with a carb-y topping, as there are endless iterations of it in almost every cuisine of the world.

So, seeing as I didn’t have the traditional lamb or beef, and also that I didn’t want to induce my dining companions into a deep food coma, I went a little lighter.

Shredded Chicken Shepherd’s Pie
serves 6

3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 t dried thyme+1/4 t
1/2 t dried rosemary+1/4 t
1 large baking potato
1 medium head cauliflower
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream+2 T
2 T butter+1 T
1/2 T olive oil
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 large red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T flour
1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
3/4 cup frozen or fresh peas
1/4 cup cheddar cheese+1/4 cup

1. Preheat oven to 400°.
2. Place chicken breasts in a medium saucepan and cover completely with water.  Sprinkle on 1/2 teaspoon each thyme and rosemary and salt and pepper to taste. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until chicken is cooked through (about 20 minutes).
3. When chicken is done, remove to a plate and allow to cool slightly.  Shred chicken with two forks. (alternately, you can simply cut the chicken into bite sized pieces, depending on your preference)
4. Chop potato into bite sized pieces and place in a large pot, covering with about 2 quarts of water and season with salt.  Heat over high heat.
5. Cut cauliflower into florets.  Once the water in the potato pot comes to a boil, add the cauliflower florets and cook until vegetables are fork tender.
6. Drain vegetables and add back to the hot pot.  Add 1/4 cup sour cream, 2 tablespoons butter and 1/4 cup cheese, season with salt and pepper and mash with a potato masher.  Set aside.

7. While chicken and vegetables are cooking, heat olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet.  Add carrot, celery, onion and garlic, season with remaining thyme and rosemary and salt and pepper. Cook vegetables, stirring occasionally, until soft.
8. Push veggies to one side of the skillet, reduce heat to low and add remaining butter.  Once melted, sprinkle in flour.  Whisk to combine until a thick paste is formed.  Whisk in broth to create a gravy.
9. Add shredded chicken and peas to veggie mixture and stir to combine, heating through.

10. Pour chicken and veggie mixture into a 9×13 casserole dish. Pour potato/cauliflower mash on top and spread evenly.  Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and bake until cheese is bubbly.

By using a whole head of cauliflower in place of the bulk of the potatoes and easing up on the gravy, this becomes a much lighter dish.  You could also eliminate the cheese.  But why would you?

All tolled, the stats per serving come out to about 360 calories, 12 grams fat, 6.3 grams of fiber and 35 grams of protein.

What. is. up.

And yes, now that I said I never analyze the nutritionals on my recipes I’ve been doing it non-stop.

Clearly I have an addictive personality.

Guess I’ll go eat another serving.

15 thoughts on “Chicken Shepherd’s Pie

    • Felt like it! I cut that thing into 6 portions and it was definitely enough food (although the men ate slightly larger portions- then again, the men in my family are sort of hulks).

  1. I love shepherds pie. I’ve been meaning to make it for the last week but I havent gotten to it yet. It’s on my list for next week, along with butternut squash mac & cheese. 🙂

  2. You know I don’t think I’ve ever made or eaten a shepard’s pie! But this really makes me want to try it….
    I definitely crave the typical cold/warm weather foods, except I’ve never been a HUGE soup person…my food needs some chew!

  3. I had the best shepherds pie ever in Jamaica. Random, yes?
    But since I’ve been obsessed with making some, but Brandon doesn’t like it which means I have to eat the whole pan. Good for me, bad for buttoning pants.
    Oh well, pants are overrated anyways.

    • Definitely- plus, because I still used a few potatoes, it didn’t taste light at all. But I was pretty happy with that calorie count!

  4. This is such a good idea!! I don’t know why I never thought of this before, but it has jumped to the top of my recipe list. I’ve been kind of obsessed with comfort food casseroles lately, and actually made two versions of shephard’s pie last month. Meat + potatoes is the way to go 😉

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