This recipe is my mom’s variation on a dish served in a famous restaurant in our town. I remember eating in that place almost every Sunday, after going to Church. When we had to move, mom probably couldn’t part from it and decided to whip it up on her own. Once we brought it to our pot-luck dinners with our friends and it became a regular. It was like bringing a part of home into our new home.
As a kid, the dish was known to me as “Tropical Chicken”. Eventually, I realized it is a lot like chicken casserole or maybe chicken potpie and a bit like chicken and dumpling. However you would want to call it, it is a fail-proof comfort dish. It is hearty, warming and makes you just want to come back for more.
For the chicken casserole base
- 4 pounds chicken breast and thighs
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 1 head garlic, peeled and chopped finely
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- ¾ cup carrots, diced
- 3/4 cup green peas
- ¾ cup whole kernel corns
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 ½ cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup fresh parsley leaves, minced
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 1 tsp. sage powder
- Salt and pepper
For the topping:
- 6-8 medium size potatoes
- 1 cup milk
- Salt and pepper
- ½ cup grated cheddar cheese
Poach chicken in a pot until tender. Take the chicken and save the stock. Shred chicken breast and thigh meat. Throw away the bones (or keep for stock making).
In a skillet, over low heat, sauté butter, garlic and onions. Add shredded chicken meat, celery, carrots, green peas and corn. Sauté for 2-3 minutes and add chicken stock, cream, parsley, thyme and sage. Stir and season with salt and pepper. Let simmer for a few minutes until stock is reduced down to a creamy base. Pour on a baking dish and set aside.
Boil potatoes until soft. When done, (let it cool for a while) peel potatoes and mash in a bowl. Potatoes need not be perfectly mashed and smooth. Occasional lumps make the dish rustic. Pour 1 cup milk into the potatoes. If more liquid is necessary to achieve a “mashed potato”- like consistency, use chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper and stir until thoroughly combined. Place the potato mixture on top of the chicken on the baking dish. Top with grated cheese. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350˚F for 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are a bit browned and the cheese has melted.
Sprinkle minced parsley leaves on top and serve warm.