Chicken, Mushroom & Winter Greens Shepherd’s Pie

By Reece Carter
Serves  4
Preparation   50 mins
Cooking   30 mins
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When it comes to good health, we all know we should be eating our veggies. But only one in twenty Aussies hit the required daily fruit and vegetable intake. For our overall health and quality of life, that’s something we should all be striving to change. One of my favourite health hacks is the concept of “secret veggies”. That is, I like to look for opportunities to sneak extra serves of vegetables into all my meals, and ensure a diverse range of them make it into my daily diet.

This winter warmer pie is a perfect example of that. Instead of potatoes, I’ve boosted the nutrition of the crust by using parsnip and cauliflower. I also added some seasonal winter greens to the pie’s filling, just for good measure. Serves 4.

Ingredients

For the crust

  • ½ head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 700g parsnips, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 cups (500ml) chicken stock
  • 2 cups (500ml) water
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and black pepper, to taste

For the filling

  • 500g Lilydale Free Range chicken thighs, thickly sliced
  • 300g Portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts chopped and rinsed
  • 6 large leaves Swiss chard, stems removed and then shredded
  • 4 thyme sprigs, stripped from stalk
  • 6 sage leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 tb corn starch
  • 2/3 cup (155ml) chicken stock
  • 2 tb extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Place the cauliflower and parsnips in a large pot and cover with the chicken stock and water. Bring to a boil on the stove, then cook for 15-20 minutes or until vegetables are soft and easy to mash.
  3. Strain, then return the vegetables to the dry pot and cook over a low heat for a minute or two, until they look like they’ve dried out. This will help prevent the mash becoming soggy.
  4. In a food processor or blender, process the cauliflower and parsnip along with garlic and olive oil. Once smooth, give it a taste and season as required. Place to one side.
  5. Heat a heavy-based, deep, and wide frying pan or skillet over a medium-high heat. Add one tablespoon of the olive oil, tilting the pan so it is well coated. Once nice and hot, add the chicken pieces and cook for 4-5 minutes until browned all over. Remove, and place to one side to rest.
  6. Lower the heat to medium. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil, along with the garlic and leek. Sauté for two minutes until nice and fragrant, and the leek has begun to soften slightly.
  7. Add the mushrooms, thyme, and sage, then cook for a further 3-4 minutes, stirring regularly.
  8. Finally, add the chard and stir through until it wilts. This won’t take more than 30-60 seconds.
  9. Reduce the heat to a low flame and return the chicken to the pan. Sprinkle the corn starch over evenly, then pour over the stock and stir everything well.
  10. Let it come to a simmer, then cook for ten minutes until the sauce has thickened and the chicken cooked through. If the sauce boils down too much, just add a splash more stock. Taste, and season accordingly.
  11. Transfer the chicken and vegetable mix to a glass, ceramic, or cast-iron baking dish. Top with the cauliflower and parsnip mash, and smooth over.
  12. Bake for 30 minutes or until the crust begins to brown in places, and the sauce is bubbling. You can also finish it under a medium grill for 1-2 minutes if you want to brown the top a little more.
  13. Leave to sit for at least five minutes before serving. It would be made even more delicious with your favourite homemade tomato sauce or chutney!

 

Recipe notes and tips:

  • Because we're using parsnip and cauliflower instead of white potatoes, the crust is likely to be softer than you’re used to. This is totally normal!