Eliza and her family came down on Christmas afternoon to open her presents at Meme and Grandpops house. This is before she arrived.
And let the fun begin – she could even handle that big bag.
Watching the big reveal of a baby carriage.
She loved playing with Frankie.
For dinner, I wanted to serve a simple, make-ahead meal so I opted for chicken cottage pie, which I had never made. Rather than find a new recipe, I decided to use a proven winner and use our chicken pot pie recipe but topped with mashed potatoes rather than pie crust.
To make serving easier, I increased the ingredients and made two 8”X11” casseroles rather than one large one and the recipe below will make them both. For one 9”x13” casserole, check this link. I made the casseroles the day before then early Christmas afternoon, I made the potato topping using our go-to mashed potato recipe from the pioneer Woman.
Chicken Cottage Pie
3 cups sliced carrots
1½ cup butter, cubed
1 cup chopped onion
1½ cup celery, small dice
1½ cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon pepper
3 cups chicken stock, more or less
2¼ cups milk
8 chicken thighs, skin removed
4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1½ cup frozen peas
4 lb. russet potatoes
1. Jaccard the chicken breasts and add to a sheet pan along with the thighs and season with salt and Billy Bones BBQ rub or you favorite for chicken.
2. Cover and bake at 350F to an internal breast temp of 165F.
3. Remove the chicken and allow it to cool enough to handle then cut into ½” cubes.
4. Meanwhile add carrots, celery, and onions to the broth in a stock pot and cook until tender then strain them and capture the broth.
5. Add the butter to the stock pot over medium heat and when melted, stir in the flour and cook for a few minutes to make a blond rioux.
6. Gradually stir in the broth and milk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly; cook and stir until thickened. Stir in chicken, peas, and vegetables; remove from heat.
7. Spray two 8”x11” casserole dishes with Pam and add the chicken mixture. I did this a day ahead of time and stored in the fridge.
8. On serving day, cook the potatoes but whip per Pioneerwoman directions.
9. Remove the casseroles from the fridge add a 1/2"-3/4” layer of mashed potatoes to each casserole and score with fork tines.
10. Cover with plastic and allow filling to come to room temperature.
11. Bake at 350F until casserole is bubbly and potatoes have browned a little – cover with foil if potatoes get too brown. I used a probe thermometer and cooked to an internal temperature of 160F which took about 1¼ hours.
The casseroles were delicious but the mashed potatoes easily got lost in the other filling if they weren’t eaten off the top alone. I'll use crust from now on for pot pie and red meat for cottage pie. It turned out to be a very nice Christmas Day with good food and good visiting with one disappointment – the weather. Growing up in the north, it just doesn’t seem like Christmas with a temperature of 68F - I would like to have had a nice fire but I would have needed to turn on the air conditioner. Oh well, we had a rare white Christmas in 2020 and there is always hope for 2022.
We hope you also had an enjoyable Christmas Day.
Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.
12/25/21 event date