Sunday, October 04, 2009

A nice fall run, and a Sunday in the kitchen

Sunday was the nicest day of the last four. 50-ish, partly cloudy, and a decent breeze. I am sure those participating in the Twin Cities Marathon races must have been pleased.

Speaking of the Twin Cities Marathon, I gather I was one of the few not participating on Sunday morning. I ran 18 miles today, and in all my time on the trails, I saw only three other runners (including a guy running with not one, but two sheepdogs AND another slightly smaller black dog of some sort...the dogs were pretty much in charge!). In any case, I pretty much had the entire city to myself, or so it seemed.

I was, however, accompanied by my feathered friends, including a great horned owl I rousted from his perch on a post in the early morning hours, some trumpeter swans, dozens of cedar waxwings pilfering a shrub of its berries, and I also saw a palm warbler (the palm is one of the first to arrive in the spring, and is one of the last to leave in the fall - so my colorful warbler buddies have all but moved on through for the season). And the colors of the leaves are getting gorgeous. This week should be spectacular in the metro area.

Colors along the trail



I am happy it is cool, because that means I can cook up warming dishes like this; it is essentially chicken pot pie, but with a mashed potato topping (in the style of a shepherd's pie) instead of the traditional pastry crust. I am calling it "Chicken Shepherd's Pie," even though chickens require no shepherds (and if they did, the person herding chickens would most certainly not be called a "shepherd"..."chickherd," perhaps?).

Out of the oven



The dish was a little involved. I don't have precise measurements, as I was sort of winging this. Here is what I did:

I made my own chicken stock with chicken, carrot, celery, onion, garlic, a little white wine, parsley, thyme, and sage. I cooled the chicken stock in the fridge to de-fat it. While the chicken stock was cooling, I roasted my root vegetables (carrots, parsnips, and turnips) in the oven to given then a nice roasted flavor, which added a lot to the finished product). Once the stock was de-fatted, I added the reserved chopped chicken and roasted veggies to a stock pot and allowed them to cook together. While that was simmering, I made homemade Yukon gold mashed potatoes and ran them through the ricer to get them nice and fluffy. At the last minute, I added some peas to the chicken mixture and thickened it with cornstarch until I got a gravy-like consistency. Added some additional chopped thyme, sage, and parsley right at the end. Added the sauce to a baking dish, topped with 'taters, baked until bubbly and the top slightly crusty.

Chicken Shepherd's Pie with Roasted Root Vegetables



I think I spent most of the afternoon, and even part of the morning, putting all of this together, but it was worth every second. Gooooooood stuff!

Until next time,

Jean
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