Servings : Serves 5-6
Casseroles are normally some of the most comforting meals, in that they often contain ingredients that are filling and satisfying all at once. This particular casserole dish is one of the most preferred in my family. It hits all the comfort spots whilst managing to look truly spectacular. The base is a flavourful combination of chicken and veggies, topped with balls of spiced and herbed mashed potatoes, each of which contains a small nugget of cheese in the centre. The entire dish is covered with a layer of white sauce and grated cheese, then baked until golden and bubbly. This dish is best served with a simple salad and some garlic bread.
Ingredients for Chicken & Veggies
500 gm boneless chicken, cut into bite sized cubes
2 tbsp oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp ginger paste
1 medium carrot, cubed small
1 medium capsicum/bell pepper, cubed small
1/4 cup sweet corn
1 green chilli, chopped
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp paprika powder
1 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
1/4 cup water, or as needed
Ingredients for Potato Honeycomb
1 kg white potatoes
4 tbsp finely chopped coriander or parsley
1 lime or 1/2 lemon juiced
1 tsp chilli flakes or powder (optional)
1 tsp black pepper powder (optional)
salt to taste
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, cubed small
1/2 cup mozzarella and cheddar cheese, grated
Ingredients for White Sauce
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups milk
salt and pepper to taste
First, prepare the chicken and veg filling.
Heat the oil in a pan. Add the onions and fry until translucent, then add the ginger and garlic. Fry together until they release their aroma, then add the chicken cubes. Cook them over high heat until they begin to colour, then add the finely diced carrots, capsicum, sweet corn and chopped green chilli. Stir fry for a couple of minutes then add the tomato paste, paprika powder, chilli powder, salt and cumin. Cook everything together for another minute over medium heat. Then add in the water and stir everything together. Cover the pan and turn down the heat to low. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until the chicken and veg are tender. Squeeze in the lemon juice and sprinkle in the fresh coriander. Turn the heat off and pour this mixture evenly into a buttered or oiled casserole pan or dish.
Next, prepare the potato layer.
Peel and cube the potatoes, then boil in some salted water until fork-tender. Drain well then mash them whilst they are hot. Add salt to taste, plus the lemon juice, black pepper and chopped herbs. I like to add chilli powder and/or chilli flakes in the potatoes because we like our food spicy, but you can leave those out if you want it less spicy. Scoop up small amounts of the mashed potatoes and shape into small balls with a cube of mozzarella cheese in the centre of each ball. Arrange these potato cheese balls close to each other on top of the chicken veg mixture in the casserole pan.
Then you can prepare the white sauce.
Melt butter in a saucepan, stir in the plain flour, then cook on low heat for 5 minutes. Cooking the flour in the butter helps reduce the ‘raw’ smell of the flour so don’t skip this step! Slowly whisk in milk, if you pour the milk in too quickly you will form lumps, so add gradually whilst whisking briskly to get rid of any lumps and form a smooth roux/mixture. Then bring to the boil, whilst stirring. Turn down heat, then cook until the sauce starts to thicken and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Season with salt and pepper. Pour this sauce over the potato balls. Sprinkle grated mozzarella/cheddar cheese on the top.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180 C for about 30 minutes or until the top is golden and bubbly. You may garnish with some spring onion or herb of choice for a pop of colour. Serve with some garlic bread and a salad of your choice.
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