Veggie Tots Chicken Casserole
Calories 402 (31% from fat)
Fat 14 gram
Saturated Fat 3 gram
Trans Fat 0 gram
Cholesterol 151 mg.
Sodium 708 mg.
Carb. 24 gram
Fiber 7.5 gram
Sugar 4 gram
Sugar Alcohol 0 gram
Protein 43 gram
4 lbs. skinless and boneless chicken thighs
8 cups (2 quarts) unsalted chicken cooking stock
1/2 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
1/3 cup fennel bulb, chopped
1 tsp thyme, dried
1/4 tsp. nutmeg, ground
5 Tbsp. light butter, divided
(We used I can't believe it's not Butter! Light.)
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup fat free half and half
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup parsley, minced
1/2 lb. (3 cups) mushrooms, chopped
(We used 1/4 pound white mushrooms and 1/4 pound baby bellas.)
2 leeks, white and green parts only (about 1 cup), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh tarragon, chopped
2 Bags (16 oz. each) Veggie Tots
(We used Green Giant Broccoli Veggie Tots.)
The original version of this recipe appeared in the November 2017 issue of Food and Wine. It was really good, but used regular tater tots and was much higher in sodium. We substituted a few ingredients and were able to significantly reduce the sodium, carbs and fat while boosting the veggies. If you’re from the Midwest you’ll recognize it as a hot dish.
You can substitute the chicken thighs for turkey thighs and drumsticks. If you swap out the broccoli veggie tots for cauliflower veggie tots you’ll get a similar caloric and nutritional breakdown.
1. Put the chicken thighs in a large pot and cover them with the cooking stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until the meat is cooked, about one hour.
2. While the chicken is cooking, prepare the next six ingredients, carrots through nutmeg and combine them in a bowl. Set aside.
3. Divide the butter in a 4 tablespoon serving and a 1 tablespoon serving. Put the whole wheat in a bowl. Pour the half and half in another bowl and add the frozen peas and minced parsley to it. Chop the mushrooms and put them in another bowl. Chop the leeks and put them in another bowl. Set aside the butter and those four bowls.
4. Once the chicken is ready, remove the pieces from the stock and set them on a cutting board. Then use two forks to shred the chicken. While you’re shredding the chicken, increase the heat of the stock to high and boil for 20 to 40 minutes, until it’s reduced to 4 cups. Pour the reduced stock in a bowl and set aside.
5. Heat a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add 4 tablespoons of the butter to the pan and pour the first bowl of carrots, celery, onion, fennel, thyme and nutmeg in. Stir occasionally until lightly browned, approximately 5 minutes.
6. Stir the flour in, then add 3.5 cups of the chicken stock to the pan. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally until the sauce starts to thicken a little, about 5 minutes.
7. Mix in the shredded chicken and the bowl of half ‘n half with peas and parsley. Reduce heat to medium, stirring occasionally and cook for 5 more minutes. Then spread the mixture in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish.
8. Heat a large, non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter, mix in the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes, until mushrooms are browned.
9. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
10. Add the leeks to the mushrooms and pour in the remaining 1/2 a cup of the chicken stock. Cook, stirring occasionally until the leeks soften, about 5 minutes. Mix in the tarragon and spread the entire mixture on top of the chicken in the baking dish.
11. Bake the casserole for 15 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Then remove from the oven and cover the top with the veggie tots. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 20-30 minutes, until the veggie tots turn a golden brown on top and the casserole is bubbling.
12. Divide into 10 portions and serve with optional sea salt and hot sauce.
Yield: 10 Servings
You can freeze individual portions for easy re-heating later.
Microwave for approximately 3-4 minutes. Keep the container open a little to allow steam to escape.