Sara Foster has two markets in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina. The area includes Duke University, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and The Research Triangle Complex. So much happens in this incubator of thought, science, software and medical research. The people drawn to this part of North Carolina are highly educated, enviromentally aware and demanding about what they eat. It was the perfect place for Sara Foster to open her food emporiums. Sara worked for Martha Stewart in the early years of her career and long ago branched out into her own style. She has written several cookbooks and is recognized for her approach to cooking which involves simple honest food prepared with local and seasonal ingredients. Her cookbooks inspire me.
Over the Easter holiday we traveled to the coastal area of North Carolina. While skirting Chapel Hill I suggested to David that we stop at Foster’s Market for lunch. OK this is something that you need to know about me. I take any and every opportunity to experience an interesting meal. Forget the fast food joints; I want “an experience” of unique eats. Why waste your time on mediocre meals? So we got off of Interstate 40 and proceeded to Foster’s Market. It is not far, but our GPS gets confused. I hate my “Betty” sometimes. I thing she is trying to land us in a dump or no man’s land. Right before we arrived at the restaurant on the left of Martin Luther King Blvd, Betty sent us to the right through a winding neighborhood and landed us back on the right street to turn back to the left for a few yards. Evil Betty! That’s why my next picture is crooked. I was upset.
We had the soup and sandwich combination featuring pork and black bean soup with a ham and cheese panini. I didn’t get a good picture of our food but this is what the market looks like on the inside.
In honor of the upcoming Cinco de Mayo holiday, I made Sara Foster’s Southwestern Shepherd’s Pie with Chicken and Chili Mashed Potatoes. It is in her Foster’s Market Cookbook. If you are short on time you can use a rotisserie chicken. There is a little heat to it, but not much. It is an interesting take on shepherd’s pie and we loved it. It was both homey and satisfying.
SOUTHWESTERN SHEPHERD’S PIE WITH CHICKEN AND CHILI MASHED POTATOES
3 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 red onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
8 cups shredded cooked, chicken
3/4 cup dry white wine
3 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 heaping teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Kernels from 2 ears fresh corn (1 cup fresh or frozen corn)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Mashed potatoes made from 6 large Russet potatoes
2 teaspoons chili powder
Fresh parsley and fresh thyme, to garnish, optional
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until slightly brown, about 5 minutes. Add the celery, red bell pepper, and green bell pepper and cook 3 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and jalapeno and cook 3 minutes more, stirring occasionally.
Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the flour starts to brown slightly, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken and wine and stir until the wine begins to evaporate, about 1 minute. Slowly add the chicken broth, and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture begins to thicken and coats the back of a spoon. Reduce heat to low, bring the mixture to a low boil, and cook 5 to 10 minutes or until the mixture thickens and is creamy.
Remove from the heat and add the parsley, thyme, red pepper flakes, and corn. Season with salt and pepper and transfer the mixture to a 9 by 13-inch baking dish.
To make the chili mashed potatoes, Mix basic mashed potatoes with 1 teaspoon of the chili powder in a bowl until well combined.
Spoon the chili mashed potatoes on top of the chicken and bake 20 to 30 minutes or until the potato peaks are slightly brown and the chicken mixture is bubbling around the sides of the dish. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with the remaining chili powder and the parsley and thyme, if desired. Serve immediately.