Buffalo Chicken Shepherd's Pie

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Being from Buffalo, "buffalo" flavored meals rarely come across our dinner table. Don't get me wrong, I love blue cheese and hot sauce, but buffalo flavors just don't have much appeal to me. As it is, I only eat wings maybe once or twice a year. Now, having said that, I'm not opposed to trying things that are labeled with the "buffalo" name. This week for the recipe swap, the theme was potatoes. I was intrigued, yet nervous, when I received this recipe for Buffalo Chicken Shepherd's Pie from The Jey of Cooking. On one hand, I had made shepherd's pie in the past and I liked how this recipe had ground chicken in place of beef, but on the other hand, it had that buffalo flavor. I knew I had to make it, so I gathered the ingredients and set off to work. I have to say that this meal did not disappoint! It packed a punch from the hot sauce, and the blue cheese in the mashed potato topping had a great flavor. As good as it was for dinner (both Joel and I had seconds, which is something we never do!), it almost tasted better the next day for lunch! Even though I still feel as if "buffalo" flavored foods are gimmicky, this recipe may make me give others a second look!!

1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 pound Ground Chicken
4 Celery Ribs, diced
4 Carrots, peeled and diced
1 Onion, diced
4 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 pint Cherry Tomatoes, halved
2 teaspoons Smoked Paprika
1/4 cup Chicken Stock
1 tablespoon Tomato Paste
1/4 cup Hot Sauce
4 cups Mashed Potatoes (I made these with red potatoes)
4 ounces Blue Cheese, crumbled and divided
Chives, chopped, for garnish

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the chicken and cook until browned. Add the celery, carrots, onion, and garlic. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are soft, about 8-10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and paprika. Deglaze the pan with the stock, and add the tomato paste and hot sauce. Stir to combine. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Add 2 ounces of blue cheese and a few dashes of hot sauce to the mashed potatoes and mix well. Pour the chicken mixture into a 9-inch pie plate that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Spoon the potatoes on top, and top with the remaining 2 ounces of blue cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 375 degrees, until the potatoes are golden and the chicken mixture is bubbly. Sprinkle with additional smoked paprika and chopped chives. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.