Monday, July 11, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie with Biscuit Topping

I've been in a bit of a cooking slump lately. I'm still cooking, but most of my experiments have not been coming out as well as I had expected (or hoped, more specifically). My cooking tends to run in phases. I will have a burst of creativity where everything comes together exactly how I wanted it to, or at the very least, it is a tasty deviation.

But then there are those times when nothing comes together exactly as I had planned. I try to look at these as learning opportunities. It is all edible, just not something I would share with anyone. Add to that (or maybe because of it) the fact that I am working on my apartment and that is taking a lot of my time. I'm hardly even knitting these days.

It's a good thing overall, but I can feel myself itching to get in the kitchen. I do have some projects in the works there, which I will share as they occur, but I haven't really had time to sit down and work out any kind of cooking plans so everything is kind of a mishmash and nothing is going together. Which is making for some interesting meals.

Whenever I get disorganized in the kitchen, I tend to fall back on old tried-and-true standards. If they are long-time standards, I might play with them a little, but nothing too far outside the box.

Take this chicken pot pie with a biscuit topping. Some might say it looks more like chicken and dumplings, and they wouldn't be far wrong. They aren't quite as dense as dumplings are (at least the dumplings I have had - although I am from the south chicken and dumplings was not a standard in our house). I think one of the differences is that this dish is baked, and dumplings are usually cooked in a dutch oven, whether in the oven or on the stove top.

One of the last times I made this dish, I used turkey that I needed to get out of my freezer, and I forgot the baking powder so the topping, while tasty, did not rise at all. This time I remembered baking powder, but I forgot the sesame seeds. Because it was a spur of the moment decision to make it, I did play with some of the ingredients.

It came about because I needed a pot of chicken broth, but not the meat. I used several chicken quarters for the stock, so I had a lot of chicken for which I had no plans (and little inspiration). So I decided to make a version of my chicken pot pie.

The only problem with that recipe is that it makes a small pie, to serve 2 people, and I had a lot more chicken on my hands than just enough for two. So I doubled the recipe and changed around the ingredients a little. I did not have celery, but I had some beautiful cremini mushrooms, which made a lovely substitute. I threw in some celery seed to replicate the flavor, and that worked.

All told, the result was delicious. I am always pleasantly surprised by how flavorful this is. It's comforting and satisfying enough for a quiet night by yourself, and flavorful enough for company.

The topping did not rise quite as much as I had expected it to rise, but in looking back I am thinking I did not double the baking powder. What is it with me and baking powder? No matter, it was still delicious.
Home Cookin Chapter: My Recipes

Serves 4 to 6

4 chicken quarters
Water to cover
3 Tbsp butter
2 large carrots, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
8-oz crimini mushrooms, quartered
3 Tsp flour
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp celery seed (optional)
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
4 Tbsp butter (half a stick), cut into thin slices
1/2 cup milk
1 Tbsp. sesame seeds

Place the chicken in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add water until chicken is barely covered (at least 3 cups). Bring to a boil and lower heat immediately. Simmer the chicken over low heat for about an hour. Remove the chicken from the liquid, let cool, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Pour the liquid into a bowl, reserving 3 cups.

Preheat the oven to 350 deg. F.

Melt the butter in the saucepan. Saute the carrots for 5 minutes, then add the onion and saute for 3 more minutes. Add the mushrooms and stir for about 2 more minutes, until the mushrooms have darkened a little and have absorbed some of the oil.

Add the flour and stir to make a roux. Cook for about 2 minutes to cook out the taste of the raw flour. Gradually stir in the 3 cups of broth. Add the thyme, celery seed, and salt and pepper to taste. When
the sauce has thickened enough that you draw a line through it on the back of spoon, remove from the heat. Add the peas and chicken.

Pour into a greased 8 x 12-inch baking dish and set aside.

For the topping, place the dry ingredients into a bowl and whisk together. Add the butter and cut it in with a pastry cutter, two knives, or your fingers. Add the milk and toss briefly but thoroughly until a sticky dough is formed. Drop by heaping tablespoonsful onto the chicken mixture. Sprinkle the sesame seeds evenly over the top.

Place on a middle rack in the oven and cook for 30 minutes, or until the topping is browned and the chicken mixture is bubbling.

Let rest about 15 minutes before serving.

Exported from Home Cookin 6.46 (

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