Monday, April 01, 2013

chicken pot pie with biscuit crust

What, exactly, is it that separates a chicken pot pie from a creamy chicken stew? It's a question I haven't quite figured out, and this "pot pie" seems to just straddle that precipice. The large biscuit topping is much like a pie crust, but really the same recipe could be adjusted to make dumplings. The pie filling is loose and almost stew-like, and certainly if there were any more liquid I would call this a stew or soup. The lack of a bottom crust combined with the fact that it's made in a casserole dish point towards "soup" but it quite distinctly was based on a pot pie. The method of preparing the filling first and then baking it also point more towards pot pie than soup to me.

This was a recipe designed to use some strange odds and ends in my fridge. Two stray roasted chicken breasts, some parsnips and a bunch of asparagus. You could of course cook chicken just for this, or use a rotisserie or what have you ... but this is also a great way to use up some leftovers. The asparagus worked better than expected in the pie, actually: it had all the goodness of green beans, but provided extra flavour and a touch more texture. It would be easy enough to substitute out any of the vegetables I used, really, but the combination of the sweet carrot, spicy parsnip and bright, fresh asparagus was delightful. I'd also advise against putting potatoes in. With the biscuit crust that's just overkill. Or maybe you like carbs even more than me. (In which case, I'm kind of scared and kind of in awe. Let's be friends.)

Chicken Pot Pie with Biscuit Crust

Ingredients
Filling:
  • 3 medium carrots, diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 large parsnip, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into inch long pieces
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked, diced chicken
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp thyme
Biscuit Crust
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/3 cup of milk
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400* F.
  2. Prepare your biscuit crust.
    1. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and thyme. Stir with a fork.
    2. Add the oil. Mush it around until the oil is absorbed by the flour and your have sort of a crumbly flour mix.
    3. Pour the milk into your mixture. With your hands or a spoon mix until it all just holds together. If it's sticky add a little extra flour. Do not overmix - once your dough looks like a ball you are good.
  3. In a large saucepot over medium heat melt the butter for your filling. Add the flour, wisk to combine well. Let cook about 3-4 minutes wisking frequently. It will sort of bubble up as the flour cooks off and leaves you with just the roux for thickening.
  4. Begin adding the chicken stock to the roux in stages to allow the roux to combine properly and prevent lumpy sauce. Add about a quarter of your stock at a time, wisking vigorously until it's smooth and even. Once all the stock is in the pot, stir occasionally and allow to come to a light simmer, let bubble about 3-5 minutes.
  5. Add the milk to the pot, all in one go. Throw in your spices (pepper, thyme, cayenne) at the same time. Wisk until it all comes together and again allow it to come to a simmer. Give it another minute or so before moving on to the next step.
  6. Add your root vegetables (carrots and parsnips, in my case) to your sauce and allow to cook about 5-7 minutes until the chunks just begin to have some give when poked with a fork.
  7. Add your asparagus and turn the heat down to the minimum. More tender vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, peas or beans will only need a few minutes cooking in the sauce before going in the over. Cook for about two minutes.
  8. Mix your chicken pieces into your sauce mixture and you have pot pie filling! Transfer to a casserole dish.
  9. Grab your biscuit crust. On a floured surface, roll it out until it's approximately the same size as your casserole dish. Put on top of the filling.
  10. Chuck the whole thing in the oven for about 20 minutes, until the filling is bubbling out from underneath and the crust is golden brown.
  11. Let cool about 5 minutes, serve. Put this in your mouth. Nom.

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