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el mariachi

food log: chicken pot pie

holy crap this turned out to be a lot harder than i expected, taking me about 3 hours. so, last night, i started poking around for chicken pot pie recipes. there was some consensus between the ~20 or so that I read, minus the few that did it "pennsylvania dutch style", which is basically a thick chicken gumbo with strips of pastry in it. oddly, growing up in pennsylvania dutch country, i never had this style there.

so, i wanted pot pie with a pastry top. generally, i've had baked pie-crust-style tops, but i went for biscuit top instead. yummy results, but hella lot of work.

to start, alaina roasted some chicken breasts+ribs that we got at whole foods. this was very good meat, very well prepared because my wife, she can roast some chicken, i tell you what. i asked her to do that so i could multitask on making the biscuit dough for the top of the pot pie. holy crap! the recipe was a complete southern biscuit recipe from Cooking For Engineers, which I foolishly followed.

Sites like CFE have a bad habit of writing one-line steps that happen to take 30 minutes to complete. ("Step four: Grow a tomato.") In this case, it was knifing butter into flour to make a really rich dough with none of the butter grains being more than pea-sized. To do this for 2 cups of flour and 6 tbsp of butter means knifing up cold butter for something like 45 minutes. It also proves I'm an idiot, because we did get a kitchenaid mixer as one of our wedding gifts and there's probably a button on there for that. Sigh.

Anyway, back and shoulders aching from my powerful knifing activity, I moved on to the rest of prep. First was making creamed chicken. Starting with melted butter, I whisked in flour, then chicken stock, them milk. And I boiled it down a little bit, after having used less milk than the recipe called for, so that the sauce/broth/whatever would be nice and thick. Mixed in the chunked pieces of cooked chicken, along with some lemon juice and some white pepper, and the filling base was done.

Next up, veggies. This was basically chopping up carrots, celery, onions, and parsley, and then collecting some frozen peas. Know this: I love frozen peas. I cooked all that up in some butter, and folded the whole pile into the filling base I'd prepared earlier. Suh-weet. This was looking good already.

That whole mixture of veggies, chicken, and super thick flour/stock mix was put into our little baking dish, and then i flopped the biscuit dough on top of it and stretched out the dough to cover. Shaping the dough beforehand and then getting it onto the pot pie resulted in basically kneading the dough too much. I would come to rue this course of action.

All the ingredients set, I threw the pot pie in the oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

When it came out, it smelled right. The chicken filling was bubbling, and clearly so piping hot that it would have ripped the skin right out of my mouth if I ate it without waiting for it to cool. Sadly, as alaina noted upon seeing the completed dish, "The biscuit didn't rise."

That's the risk, see, with topping a dish with biscuit. The biscuits can fail in the same way that plain old biscuits can, and usually do. Still, the entire dish *tasted* right, and that goes a long way towards assauging my frustration. Reheating it tonight for leftovers a day later, I'm quite happy with the way the chicken pot pie turned out, though it wasn't quite worth over two and a half hours of prep. Next time, shortcuts on the biscuit dough. We've both eaten out fill for dinner two nights in a row, and I think we still have half the dish left -- this stuff is *dense*. Yum.

Comments

aw, don't be so hard on yourself. There is no setting for cutting flour into butter - it has to be done by hand otherwise it'll cream. For future reference: the trick I've found is to use a small mixing bowl and do it in small batches. This method utilizes it's own theory of special relativity: a couple of small batches appear to go faster than on large one. Plus, it's a lot easier to get them even.

You astutely identified verworking biscuit dough as a problem. Another one might be that your baking powder is old.

One last tip: your creamed chicken sounds awesome already, and if you want to add a subtle nuance, started by lightly toasting the flour in a dry pan, then adding the butter.