Hi! First off, the blog is exactly one month old today! So thank you all for your support and excitement! Your positive feedback and kind words have made me more excited and less scared about this whole process. Also, you may notice we’ve added a “yum!” button so you can now easily save recipes to your yummly account if you have one. If you don’t, you should know about it because it’s a really great resource for recipes.
So here in Seattle, the last couple weeks have been the stereotypical hazy-grey-rainy-cold combination that we are famous for worldwide. For me, pot pies are essential to surviving this kind of weather in fall and winter. In my book, they are the ultimate comfort food because homemade pot pies have nutrients from the vegetables, protein that keeps you going, but enough carbs to still give you that ‘warm blanket by the fire’ wrapped up and cozy feeling.
I love how versatile this recipe is. I usually add mushrooms to the filling, but you can omit them if they aren’t your thing. Sometimes I swap out corn when it’s in season for the mushrooms instead. Have leftover turkey? Use that instead of chicken. Wanna add ham or bacon? Have at it. Have some butternut squash you want to use? Replace one of the potatoes with it. It’s pot pie, there are no hard and fast rules. It all comes together so nicely in a lightly creamy sauce scented with nutmeg and thyme.
And let’s chat about the biscuit crust. Not a traditional flaky pastry top, but unarguably my preferred way to enjoy a pot pie. It’s a buttermilk biscuit with shredded gruyere cheese and caramelized leeks. They are soft, but still sturdy enough in structure that they hold up against the filling without crumbling. The leeks add a lovely sweet depth of flavor to the biscuits, but they can be omitted if need be or you don't have time for an extra step. If you prefer sharp cheddar to gruyere cheese, feel free to swap that out too. This one can be customized to your preferences and you can most likely work with what you have in the fridge already.
Regarding serving size: The recipe will fill a 9x13 dish. Some self respecting individuals would probably consider 1 biscuit and the filling underneath to be one serving, but I’ve found I usually eat two in one sitting and my husband eats three. So four to six hungry adults could easily finish it off. But if you have light eaters, it also keeps for a few days and makes for great leftovers, or freezes and reheats well if needed.
The biscuit recipe makes more than enough to cover the surface of the filling (roughly 12 individual biscuits on top) and I usually have enough to bake about 6 extra biscuits on their own. Don’t even think about dunking them into soup, or toasting them and using as bed for fried or poached eggs in the morning… nonsense really. ;-)
WHAT YOU'LL NEED
FOR THE FILLING:
1 quart chicken stock*
2 large (skinless/boneless) chicken breasts
4 carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 medium sized potatoes (I used yukon gold), peeled and diced
6-8 cremini mushrooms, de-stemmed and finely chopped
1 small sweet yellow onion, (about 1 heaping cup) diced
4 Tbs butter
4 Tbs flour
2/3 cup whole or 2% milk
1 Tsp dried thyme or 1 Tbs fresh chopped
1/2 Tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup peas
Salt and Pepper to taste
FOR THE BISCUIT CRUST:
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp salt
8 Tbs (1 stick) Butter, cold and cut into bits
6 oz Gruyere cheese, grated (about 1.5 cup loosely packed)
1 cup buttermilk **
1 large leek, dark green and white parts removed, washed, and sliced thin
Egg wash (one more egg whisked with 2 Tbs milk or water to brush the top of the biscuits with)
*If you are using leftover cooked turkey or chicken, you only need 2 cups of broth, as the other 2 are used to poach the raw chicken
**I keep powdered buttermilk on hand. It keeps forever in the fridge and you just whisk it with water when you need it. When I buy a carton there is always waste, so I find it’s so much more cost effective to either make my own by curdling milk with vinegar or lemon juice, or I use the cultured buttermilk powder.
WHAT YOU'LL DO
To make the filling, heat the chicken stock in a large pot until its at a very low simmer. Add the chicken breasts and poach it on low (as in don’t ever let it boil! In this case high heat = tough chicken meat, and you want it tender). It will take about 20 mins, so stay close by and prep your veggies. Remove the chicken from the pot, make sure it’s not pink when cut and set aside to cool. Add the potatoes, carrots, and celery to the pot of low simmering broth and cook them until they are soft, about 5 to 6 mins. Dice the chicken so it’s ready. Drain the veggies in a colander that's set inside a bowl, so you are able to save at least two cups of the broth.
Next, melt the butter in a wide and deep skillet on medium heat. Cook the chopped onion, cook until soft and starting to darken in color, then add in the mushrooms and cook another 3 or 4 mins. Sprinkle in the flour, and cook for a few minutes more until it is evenly absorbed by all the onion/mushroom mixture. Whisk the milk in with 2 cups of broth, and then pour the liquids into the roux in a steady stream, stirring constantly. Bring it to a boil, then add in your thyme and nutmeg, salt and pepper. As a suggestion, start with 1 tsp of salt, and 1/2 tsp black pepper and go from there. Cook the mixture about 5 minutes, the mixture should be thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Add in the peas, diced chicken, and veggies to the skillet and stir to combine. Adjust seasoning to taste and add in a bit more broth if the sauce is too thick for your liking. Turn the filling out into a deep casserole dish, or in a 13x9, and set aside while you make the biscuit crust.
First, preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.
If you want the caramelized leeks in your biscuits (highly recommended) you can make those first by melting 1 Tbs of butter or oil in a small skillet, and then adding in your sliced leek. Then you just have to cook them low and slow, never above medium-low heat, stirring once every minute or two for 10-15 minutes until they totally darken from a light green to a yellowy brown, or caramelize. I know it requires patience, but if you use high heat, they will just burn. You can make use of the time, though, by working on your biscuit dough while you stir the leeks occasionally. When they are done, season with a little salt and pepper, and set aside or briefly refrigerate to cool. Make sure they are at room temp before you add them to the biscuit dough.
To make the crust, sift your dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and soda, salt) together. Cut in the butter (by hand or with a few pulses in a food processor) until the dough looks like course meal. There should definitely still be small chunks of butter that are not mixed in. This will help you have flaky biscuits! Add in the grated cheese and leeks until coated thoroughly by the flour. Whisk the 2 eggs into the buttermilk and very gently stir it into the dry mixture, being careful not to over mix. Lumps are okay! Flour a flat surface and turn out your dough onto it. Pat it down into a large round about 1 inch high. Use a biscuit cutter, jar lid, or drinking glass to cut the dough into circles and place on top of the pot pie filling. You should fit roughly 4 rows of 3, the biscuits should be barely touching (not overlapping) because they will expand in the oven. Brush the top of the biscuits with egg wash and bake in your preheated oven, about 25 minutes, or until the crust is a golden brown and the filling is bubbling up between the biscuits. Any extra biscuits you have can also be brushed with egg wash and baked in the same oven, simultaneously. They don’t need as much time, maybe 15 mins.
I’ve been making this recipe for probably 10 years, adapting it and making it my own over time. The original recipe is from a book called ‘Savoring the Seasons of the Northern Heartland.” It wasn’t even my cookbook, but I photocopied this particular recipe because I knew it was a keeper, and I'm glad I did.