We’ve been having horrible weather in the Northeast. For the last couple of weeks, it’s been cold, gray, and drizzly. The sun seems to have abandoned us. And worst of all, the rainy humidity has been making my hair frizz. I leave my apartment every morning with perfectly straightened hair and by the time I get to work half an hour later, I look like a marginally more appealing version of Medusa. Thankfully, my colleagues are not a judgmental bunch. I hope.
This is the type of weather that makes you want to stay under the covers in your pajamas all day and watch bad TV. It’s the type of weather that creates a deep longing for comfort food. And what better comfort food is there than a bubbling dish of chicken pot pie and biscuits swimming in a thick, creamy sauce studded with sweet, colorful vegetables?
I made this for lunch today with the help of my able assistant N., who shredded the chicken meat with the meticulousness of a plastic surgeon and then washed the dishes while I cooked, thereby earning himself many brownie points. It was a day so filled with much-needed warmth and sunshine that college boys were jumping nearly naked from a bridge into the Charles River. The weather was nice enough that in the afternoon, we went rowing on the very same river with a couple of friends and survived several close calls where it seemed like the mini-waves were going to overturn our kayaks. Clearly, none of us were in crew in college.
As afternoon faded into evening, however, drizzle set in again in the form of a dense, impenetrable mist. (This must be as close as I will ever come to knowing what it’s like to have Dementors in the vicinity.) Thankfully, I have enough leftover pot pie in the fridge to comfort me through another day or two of this miserable “spring.”
Creamy Chicken Pot Pie & Chive Biscuits
Adapted from Joy the Baker
Yield: At least 12 biscuits and a 9×13 inch dish of pot pie (Note: my pictures only depict a half recipe)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
1/4 cup (2 ounces) butter, cold and cut into cubes
4 ounces (half a brick) cream cheese, cold
3/4 cup buttermilk, cold
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, black pepper, and chives.
Add butter and cream cheese to the dry ingredients. Using your fingers, quickly incorporate the butter and cream cheese into the flour. Break up the butter and cream cheese by rubbing with your fingers until some of the fat is the size of oat flakes and some of the fat is the size of small pebbles. The key is to break up the fat as quickly as possible so that it doesn’t get too warm and melt from the heat of your fingers.
Make a small well in the center of the flour mixture. Add the buttermilk. Using a fork, combine the wet and dry ingredients, moistening all of the flour bits with the liquid. The dough will be shaggy. Lightly flour a work source and dump the biscuit dough onto it. Knead a few turns and pat dough into a disk about 1 1/2 inches thick.
Use a round 1 1/2-inch biscuit or cookie cutter to cut biscuits. Gather the dough scraps, knead for a few turns, and cut out more biscuits until no dough remains. Place biscuits on a cookie sheet and place in the fridge until ready to bake.
(Note: Biscuits can be made in advance. After placing them on the cookie sheet, flash freeze for at least 30 minutes, then individually wrap biscuits with cling wrap and store in a ziploc bag in freezer for up to 1 month. Defrost biscuits a few hours before you want to make the pot pie.)
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups whole milk
4 ounces (half a brick) cream cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
3 cups shredded cooked chicken meat
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 cup carrots, diced
1 cup zucchini, diced
1 1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
*Mushrooms and broccoli would also be nice additions or substitutions to this dish.
(Note: Don’t bother cooking the chicken meat yourself. Buy a rotisserie chicken and save yourself some trouble. Keep the skin on if you want some extra flavor.)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Whisk in the flour. Mixture will be thick and a little crumbly. Heat for 1 minute. Turn heat to low and add chicken stock, whisking until no flour clumps remain. Add milk and cream cheese and keep on whisking over medium low heat until cream cheese has melted and the mixture is the consistency of warm, thick pudding. Add chicken, lemon, and nutmeg. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir. Remove mixture from heat and set aside.
Add olive oil, butter, or cooking spray to a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onions and saute until softened and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add minced garlic and saute for one minute more. Add carrots, zucchini, and peas. Cook for about 3 minutes. The vegetables will not be entirely cooked through, but they will finish cooking in the oven. Remove from heat and add vegetable mixture to the creamy chicken mixture. Stir to combine.
Spoon or pour filling into a 9×13-inch pan. Place biscuits on top of the filling. Brush the tops of the biscuits with heavy cream, buttermilk, or egg wash.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until biscuits are puffed and golden, and the sides of the pot pie are bubbling. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.
To reheat, preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Cover dish with foil and bake until warmed through, about 15 minutes.