Sunday, February 8, 2009

Chicken and Biscuits for Lovers

This meal is sure to make all those dear to you in your family happy--it is a good old-fashioned chicken and biscuits recipe. Beeper is crazy about it--as is Mr Beeper (who fares from the heartland where food like this was first created for farmers and hard laborers). This a recipe I modified from the cookbook, Barefoot Contessa Family Style. You see, I love Ina Garten's recipes--they are guaranteed delish--BUT there is often too much fat in some of her dishes so I have taken to modifying some of them so I can still live with myself after I eat dinner. And this is one of those recipes--of course, it is still far from low-fat by any means with those biscuits in it...but at least it is improved. And still tasty. So, here's my version...
For the stew:
  • 6 split chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
  • 5 cups of chicken stock--homemade if you have it
  • 8 tbsp of butter (1 stick)
  • 1 large yellow onion or 2 medium
  • 3/4 cup of flour
  • 1/4 cup of half and half
  • 2 cups of medium-diced carrots, blanched in boiling water for 2 minutes
  • 1 10oz package of frozen peas (2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup of minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp of thyme
  • optional: 1 diced red bell pepper, 2 cups of chopped green beans (blanched, as well), or any other veggie you want to throw in....
For the biscuits:
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 cup of wholewheat flour
  • 1TBSP baking powder
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • 1 stick of cold butter, diced
  • 3/4 cup of half and half or milk
  • optional: 1/4 cup of chopped fresh herbs like parsley, chives, or thyme
Pre-heat the oven in 375 degrees and bake the chicken breasts for 35-40 minutes (I like to do this step the night before I plan to make this dish). Once cool, pick the chicken from the bones (discard the skin), and pull apart into bite size hunks. (and if you are industrious and thrifty, save those chicken bones in a bag in the freezer to make homemade stock with at a later date)
Then, in a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock to boiling, while meanwhile you dissolve 1 stick of butter in a large pot and saute the onions over medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until transluscent. Add 3/4 cup of flour and stir that around in the onions over LOW HEAT for about 2 minutes--and do not stop stirring it the whole time under penalty of burnt flour/onion mixture. Add the hot chicken stock (it should be boiling by now) and simmer for about 1 more minute, or until thick. Add 2 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp of pepper, the half and half and the thyme. Mix that all up so it looks all good and gravy-ish--then toss in the chicken, carrots, peas, parsley and any other veggies you chose to add. Mix it up, baby. Now pour it into a a big rectangular baking dish (I like to bake this in two batches--one smaller rectangular dish and a smaller round baking dish--then I freeze the smaller for later consumption when I am lazy and cannot bear the thought of cooking anything) and bake for 15 minutes or so.

Now, onto making those biscuits. Combine the two kinds of flour, baking powder, salt and sugar with a whisk in a somewhat large bowl. Add the stick of diced butter and cut the butter (using a pastry cutter or two forks) into the flour mixture until it is crumbly and has some butter chunks about the size of peas. Add the half and half (or milk) and herbs and mix that in until just mixed--you really want to mix as little as possible so your biscuits will be tender. Then, dump the dough on a well floured service, roll it out to about 1/2 inch thickness and cut out your biscuits. Now, if you are making this for Valentine's dinner, go ahead and use a heart cookie cutter, like I did (and everyone will think you are super Martha-Stewart-y and feel extra loved)--or you can use a plain old biscuit cutter, or even the top of a glass. The main thing is, just use all the dough up in whatever shape you cut these into--then arrange on top of your stew that is baking in the oven. Once all situated on the stew, bake the whole shebang for about another 20-30 minutes or until your biscuits are browned and the stew is all bubbly. And serve.

I actually made this today but am not even serving it to my family because Mr Beeper and I will be in Guatemala next weekend over Valentine's Day (and our anniversary) and Beeper will be staying with dear friends--so I baked this and am freezing it to give to them before we leave so they can enjoy it on Valentine's Day with Beeper and their own families. Let the chicken and biscuit love begin...


jenn said...

yum, yum! I have practically the same pic on my blog from awhile back...but I made the fattening version. bad me.

Hurray for Ina, though! I love her recipes. :)

Tony333 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JustMe1962 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JustMe1962 said...

Sorry, trying that again.

This looks fantastic & I'm making it to be ready when my family gets back from skiing today.

I wanted to ask about the smaller pan you bake for the freezer: Do you bake the whole thing, biscuits and all, then freeze? What about when you want to cook the frozen pan - thaw first?

Thanks, this recipe looks like exactly what I've been craving.

Holly said...

Hey JustME1962--I actually do bake the whole thing and then freeze it. You can transfer into another container easily--just spoon out the biscuits first and dump the chicken stew-part into anther container and re-top with the biscuits and freeze. if you do have a baking pan with a lid you can freeze it in--let it cool and then cover and transfer to the freezer. Now, when you want to bake it you should let it thaw at least partially thaw in the fridge (or defrost in the microwave)--then put in the oven and reheat--I cover mine with some foil for part of the reheating so the biscuits do not get too brown--then uncover the last 10-15 minutes.