A Real Southern Chicken Pot Pie Recipe
It was four in the afternoon on Christmas Eve and we were still trying to decide what we’d be serving for Christmas dinner the very next night. (No time like the present!) Originally we’d discussed big, Italian-style meatballs...but that idea had deflated like an old, worn out balloon. I suggested a big ass pan of our favorite lasagna...but that proposal was met with a shoulder shrug and a meagre, “Yeah, mayyybe.” It was only when I uttered the words “Chicken Pot Pie” that my husband’s face lit up. “That’s an idea,” he said with a nod.
In the past, I’ve used this recipe for Chicken Pot Pie from Bon Appetit (and always added quite a bit extra in the way of both mushrooms and thyme because I adore both ingredients and firmly believe that adding more of each can only result in a superior flavor profile) and it’s always proved delicious. But this time we made one more modification, and boy am I glad that we did.
When Christmas Day came, and we were ready to cover our pie in its signature buttery crust...I realized that I hadn’t yet made one. Shit. But as fate would have it, we did have some leftover biscuit dough from our Christmas breakfast that morning. Score! Our beautiful, chickeny concoction was tucked in under a fluffy biscuit blanket instead of the standard sheet of pie crust, and what emerged from the oven 20 minutes later was quite possibly the best chicken pot pie I’ve ever inhaled. Not only did the biscuit dough soak up a little bit of the excess moisture from the pot-pie filling, resulting in a slightly thicker sauce, but the flaky and fluffy golden crust acted as the perfect sponge to soak up any sauce drizzles that slithered across my plate. No delightful morsel went to waste!
Chicken Pot Pie with Biscuit Topping
Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Yield: 4 large servings, or 6 standard servings
1 4lb. chicken, whole
1 small onion, halved
2 carrots, whole
4-6 cloves garlic, smashed
2 bay leaves
1 Tbs. whole peppercorns
2 Tbs. kosher salt
1 ½ lb flour
17.5 g salt
1.25 oz baking powder
0.25 oz baking soda
¼ lb lard
¼ lb butter
16 oz buttermilk
7 Tbs. butter, room temperature, chilled
5 Tbs. AP flour
2 Tbs. olive oil
8oz assorted mushrooms
1 large onion, small dice (1 cup)
3 ribs celery, small dice (1 cup)
3 carrots, peeled and diced (1 cup)
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs. fresh thyme
2 ½ cup chicken stock *reserved from poaching liquid
5 cups poached chicken, pulled *from poached chicken, above
1 ½ cup frozen green peas
⅓ cup whipping cream
½ cup fresh chopped Italian parsley
1 splash water
PREP: Prepare all of your vegetables first, saving all of the scraps you would normally discard: carrot shavings, herb stems, onion peels, etc. Set your chopped veggies aside, separate from scraps.
POACH THE CHICKEN: fill a large stock pot with cold water and submerge the chicken. Add onion, carrots, garlic, bay leaves, salt, pepper, and mise en place scraps, and give it a stir to make sure everything is underwater. Bring to a boil and then drop to a simmer for 1 hour. Test chicken with a thermometer to make sure it’s done. It should read 165. Using tongs, carefully remove chicken from pot, reserving the liquid. Allow chicken to cool. When cool enough to handle, pull chicken from carcass and set aside. Discard carcass.
Set a large bowl in the sink with a colander inside. Pour the poaching liquid through the colander into the bowl to strain solids out. Discard solids. Let chicken broth cool slightly. Scum may rise to the surface while broth cools; simply skim off the top and discard before using broth. Note: You won’t likely use all of the broth; store the rest in an airtight container. Will keep for 1 week in fridge, or 3 months in freezer.
MAKE PIE FILLING: Mix 5 tablespoons melted butter and flour in small bowl until smooth. Melt 2 tablespoons butter with oil in large wide pot over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, onion, celery, and carrots; sauté until vegetables start to soften and brown, about 10 minutes.
Add thyme and garlic; stir 3 minutes. Add wine; boil until almost evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add 2 1/2 cups chicken broth; bring to simmer.
Add butter-flour mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time; whisk until incorporated and mixture boils. Reduce heat; simmer until sauce thickens, stirring often, about 5 minutes.
Stir in chicken, peas, cream, and parsley; bring to simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Note: Can be made 8 hours ahead. Cool slightly. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Rewarm before continuing, adding broth by 1/4 cupfuls if mixture too very thick.
MAKE BISCUIT DOUGH: In a food processor, combine flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, lard, and butter. Pulse until mixture resembles cornmeal. Remove from food processor and transfer to a large bowl. Add buttermilk to flour mixture and mix with hands until combined; should be sticky. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and fold over itself three or four times (this creates those nice fluffy layers).
Preheat oven to 425°F.
ASSEMBLY: Divide filling evenly between four 5x5” ceramic dishes or one large, 9x13” casserole dish. Lightly dust counter with flour, and either press or roll out biscuit dough to ½” thick. If using individual dishes, cut dough into four even squares. Lay crust atop the chicken filling, not worrying about pressing it into the edges of the dish (this acts more like a streusel topping versus a pie topping). Simply tear off any dough that hangs over the edges and discard or save for later use. Brush egg wash over the top of the biscuit dough. Cut three long slits diagonally along the centerline of the casserole dish, or cut an X at the center of each small dish. Season with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper, if desired.
Bake until heated through, about 20 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.