Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Chicken Stew with Biscuits on Top ~

Are you having a good week? I hope so! I've been working on the house because Paula and her family--Paula, Jim, Jamie, Phil and Jon--may be coming by from Arizona, and I don't want to be caught with a messy house! When I saw this recipe in Barefoot Contessa Family Style, I was thinking about a lot of people eating here and decided to share a family style dish with you.

Ina's take on this recipe is this: "I'm a big believer in recipes that can be served in lots of ways. It takes the stress out of cooking when I know how to make a dish. This is essentially the filling for a chicken pot pie topped with homemade biscuits; you can substitute any pot pie filling, such as the one for lobster pot pie or vegetable pot pie." So see if you think that you and your family would enjoy a big dinner of chicken stew. And don't let the process  of chopping vegetables scare you. You only have to chop onions and carrots, since you can buy the rest frozen. And it's definitely worth the effort!

Serves 8
For the stew
3 whole (6 split) chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
2 chicken bouillon cubes
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 cups medium-diced carrots (4 carrots), blanched for 2 minutes
1 10-ounce package frozen peas (2 cups)
1 1/2 cups frozen small whole onions
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley

For the biscuits
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
3/4 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Please the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cooked through. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin. Cut the chiken into large dice. You will have 4 to 6 cups of cubed chicken.

In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock and dissolve the bouillon cubes in the stock. In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the onions over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until translucent. Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Add the hot chicken stock to the sauce. Simmer over low heat for 1 more minute, stirring until thick. Add 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and the heavy cream. Add the cubed chicken, carrots, peas, onions, and parsley. Mix well. Place the stew in a 10 X 13 X 2-inch oval or rectangular baking dish. Place the baking dish on a sheet pan lined with parchment or wax paper. Bake for 15 minutes. 

Meanwhile, make the biscuits. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas. Add the half-and-half and combine on low speed. Mix in the parsley.

Dump the dough out on a well-floured board and, with a rolling pin, roll out to 3/8 inch thick. Cut out twelve circles with a 2 1/2-inch round cutter. 

Remove the stew from the oven and arrange the biscuits on top of the filling. Brush them with egg wash, and return the dish to the oven. Bake for another 20 to 30 minutes, until the biscuits are brown and the stew is bubbly. 

To make in advance, refrigerate the chicken stew and biscuits separately. Bake the stew for 25 minutes, then place the biscuits on top, and bake for another 30 minutes, until done. 

And I'll add this thought to the recipe: I watched Nigella Lawson make individual pot pies today with filo dough on top. So if you aren't inclined to make biscuits, think about buying frozen filo dough. Or if you prefer, regular frozen pastry. Or even frozen or canned biscuits. Several choices and all good! 

I think you and your family will enjoy this recipe. Now...what in the world for dessert? 


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