Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie (Biscuit Crust)

We use a lot of boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  They can be boring, dry, and flavorless.  There are two excellent ways to add flavor and moisture to meat - brining and poaching.

Brining means to soak the raw meat in a cold solution of salt, sugar, and spices for a period time.  The solution is discarded.  The meat is usually rinsed then prepared any way raw meat would normally be cooked.  This is great for grilling or broiling.

Poaching means to slowly cook the meat in a seasoned liquid.  The liquid can be saved to be make a sauce or to cook rice, potatoes, couscous, pasta, etc.  The meat can be served directly from the poaching or used in any dish that calls for cooked meat.  This method  is great for pot pie, enchiladas, meat salads,  even tacos.

So what does all this have to do with Chicken Pot Pie?  If your chicken doesn't have any flavor, your pot pie might as well come from the grocer's freezer.  I've found that it doesn't matter how well you season your vegetables and gravy, it's the meat that carries the flavor.

Chicken Prep:
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 teaspoons Sage
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoons turmeric
2 cups water and 2 teaspoons chicken base (bouillon) -OR- 2 cups Chicken broth
1/4 cup white wine (optional add more broth if not using)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and "smashed" (to smash just push down on the clove with the flat of the knife or the bottom of a bowl until the skin breaks)
You need a nonstick pan  with lid (or one that has been sprayed with cooking spray to make it nonstick) large enough that the chicken pieces can lay flat without touching.
Over medium to medium high heat place the chicken in the pan so that the pieces don't touch.  Sprinkle with the spices.  Cook until you see "white" around all the edges but the top of the chicken is still "pink"  Turn the chicken over and add the broth, wine, and garlic.  bring to a slow boil.   Cover and reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook 20 minutes.  Remove chicken. Chill if not using immediately.  Save all liquid strain before using, but keep all the "stuff" in the liquid until  ready to use. (it's all flavor)

Now we're ready to make Pot Pie.
Chicken Pot Pie:
4 – 6 slices bacon cut into ¼ inch pieces
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
½ cup crimini mushrooms, sliced then quartered
2 cloves garlic, crushed (or very finely minced)
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon sage
½ cup all purpose flour
5 cups liquid (strained poaching liquid plus milk we used Almond Milk)
2 – 3 cups your choice frozen vegetables (we used Peas and Broccoli)
Poached chicken, diced
Bacon Herb Biscuit Crust (below)
Preheat oven to 400F Spray a 13 X 9 baking dish with cooking spray.

In large deep skillet over medium heat render the bacon until it gives up its fat and is crisp. Remove Bacon to a paper towel and set aside.

Using the bacon fat sauté the celery, onion, and mushrooms until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic, black pepper, and sage mix well. Sprinkle the flour over everything in the pan. Stir and scrape for at least two minutes by the clock to cook the flour. (look for no white floury bits anywhere) Slowly add the liquid while stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan. (An extra hand helps here!) Once it's all mixed you can raise the heat to bring it to a boil. (keep stirring) Once it boils remove from heat and add everything else. Stir well and pour into the baking dish. Top with the crust.

Bacon Herb Biscuits
3 cups +/- Bisquick (yes, you can use store brand. We use Bisquick because it isn't made with dairy.)
1 cup +/- milk (we used Almond Milk)
½ teaspoon +/- garlic powder
½ teaspoon +/- onion powder
½ teaspoon +/- sage
the reserved bacon
extra Bisquick or all purpose flour for kneading

In a correctly sized bowl, mix the Bisquick and herbs together. Toss in the bacon. Slowly add the milk until a ball is formed and dough is not sticky. Turn out on floured board or pastry sheet knead a few times. Pat or roll to 3/8 inch thick. Cut into rounds. Re-roll scraps for 15 +/- biscuits.

Arrange biscuits on top of filling. Bake at 400F for 20 -30 minutes until biscuits are golden and filling is bubbly.

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