Perhaps this recipe treads dangerously close to chicken & dumplings territory (which I love, possibly even more than pot pie). Maybe that’s why this version is my favourite way to eat chicken pot pie. Pastry (i.e. pie crust) is of course delightful, but I’m a sucker for a buttery biscuit. The way the tops get crisp and golden while the bottoms steam in a pool of what is essentially gravy? Uhhhhhhhhhh. I would eat this ANY OLD TIME.
Although the recipe may seem daunting and detailed, it’s really just time-consuming (but quite easy!). It’s part of what makes this dish the kind of thing you would just love to eat for a Sunday dinner after spending a leisurely afternoon day-drinking wine and cooking. Make something green for the side, get some ice cream for dessert, and pour all your efforts into this little darlin’.
Biscuit-Topped Chicken Pot Pie
Very slightly adapted from Stella Parks (Serious Eats)
2 L chicken stock
1 4-5 lb fryer chicken, divided into thighs, drums, breasts, wings
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
2 large celery stalks, diced
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
2 thyme sprigs
3 large parsley sprigs
2 rosemary sprigs
2 bay leaves
4 ½ tsp gelatin (powdered)
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour, measured correctly
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 large celery stalk, diced
½ cup white wine
1 cup frozen peas
1 ¾ tsp kosher salt (preferably Diamond Crystal variety) + more to taste
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 cups all-purpose flour, very loosely packed
2 tbsp white sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp kosher salt (preferably Diamond Crystal variety)
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes and chilled thoroughly
1 cup buttermilk, chilled
Start by making the chicken base. Combine all of the base ingredients in a deep stockpot, cover, and place over medium heat until the liquid reaches ~150 degrees F on a cooking/candy thermometer. For those of you who do not own a thermometer, this is about the point where fat, lazy bubbles are gently popping on the surface of the liquid and the stock has that gentle quiver of something about to boil. Try to keep the stock at this temperature for about an hour, or until the chicken parts have all cooked through. Remove the chicken pieces from the pot and set aside on a cutting board to cool. Strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve, discarding any solids. Leave to cool for about an hour, scooping a ¼ cup out as you’ll need to have some that reaches room temperature.
Once the stock has cooled enough, start on the pot pie filling. Whisk the ¼ cup room temperature stock with the gelatin in a small bowl until completely smooth. Set aside. In a large, very deep skillet (or Dutch oven if you don’t have a big skillet), melt the butter over medium-low heat. Once foaming, whisk in the flour and keep stirring until the flour turns a golden-brown shade and smells nutty (~4 minutes). Stir in the diced onion, carrot, and celery, then continue cooking until the vegetables have softened slightly, about 7 minutes. Gradually pour in the wine along with 4 cups of the prepared chicken stock, stirring constantly to remove any floury lumps from the mix. Any remaining stock can be saved for another time (you can freeze it for up to 6 months!). Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, stirring all the while. Once the mixture begins bubbling, you can pull it off the heat and stir in the frozen peas, prepared gelatin (which has probably congealed – just scrape it in), salt, pepper, thyme, and Worcestershire sauce. Keep mixing until the gelatin has completely melted into the sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
Shred the reserved chicken pieces from the stock (discarding skin and bones, obviously) and stir the meat into the filling. If the vessel that you prepared the filling in is ovenproof, feel free to leave everything as is, but if it is not, scrape the filling into a large baking dish. Either way, place the dish/skillet on a baking sheet (for catching those inevitable drips).
Prior to mixing up the biscuit dough, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the cold butter cubes and toss to coat. Use your fingers to individually smash the butter cubes flat between your fingertips. Keep smashing and rubbing the butter until it has broken up into small pieces and resembles cereal flakes. Use a rubber spatula to stir in the cold buttermilk, just until incorporated (use a knife to scrape the spatula down as needed). Spoon ~1 tbsp portions of dough on top of the filling, attempting to cover it with biscuits as best you can. Bake until the biscuits are golden and the filling is bubbling-hot, between 45-60 minutes. Cool at least 30 minutes before dishing up. Rest your weary head on one of those pillowy biscuits; your job is over.