Hearty and delicious comfort food!
Variations of this dish have been around for probably a hundred years or more and for good reason, as it’s a family-friendly meal that tastes fantastic. I remember as a kid having it served with the creamy chicken mixture spooned on top of split biscuits; I’ve also seen it prepared where the biscuits are baked on top of the chicken mixture but in my experience I found the bottom of the biscuits get soggy so that’s why I like to cook them separately. Don’t be daunted by the length of the recipe – it is very easy and I’ve just been very detailed in explaining the steps. Note that you can make the creamy chicken and vegetable mixture ahead of time and refrigerate; similarly you can measure out the biscuits’ dry ingredients and grate in the butter. Just before serving, reheat the chicken mixture as you finish assembling and baking the biscuits.
- 1.5 lbs (700 g) boneless skinless chicken breasts (4-6 depending upon size)
- Handful celery leaves
- 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 inch (2.5 cm) piece of ginger root, coarsely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, halved
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 tablespoons (28 g) butter
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 medium carrot, chopped
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 1/2 cup (113 g) butter
- 1/2 cup (65 g) all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 cups (625 mL) reserved broth from cooking chicken
- Few pinches each salt, pepper and nutmeg (or more, to taste)
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) Worcestershire sauce (or more, to taste)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 cup (250 mL) light (5%) cream or whole milk
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour
- 4 teaspoons (20 mL) baking powder
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) white sugar
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) very cold salted butter
- 2/3 cup (180 mL) milk or buttermilk
- Place chicken in a pot with celery leaves, salt, pepper, bay leaves, ginger, garlic and thyme. Add just enough water to cover. Place lid on pot and bring to a boil then reduce heat to a steady simmer. Cool until chicken reaches 165F, about 20 minutes.
- Strain mixture, reserving the broth, discarding seasonings and putting the chicken on a plate to cool slightly. When chicken has cooled, trim off any tough spots then cut into 3/4 inch pieces.
- While chicken cooks, prepare biscuits by placing flour, baking powder and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Grate the cold butter into the bowl and toss with your fingers to combine. Add milk and stir quickly to form a shaggy dough.
- Turn out onto a sheet of parchment paper (or clean work surface) and knead gently 4 – 6 times to pull mixture together into a ball. Use your hands to pat mixture down into a rectangle of 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) thickness. Cut with a 2” (5 cm) circle cutter (or cut into squares with a sharp knife) and transfer biscuits to a parchment line baking tray to rest while you finish preparing casserole. You can shape the remaining scraps of dough into a ball, pat down again and cut additional biscuits. These will not rise as much as those in the first cutting, but they’ll still be delicious.
- At this point, preheat oven to 400F.
- Next, in a large pot placed over medium heat, melt butter and sauté the onions, carrots and celery until tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer cooked vegetables to a clean bowl and set aside.
- Make sauce by melting a half cup of butter in the same pot. Add flour and stir to combine; cook over medium heat for about two minutes until the aroma of the flour resembles baking cookies.
- Gradually add chicken broth, whisking to combine for a smooth sauce, then add in salt and pepper, nutmeg, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, and cream. Whisk regularly until sauce has thickened. Stir in cooked chicken and vegetables then taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Cover pot and keep mixture warm over low heat while the biscuits bake.
- Place baking tray in preheated oven and bake biscuits 12 – 14 minutes, until puffed and golden brown on top.
- To serve, spoon hot creamy chicken mixture into serving dishes and top with biscuits, or pass biscuits at the table.