02 February 2011

Chicken Pot Pie with Sweet Potato Biscuit

We have been working on the 3 types of mixing methods for quick breads in my Baking and Pastry class for the past 4 weeks. We spent two weeks on biscuits alone. There were a few people who really struggled with biscuits. It's pretty easy to build up gluten if you overmix/overwork your dough. But my grandma (who lived with us) was Southern and she made buttermilk biscuits virtually every day of my life. I could make biscuits in my sleep. Not that I didn't learn anything or was bored in class, though! The chef showed us a technique for gathering the dough after all the ingredients are introduced that I have found to work very, very well. Plus, I have so enjoyed learning about the science behind why gluten forms and why the different ingredients work they way they do. Have I mentioned yet I LOVE culinary school?!! :)
  This recipe for Chicken Pot Pie with Sweet Potato Biscuit is an amalgamation of a couple of my recipes that I have not posted yet. What is so great about it (besides the AMAZING biscuits) is that you could easily leave out the chicken and double up on the vegetables. (But that won't make it a vegetarian dish because I use chicken broth in the gravy.) Or you could use entirely different veg. Parsnips instead of potatoes, broccoli, sweet potatoes IN the pie, and you could even add the peas that are supposed to go in this recipe but I totally forgot to include. :)

You will need for the sweet potato biscuits:

2 cups AP flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
5 T butter or shortening (I used Smart Balance sticks--not from the tub)
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup cooked, cooled, and mashed sweet potatoes
1 T honey
1 egg (to be used later as a wash)

Mise en place:

You will need for the pot pie:

1 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped potatoes
1 cup frozen peas
4 T olive oil
2 cups cooked, shredded (or cubed) chicken
3+ cups chicken broth (more on this later)
1 cup milk
3 tsp garlic
6T butter and 6T flour (for the roux)

The first thing you should do when making this recipe is preheat your oven to 375°. Then chop your veggies (except for the peas--you won't add those until you are putting together the pie and adding the gravy). You can use a deep dish pie plate, but I just used an 8-inch square baking dish. Toss the veggies in the dish with the 4T of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Roast them in the oven for 30-45 minutes, taking them out and stirring them every 10 minutes. They will be tender and browned when done. 
   While they are happily roasting away, start your biscuits. Sift together the dry ingredients (or if you are using pre-sifted flour, just whisk them together).

In a small, separate bowl, mix together the sweet potato, buttermilk, and honey. This will keep the sweet potato from clumping and make it easier to add to the flour mixture later. Set it aside.

With the biscuit method, you add all the dry ingredients, cut in the fat, and then add the liquid ingredients. That's it! So now you have to "cut in" the butter. Make sure the butter is cold, not warm, not at all softened. Cube the butter and toss it into the flour mix. Now, if you were to just start cutting it in with a pastry cutter, etc. there would be no point to the cubing. You wind up with a lump of butter. SO, toss the butter cubes in the flour to coat each one and make sure it keeps its hands to itself and away from its buddies.

Now for the new techniques I learned in class. My grandma always used a fork or pastry cutter (in the later years) to cut in the butter, but my pastry chef showed us a method that works amazingly well. Unfortunately, it's easier to show and explain in person, but I'll give it a shot here. :)  Pick up a bit of flour and a cube of butter in one hand and smoosh the flour across the butter cube. Don't push the flour into the cube, but flatten the cube a bit while rubbing the flour across it. Make sense?

Do this with every cube, working quickly so that you don't heat the butter too much. Keep doing this with the cubes until they are all broken up. (You can grab more than one as you go along, of course.) Once the butter/flour has formed large crumbs, starting rubbing it together between your hands. Pretend you are a bad guy in a cartoon and are rubbing your hands together in glee because a you just got one over on Batman...or someone. :) 

Okay, now that your mind if full of thoughts about Christian Bale as Batman...whoo boy...you will have a mix that looks like this:

Now make a well in the center of your dry ingredients and add the sweet potato/buttermilk/honey mixture. About the buttermilk...it makes a HUGE difference. My Bubba doesn't even like biscuits without buttermilk now.

Here's another chef technique: use a fork to toss together the two mixtures. Sweep the leg fork along the sides of the bowl, tossing the dry into the wet and gradually folding/mixing lightly.

When it has barely come together, use your hands to knead it until just combined. Overmixing = gluten! Don't do it! Fold the biscuit dough over itself a few times and then STOP. Cover it with plastic wrap and chuck it into the fridge until you need it. (OR. Stick it in the fridge for 20 minutes, then take it out, roll it out lightly on a lightly floured surface and cut into biscuits. Brush with egg was and bake for 10 minutes.)

While the dough is chilling, start making the roux for the gravy. Melt the 6T of butter in a pan and then add the garlic. Saute for 2 minutes and then add the flour. If you are using a light butter or Smart Balance (non spread/tub) stick, you may need to add more flour because of the higher water content. I added about 2 more tablespoons of flour. You want it to be thick like peanut butter (says my Thursday non-baking chef). Salt and pepper it! Cook for 2 minutes until it picks up a bit of color. Now slowly add the milk and chicken broth.
  Okay, here's a neat trick to make chicken broth a bit more flavorful if you are using store bought (which you probably are). Buy the 32 ounce carton and boil it vigorously until you are left with three cups. You are reducing it and it makes for a richer product.
   Whisk your soon-to-be gravy constantly making sure you eliminate all the lumps. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer (barely a boil). Salt and pepper it again! Now cook it for 20 minutes. I know, long time. But it's totally worth it! This step eliminates all the flour flavor and keeps your gravy silky smooth. It will NOT gelantinize with this process. You may need to add more broth if your gravy starts to get too thick. You want it to be like a thin cake batter. Whisk every couple of minutes. Salt and pepper!  (The chef said, "you know how gravy turns to jello almost before it can even reach the table? That's wrong! But we love our mom's anyway, right?" We all laughed.)
Taste, taste, taste, taste, taste your gravy while it cooks. Add salt and pepper, garlic salt, whatever you like to season it but SEASON AND TASTE often.

Your roasted veggies will be done by now. Take them out of the oven and spread the chicken on top of them. This is when you will add the frozen peas if you don't forget them. Which I did. 

When your gravy is done, pour it on top of your vegetables and chicken.

Oh, yum. This gravy is soooo amazing. Now it's time to add the biscuits. You can lightly roll out the dough and then place it all at once on top of the pot pie OR add the dough by drops and smooth it out over the pot pie. Doesn't matter. I dropped it on and spread it out. Then paint it with the egg wash.

 Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.

 Sooooo good. So flavorful! The amazing gravy, the roasted vegetables, the sweet potatoes and buttermilk in the biscuits!!

 You definitely don't need a side with this meal! You have chicken, vegetables, and most importantly (at least to me and the Goose) the bread. YUM doesn't do it justice.

Make this pot pie soon! Or just make the biscuits because they are divine. The sweet potato mash adds a whole layer of flavor to already delicious buttermilk biscuits.


Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness. That looks wonderful. Especially the sweet potato biscuits.

kitchen flavours said...

Wow, looks absolutely delicious!

Cooking Gallery said...

This sounds and looks like a real comfort food...! I need to give this a try one day.

RSA Certificate said...

Oh my goodness that looks amazing! Love the golden crust ;)

Sharon said...

Wow! This looks amazing! Thanks for sharing :)