Sometimes, I am at a loss for what to make for dinner. I go on-line and search for “dinner ideas.” While I am usually sure—when I see a picture of a dish—about what I do not want to make for dinner, but I sometimes struggle to find what I want. I keep looking, and eventually, I will spot something that just seems right—and off I go.
For this recipe, I did not actually look at the picture’s recipe. I was simply looking for ideas. Combining bits from a couple of my other recipes, I came up with this dish.
Karl’s Chicken and Biscuits
1 lb. chicken thighs
2 Tbs. butter
1 medium yellow onion, diced
½ tsp. Kosher salt
2 stalks celery
1 large carrot, grated
¾ cups green beans, cut into ¼ inch pieces
1 leek, white part only
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. sage
½ tsp. black pepper
14.5 oz. low sodium chicken broth
1 jar (12 oz.) chicken gravy
2½ cups flour, AP
2 Tbs. potato flour (starch)
1 Tbs. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
2+ Tbs. Karl’s Orange Infused Sugar, separate uses
6 Tbs. unsalted butter, semi-frozen
1 large egg
1+ cup whole milk, separate uses (I use lactose free)
1. Put a stick of butter (8 tablespoons) in the freezer for 20-30 minutes, until it is semi-frozen.
Tip: Putting a whole stick of butter in the freezer gives me a handle to keep my fingers away from the grater blades as I shave off six tablespoons.
Note: You do not want the butter to be frozen solid, because it then becomes hard to grate.
2. Cut the chicken into small bite sized pieces.
3. Put the chicken in a small bowl.
4. Melt 2 Tbs. of butter in a large pan, over medium high heat, and add the chicken pieces.
5. Spread the chicken into a single layer and let it fry for 3-4 minutes, until it is well browned on one side.
Tip: Pick up a piece near the center of the pot to check to see how well browned it has gotten.
6. Turn the chicken pieces over and fry the second side for another 2-3 minutes, until well browned.
7. Transfer the chicken to a bowl.
8. Deglaze the pan with a tablespoon of water.
Tip: I frequently use the liquid released by the onions to deglaze the pot, but this time I was not using enough onions to do that. You simply do not want the fond to burn.
9. Sauté the onions with the salt.
10. When the onions have started to pick up some color, 4-5 minutes, add the celery, carrot, and green beans.
Tip: One thing I cannot stand is large lumps of overcooked carrot. I like the flavor, but the mushy texture just puts me off. My usual solution to this problem is to grate the carrots finely, so that they break down into the sauce.
11. Sauté the vegetables until they are starting to get soft, about four more minutes.
12. Stir in the leeks and continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes.
Tip: The leaks fall apart into very thin pieces that cook very quickly.
Note: many cooks cut the leek in half and then cut them halves into half inch segments. I like to crosscut the leek from the green end—cut an “X” down through the stem to cut the leek into quarters—about half way down. The uncut part of the stem holds the cut part in place while I cut thin slices off the cut part. When I have sliced down to the end of my first crosscut, I crosscut the stem again and continue slicing.
13. Pull the vegetables to the sides of the pot and add the garlic to the hole in the center of the pot.
Tip: You may need to add a bit more butter at this point.
14. Sauté the garlic for one minute, until fragrant, and then mix in the rest of the vegetables.
15. Stir in the thyme, sage, pepper, chicken broth, and chicken gravy
Tip: Save a bit of the broth to rinse out the gravy jar.
16. Simmer the stew for 3-4 minutes to meld the flavors and then remove the pan from the heat to cool.
17. While your stew is simmering and cooling, start making your biscuits.
Note: About 15 minutes before you are ready to start baking, pre-heat your oven to 400º F.
18. Sift the flour, potato starch, baking powder, salt, and sugar several times into a large bowl.
Tip: Repeated sifting helps distribute the ingredients evenly through the mix.
Note: If you have not blended your sugar to break up the bits of zest, you may need to add the sugar after sifting, as the zest will get caught in the flour sifter.
19. Using a box grater, grate ¾ of the stick of frozen butter into the flour mixture.
Tip: Half way through, stir the butter shreds into the flour, so that they do not clump together.
20. Use a pastry cutter, to break the butter shreds into tiny bits.
Tip: Many recipes have you cut the butter into large lumps and then you break them up with the pastry cutter. While this eventually works, the heat created by the repeated chopping starts to warm the butter. With the frozen butter shreds you only have to chop the butter a few times to get a thorough mix.
21. Put the egg in a large measuring cup and lightly scramble it.
Tip: I use a fork.
22. Measure one cup of milk and add some of it to the egg.
23. Scramble the milk/egg mixture well.
Tip: This allows you to scramble the egg well, without splashing it all over.
24. Add the rest of the milk and mix it in.
25. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the milk mixture.
Tip: I have found that it is easier to add more flour to dry out a “wet” dough than to add liquid to a “overly dry” dough.
Note: Keep the measuring cup close to hand. You will add some more milk to it to brush on to the tops of the biscuits.
26. Use a spatula to combine the milk and flour mixtures, until most of the dry flour has been incorporated into the dough.
Tip: Unless you have cold hands—like my wife—you want to handle the dough as little as possible. Warm hands—like mine—will melt the butter.
27. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 7-8 times, until there is no visible dry flour.
Tip: Flour your hands and the kneading board well.
Note: If necessary, add a bit more flour to make a soft dough.
28. Form the dough into a ball and roll the dough out into a 14 x 14 inch square.
Tip: Flour your rolling pin well, so that it does not stick and cause tears in the dough sheet.
Note: The dough sheet will be less than ¼ inch thick when you have it all rolled out.
29. Starting at the edge closest to you, fold one third of the dough sheet over the middle third.
Tip: You may need to use a bread board scraper to free the dough from your kneading surface.
30. Take the edge that is farthest from you and fold that third over the first two layers.
Tip: This is called a letter-fold.
Note: You will now have a rectangular piece of dough, three layers thick.
31. Letter fold the outer edges of this rectangle in to the center.
Note: This will produce a thick four inch square of dough nine layers thick.
32. Re-flour your board and roll the dough square into another 14 x 14 inch square.
Note: Within each layer of dough, the cold butter will be squished into thin flakes, trapped in a gluten web.
33. Letter-fold the dough sheet again.
Tip: First the top and bottom edges and then the sides.
Note: You will now have a four inch square of dough with 91 layers.
34. Roll the dough out to one half inch thick.
Note: This will be about an eight inch square of dough.
35. Cut the biscuits out with a 2½ inch biscuit cutter.
Tip: Pull the dough scraps together and re-roll the dough and cut out as many biscuits as you need to cover the stew.
Note: If you have any leftover biscuits, bake them separately.
Assembling the Chicken and Biscuits
36. Butter a deep casserole.
37. Pour the cooled chicken stew into the baking dish.
38. Arrange the biscuits over the stew.
Tip: The biscuits do not have to actually touch—they will expand a bit as they cook—but it is OK if they do touch.
39. Bake the casserole, at 400° F, on the middle rack, for 20-30 minutes.
Tip: Rotate the dish after half way through to allow for even browning.
Note: The back of your oven will always be slightly hotter than the front—unless you have a convection oven.
40. Bake until the stew is bubbling and the biscuits are golden brown and cooked through.
Tip: The biscuits in the center will take longer than the ones along the edge. Use an instant read thermometer to check to see if they are cooked through—about 200º F.
Note: If the inner biscuits are underdone and the outer biscuits are at risk of burning drape some aluminum foil over the outer edges to protect them.
41. Remove the casserole from the oven and let it cool for ten minutes before serving.
Tip: Do not cover the baking dish or the condensation will make the tops of your biscuits soggy.
42. Serve warm.
Tip: While this is a one dish meal, you may serve it with a green side salad.