I’ve always found it a little annoying that marketing cretins “geniuses” at baking mix companies have co-opted the term “pot pie” to use on their back-of-package recipes for making a biscuit topped chicken dish. These are the same folk that invent words like “lite”, as if removing some consonants from the word “light” makes their product contain less calories. All I have to say to these nincompoops is that if it doesn’t have a pie crust, it’s not a pie.
That said, there’s certainly nothing wrong with sticking moist golden-brown biscuits atop a filling of chicken, vegetables and a creamy gravy, and there’s a certain allure of not having to roll out a pie dough to make dinner. So what should the dish be called then?
Well, it’s a cobbler. I know that in the US the term “cobbler” is usually preceded by a fruit, but it’s a term used in other English speaking countries to describe any sweet or savory dish covered in biscuit dough. You could even call it a chicken pot-cobbler if you like, but please don’t call it a biscuit topped chicken pot-pie.
So now that that’s off my chest, I’ll get off my soapbox and tell you about this awesome chicken cobbler. Beneath the golden buttery biscuit crust lies a filling that’s as flavorful as it is colorful thanks to the chicken, onions, carrots and mushrooms being thoroughly browned.
For the gravy, I like using a mixture of chicken stock and whole milk to get just the right amount of creaminess without making it too rich and cloying. Because the chicken stock plays such a major role, use the best stock you can get your hands on. My rich chicken stock gives the gravy some nice body with an intense chicken flavor.
As for the chicken, you can certainly use breast meat, but because you’re cooking it twice, it tends to become overcooked in the oven. That’s why I recommend using chicken thighs. Finally, to ensure the peas stay green, I add frozen peas to the filling just before putting everything in the oven. That way, they have just enough time to warm up, without ending up a swampy green color.
Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces and then season with thyme, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper. Heat a frying pan over medium heat until hot and then add the olive oil and chicken. Let the chicken brown on one side, and then flip and brown the other side. Transfer the chicken to a bowl, leaving as much oil in the pan as possible. Add the onions, mushrooms and carrots and saute until the carrots are tender and the onions are browned.Transfer the sautéed vegetables to the bowl with the chicken.
Add the butter and flour to the pan and cook the flour until it's bubbly and free of lumps.Turn down the heat to low and add the chicken stock and milk. Immediately start whisking to prevent clumps of roux from forming.
Once the mixture is smooth, return the vegetables and chicken and turn the heat back up to medium, bringing the mixture to a simmer.
Add the sherry and season with salt. The amount of salt you add will depend on how much salt your chicken stock had, but you should not need to add more than 1 teaspoon of salt. Keep in mind that the mixture will continue to reduce in the oven, so you want it to be slightly under-salted. Let this mixture simmer and thicken while you make the biscuit dough.
Place the oven rack in the middle position and preheat to 425 degrees F (220 C).
Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt to the bowl of a small food processor and pulse a few times to combine.
Add the butter and give it about 10, 1 second pulses until the butter is broken up into small rice-size grains.
Add the peas to the chicken and sauce and then transfer to a 9-inch oven-safe casserole dish.
Dump the flour mixture into a bowl and add the yogurt. Use a spatula to quickly mix the yogurt and flour together until just combined (do not overmix) or your biscuits will get tough.
Working quickly drop the biscuit dough evenly over the surface of the chicken. I find it's easiest to drop strips of dough off a broad spatula into rows. Place the casserole dish in the oven and bake until the chicken mixture is bubbly and the biscuits are golden brown on top (about 10-15 minutes).
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