My darling friends, Kelly and Cecily, treated me to a fabulous dinner at Communal a few days ago in honor of my 30th birthday. They know how much I love it. (We had the best time. Thanks, ladies!)
My husband felt a little left out, I think. He teased that I always get to eat there and he’s only been a few times. I reminded him that he gave me a gift card to Communal for my birthday and I would be going there with him to use it. So there.
I left him with three rambunctious kids and a piping hot chicken pot pie chock full of his favorites–asparagus, mushrooms, and leeks. Plus I made it with leftover roasted Springer Mountain Farms chicken. See? I didn’t leave him high and dry.
I told him I was going to make a pie crust for the top and he said, “Oh. No biscuit topping then?” Alright, alright. I did a biscuit topping. It ended up being more of a chicken and dumplings because I didn’t get the gravy as thick as I’d liked. No one seemed to mind. (I’ve added that into the recipe below.)
See how happy he is?
For pot pie:
3 cups leftover roasted chicken
Olive oil or butter
1 large onion, diced
3 leeks, rinsed well and thinly sliced
1/2 bunch asparagus (about 12-14 stems or more), tough ends snapped off, cut into 1″ long pieces
6-8 oz. mushrooms (white button or baby bella, whatever you have), sliced
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup flour
4 sprigs fresh thyme
4-6 cups homemade chicken stock*
For Buttermilk Biscuits:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar (optional)
8 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces (if using salted butter, use 1/4 tsp. salt)
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk (1 Tbsp. white vinegar+enough milk to make 1 cup)
For pot pie:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Heat a little olive oil into a large 12″ skillet. Add the onion. Cook on medium, stirring occasionally, until the onions have turned golden and have softened. Add the leeks and continue cooking for a few more minutes until they soften. Add the asparagus and saute until the asparagus barely cooks and turns bright green. (It will finish cooking in the oven, so don’t cook them too much at this point.) Transfer the onions, leeks, and asparagus to a 9″ by 13″ glass baking dish. Set aside until ready to use.
If needed, add a little more olive oil or butter to the skillet and add the mushrooms. Saute the mushrooms until they cook down (they will release liquid as they cook) and turn golden brown. Remove pan from heat and transfer the mushrooms to the bowl with the other vegetables.
Return the skillet to medium heat and add 1/4 cup unsalted butter to the skillet. Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon, cooking for about 1 minute. Add 4 cups of the chicken stock, only adding more if the sauce is too thick. (Add more if you like a thinner sauce.) Add the thyme sprigs and simmer the sauce on medium-low heat while whisking occasionally to prevent lumps for about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the chicken to the sauce and let simmer for a few more minutes. Pour the chicken and sauce over the vegetables in the baking dish. Stir gently so all the ingredients are evenly distributed in the sauce. Set aside while preparing biscuit topping. (Or prepare biscuit topping while veggies and sauce are simmering.)
For biscuit topping:
Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the cold butter and using your fingers or a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles cornmeal with some larger, pea-sized pieces of butter. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the buttermilk all at once. Using a fork, stir the buttermilk quickly into the dry ingredients, being careful not to over-mix. The dry ingredients should be barely moistened and some lumps will remain. Continue with recipe for the pot pie, or if making separately, drop 12 large spoonfuls of dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees F. for about 12 minutes, or until golden brown.
Drop teaspoonfuls of the biscuit dough evenly over the surface of the chicken and vegetables. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the biscuit topping is golden brown and cooked through.
*Both components (the chicken/veggie sauce and biscuits) can be made ahead of time and assembled at the last minute. Prepare biscuits, but do not add the buttermilk until right before you assemble the casserole. The chicken/veggie part can be prepared up to a few days in advance and refrigerated until ready to use.)
*To make homemade chicken stock, heat a large 4-6 quart pot over medium high heat. Add the chicken neck and other giblets (except for the liver), and add cold water to cover by 6-8 inches. Lower heat to a simmer and skim the surface of the stock to remove any foam or scum. Allow to simmer for 2-3 hours. The longer the simmer, the better the flavor will be. Once the carcass has been picked clean of all the meat, add it to the same pot. (This can be done before or after the broth has been started with the giblets and neck.)
I usually do the giblets first and then add the stock, along with the carcass and any juices from the roasting pan to my slow-cooker and let it cook on low overnight. The resulting stock is incredibly rich and full of flavor. If you use a stock pot on the stove, be sure to keep the bones covered with enough water and continue to skim the surface.
When the stock has simmered the desired amount of time, remove the largest pieces from the post with tongs and set aside. (You can pick over them to glean any remaining meat.) Strain the stock through a fine mesh sieve or several layers of cheesecloth into a large clean bowl or pot. Allow the stock to cool slightly before placing it in the refrigerator. Once it has chilled, the fat can be easily removed from the surface and thrown away or saved for another use. If you will be using the stock immediately, skim the fat from the surface as carefully as you can with a spoon.
I had to include this picture because I think it’s always fun to see behind-the-scenes shots. My sweet little redhead is always around to help me with food styling.
(You bet I have pink Havaianas that I wear exclusively when I’m cooking and taking pictures.)