Monday, January 7, 2013

Roasted Chicken & Vegetable Cobbler aka The BEST Chicken Pot Pie Ever

I'm struggling on where to start on describing how good this Roasted Chicken and Vegetable Cobbler is.  Think of the best chicken pot pie you've ever tasted and imagine it ten times more delicious.  No exaggeration.  It's that good.  Which is why I'm renaming it the Best Chicken Pot Pie Ever.

Rich and creamy, it is comfort food taken to a new decadent, yet still completely comfortable, level.  The first thing you taste is the buttery, slightly crispy around the edges, light, and fluffy biscuit topping.  Cloud-like in texture, yet sturdy enough to stand up to the filling.  The filling is creamy and flavorful and satisfying.  Not gloppy or bland like a lot of pot pie fillings tend to be.  

Don't let the recipe scare you off.  There are several steps, but each is easy and the whole thing takes about an hour or so.  I've included some changes in the Cook's Notes that I plan to make the next time I make it to reduce the steps and prep time.  I've also included some suggestions to reduce the overall calories since this is not a dish for those on a diet.  Life is about balance and that includes the occasional splurge.  If you are having one of those days or need something extra special, make it as written. Just make it!

The whole thing is just fabulous.  This is my new go to recipe for chicken pot pie.

Cook's Notes:  I've included the recipe pretty much straight from the cookbook below but plan on making the following changes next time to lighten it up a bit and to reduce the prep time.  Use 2 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil to saute the onions.  Substitute half and half for the heavy cream.  Use a package of frozen mixed corn, peas, and carrots instead of fresh carrots and separate bags of frozen veggies to save time.  This should also eliminate the need to simmer the chicken stock for 15 minutes.  Feel free to omit or sub seasonings as needed.  I used a pinch of fennel seed instead of fennel pollen and it worked fine.  

Another way to reduce the calories and fat is by halving the topping recipe.  You would still have a delicious layer of topping just not quite as thick.

Roasted Chicken & Vegetable Cobbler
slightly adapted from The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook, Cheryl Day & Griffin Day

For the Filling:
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup finely diced yellow onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 peeled carrots, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 celery ribs, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
5 cups store-bought roasted chicken, shredded into bite-sized pieces
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
One 8-ounce package frozen pearl onions, thawed
1 teaspoon fennel pollen
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

For the Topping:
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder, preferably aluminum-free
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, but into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, plus more for brushing the tops

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 450°.  Butter a 9 x 13 x 2" baking dish.

To make the filling:  Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the diced onion and garlic and saute until tender, about 8 minutes.  Add the chicken broth, carrots, celery, salt, and pepper, lower the heat to medium-low, partially cover the pot, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.

Stir in the cream, raise the heat to medium, and cook, covered, until all the vegetables are tender, 12 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, blend the remaining 8 tablespoons butter and the flour in a small bowl to make a smooth paste. 

When the vegetables are tender, lower the heat and whisk the flour paste bit by bit into the broth until combined.  Add the roasted chicken, peas, corn, pearl onions, fennel pollen thyme, sage, cayenne, and nutmeg, cover the pot, and let the filling simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the topping.  In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flours, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt and whisk until completely incorporated.  Add the butter and, working quickly, cut it in with a pastry blender.  You should have various-sized pieces of butter, from sandy patches to pea-sized chunks, and some larger bits as well.  Gradually pour in the buttermilk and gently fold the ingredients until you have a soft dough and there are no bits of flour in the bottom of the bowl.  You should still see lumps of butter in the dough.  If the dough seems dry, you may need to add a little more buttermilk.  The dough should be moist and slightly sticky.

Transfer the filling to the prepared baking dish.  Arrange the unbaked topping over the filling, leaving about 1/5 inch between them.  (I used a large ice scream scoop but you could roll the dough out and cut it into pieces if you prefer.)  Brush the topping with the remaining buttermilk and bake for 20 minutes, or until they turn golden brown.  Remove from the oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving.  
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