Tastes like chicken – because it is!

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Chicken, it’s what’s for dinner

Fall is in the air, which means I can finally get back to hearty cooking and heating up my kitchen.  I’m sharing with you a few favorites of mine, ones that I don’t think I’ve ever gotten tired of eating.  They’re hearty, they’re homey, and for me they bring back a certain nostalgia of family dinners in Ohio.

It’s no secret that I love pot pies.  As a matter of fact, I love nearly any kind of pie, which is no big secret, either.  One thing people don’t always know about me, is that I can’t stand making pie crust.  It’s a delicate process of finding the right flour to butter to water ratio, and I can rarely get it right. When I do, it’s an uphill battle to get it rolled out to the right shape.

When browsing for inspiration to what I should make for dinner last week, a picture of an elegantly crafted pot pie wandered across my screen, and I caught myself drooling – then I groaned at the prospect of making a pie crust.  While continuing my search, I saw a cottage pie and thought, “Why can’t I just put a thick crust on top and forget the bottom shell?”  Now here we are.  I’m quite aware that a cottage pie is topped with mashed potatoes, but in the picture given, it reminded me of something else golden brown – biscuits.

I had a friend in college who would make me flow chart my thought processes, because he said I was random.  I in turn proved him he just wasn’t thinking as fast as I do.  Current illustration being, that reminder of biscuits also reminded me that in the annals of family recipes, there is a super simple biscuit recipe, which turned out to make an excellent pot pie crust.  Thank you, Great Grandma, wherever you are.

Contrary to how one might think, trying to drop a mass of biscuit dough on top of the filling and trying to spread it out is not the approach to take. (Photos by Sally Michaelis)

Chicken Pot Pie

Filling:

  • 2 cooked  and shredded chicken breasts
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • ¾ Cup frozen green beans
  • 1 Cup chicken broth
  • 2 Cups milk
  • 3 Tbsp. flour
  • ½ tsp. Dry mustard
  • ½ tsp. Thyme
  • ½ tsp. Sage
  • ½ tsp. Rosemary
  • ¼ tsp. Tarragon
Got to love crust.

Crust:

  • 2 Cups flour
  • 4 tsp. Baking powder
  • ¾ tsp. Salt
  • 2 Tbsp. Shortening
  • ¾ Cups milk

 

Preheat oven to 375.

Cook chicken breasts and shred, set aside.  In the same skillet, throw in onion, garlic, celery, and carrots, cook until soft.  Add green beans, then sprinkle in 3 tablespoons of flour, stirring until everything is coated. Pour in the broth and the milk, stirring until blended, whisking out lumps.  Add chicken and seasonings, simmer to let thicken.

While the filling is simmering, in a medium sized bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt.  Cut in shortening, then pour in milk.  Mix until elastic and wet, but not runny.

Grease a 9×13” baking dish, and pour in filling.  Drop in biscuit dough by the tablespoon until top is covered.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until top is golden brown.

This next one is an old family favorite.  While I’m sure a French culinary artist would be dismayed that I dare call this chicken cordon bleu, I don’t know it by any other name.  I’m also certain that there are much more exact, more elaborate recipes by this moniker, but this is the fast and easy way to it, the kind you put together when you have one night free from practices or meetings and have the chance to sit down and eat as a family.  This is one of the first dinners my brothers and I learned.  The sauce makes an excellent gravy that goes beautifully over mashed potatoes, as I traditionally had it, as well as over steamed cauliflower, a healthier alternative.

Behold the gooey rolled up wonder!

Chicken Cordon Bleu

  •  4 Chicken Breasts
  • ½ lb. Deli sliced ham
  • 4 oz. Swiss, mozzarella, or provolone cheese, cut into cubes
  • 2 Cans cream of chicken (or cream of mushroom) soup

Pound out chicken breasts to about ¾” thick, lay out flat.  Place in two or three cheese cubes, then roll up.  Wrap two slices of ham around it, secure with toothpick, arrange in a baking dish.  When the chicken is in the dish, pour the cans of soup over it, and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Tip of the week: Recipes get exponentially easier when you chop your meat and veggies before starting.  This way you’re not racing the clock to add in the next ingredient.

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