feed a crowd: chicken and biscuits

  • 'Tis the holiday season and my lululemon hours fly by with groove pants and scuba hoodies dancing like sugar plums across the register and in my head.  Actually, I'm so tired that if things are dancing in my head while I'm sleeping,  I could not tell you.  Lots of friendly faces pop in to the store and our lulu holi-dance music channel keeps things festive.  Well, the real festive moments come from the singing and dancing of my co-workers (you know who you are; Chloe, Anna and Shannon).

Back at home, the family is gathering.  Greg's off the road and out of the skies for the duration.  Kelly has just one final on Saturday so she's been home all week catching up on sleep, television and shopping.  Sara flies in on Saturday and then we'll all be home for the holidays!   Cut-out cookies, fondue on Christmas Eve, sushi at Sakura and all the other traditions are on the horizon.  Tonight I was supposed to finish my holiday decorating (it is December 15th and all I have done is the tree, sure sign of the almost-empty nest).  Instead I whipped up some chicken and dumplings adapting a Barefoot Contessa recipe.  Had a little stomach thing this morning and asked Greg to buy a whole chicken while I was at work.  Greg dutifully bought a whole chicken, but it was a beautiful grass-fed bird to good for chicken soup.   So it was butterflied and roasted for chicken and dumplings.  I've never had much luck roasting chickens.  First the oven fills with vaporized chicken fat and then smoke and then the blare of the whole-house smoke detectors.  And then everything in the mud room and laundry room just behind the kitchen smells like roasted chicken for days.  Roll out your yoga mat in the morning for a hot vinyasa class and chaturanga dandasana past the savory smell of roast chicken......not good for your stomach or your fellow yogis who might be vegetarians.  Turns out that butterflying the chicken and roasting it on a low rack in the oven just turns out a beautifully roasted bird without the smoke and alarms.  Of course you can just by a lovely rotisserie chicken at Costco or your local market and skip the whole cook the chicken part.  No judgement from the girl with the eau de poulet yoga mat.  

This makes a nice big casserole of chicken and biscuits to feed a crowd.  Just guessing you might have a crowd in your house at some point in the next couple of weeks!

Chicken and Biscuits

one whole chicken
olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper 
4 C chicken stock (the boxed kind from Costco, Trader Joe's or your market is easy and good)
1 T butter
2 C medium-diced carrots
2 C chopped yellow onion
1/2 C flour
1/4 C cream or half and half (I use fat-free half and half and it's perfect)
2 C frozen peas
1/4 C minced fresh parsley

2 C flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 T baking powder
8 T cold unsalted butter, diced
3/4 C buttermilk or half and half
1/4 C minced fresh parsley
1 egg beaten with 1 T water for egg wash

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Rinse chicken and pat dry.  Butterfly, if desired (google how to do this via Fine Cooking magazine).  Rub with olive oil, kosher salt and pepper.  Place on shallow roasting pan and roast until cooked through and golden brown, about 35-45 minutes.  (Keep the oven on).  Set aside to cool enough to handle then remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin (have a little bite of the skin for a treat like when you were a kid, fantastic!  Low-fat adult life is a little boring).  Cut or shred the chicken to bite-size pieces.
In a large pot or dutch oven (this is what your monstrously heavy Le Creuset is for) heat about 2 T of olive oil and melt in the tablespoon of butter.  Saute the onion and garlic until translucent, about 5-7 minutes.  Stir in the flour to coat the vegetables.  Over medium-high heat add the chicken stock and whisk constantly for 2-3 minutes until thickened.  Stir in the cream or half and half.  Add the peas, cooked chicken and parsley.  Season with about 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper.
Spray a 9 x 13 x 2 baking dish with cooking spray and pour in the chicken mixture.  
Make the biscuits either in your stand mixer, food processor or by hand.  Mix together the dry ingredients and the mix in the butter pieces, pulsing or using a pastry blender until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.  Stir in the buttermilk and parsley just until combined.  Drop in about 1/4 C measure or a big heaping tablespoon on top of the chicken mixture.  Brush the biscuit tops with the egg wash.  Bake for 20-30 minutes until the biscuits are golden brown and the chicken mixture is hot and bubbly.

    softened onions and carrots with the flour stirring in

    broth added and thickening

    butterflied and roasted chicken at a weird angle

    peas in the mix

    biscuit dough (before the parsley which I almost forgot)

    chicken mix in the baking dish

    egg washing the biscuits

    all done!


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