Sunday, December 26, 2010

Chicken and Vegetable "Cobbler"

My first chicken pot pie was a Marie Callanders version fresh out of the freezer at the grocery, heated up in the microwave.  It left a little to be desired (as all frozen meals do), but it was still quite good. Since then I have tried a few versions, including one I made myself last fall.  Unfortunately, my filling was more than a little soupy.  So it was chicken soup topped with puff pastry...  Since that version I have been meaning to make a new version topped with biscuit dough.  Then I stumbled across this recipe for "Chicken and Vegetable Cobbler" on Mark Bittman's NY Times blog Bitten several months ago.  And it used a homemade biscuit dough as the topping.  So I bookmarked it to make it once the weather got a little colder.  Since it was cold and snowy outside today, it seemed like the perfect opportunity.  So Alex and I trudged down to the grocery store in the snow and bought all of the ingredients and then came home and whipped it up this evening, after romping in the snow with the puppy for an hour.  Did I mention it's his birthday today?  Brady is two!

As with many of the recipes that I find online, I modified this one a bit.  Neither Alex, nor I, are huge fans of peas and cooked carrots, but we do love corn so I cut down on the amount of frozen peas and carrots and added in some frozen corn.  I wish I had also increased the amount of chicken stock because by the time the cobbler stopped cooking, there was no "juju" left.  So while the filling was flavorful, it was a little dry.  Actually, it was very dry, even with chicken thighs instead of breasts.  And the biscuit topping was a little thick and doughy, rather than buttery, light and flaky.  I think it is safe to say that if we make another chicken potpie, it won't be this one.  Moreover, I think we will use pre-packed puff pastry for the pot pie topping.  Because it turns out that I'm more of a pot pie person than a cobbler person.

Recipe after the jump!

Chicken and Vegetable Cobbler 
Adapted from NY Times
By Mark Bittman

3 tbsp evoo
1 leek, well washed and chopped
Salt and black pepper
2 cups quartered button mushrooms
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 sprig fresh rosemary
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 medium carrots, cut into coins
3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, diced
1/2 cup peas, frozen or fresh 
1/2 cup corn kernels, frozen or fresh
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 to 3 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into bits
1/2 cup buttermilk (see note)
1 egg

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Put oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, add the leek, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook until liquid has released and evaporated, about 8 to 10 minutes.  Add stock and rosemary; bring to a boil, and let bubble for a minute or two, then add carrots and chicken and reduce heat so the liquid simmers. Cook until carrots are almost tender and chicken is cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Add peas and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are brightly colored and just tender, another minute or so; fish out rosemary stem and discard.

Whisk cornstarch with a few tablespoons of broth to make a slurry. Add slurry to pot and stir until liquid thickens slightly. Transfer everything to an ovenproof dish and set aside. Put flour in a food processor with baking powder, soda and salt. Add butter and process until mixture resembles small peas, no more than 30 seconds. (You can also do this by hand, using two knives, a fork, your fingers, or a pastry cutter). Transfer mixture to a bowl and mix in buttermilk and egg until it just comes together; it should be sticky.

Drop spoonfuls of batter on top of vegetables and chicken and smooth with a knife, covering as much surface area as possible but leaving a few gaps for steam to escape. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until golden on top and bubbly underneath. Scoop into bowls and serve immediately.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

Note: If you don’t have buttermilk, gently warm milk until it’s about 100 degrees; stir in a couple of teaspoons of vinegar and let sit for 5 minutes.

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