And now for the second chapter of our little tale…
So it came to pass that the little chicken grew up to become a fabulous roasted chicken with lovely moist meat and savory pan juices. The home cook and her husband were very satisfied at dinner that night, and the little chicken was very…well…appreciated.
But this was just the beginning of the tale for this happy little chicken, oh yes! For you see, he had some special secrets he’d shared with the home cook, secrets that would honor a fine chicken and feed a family of two or more for several days. He foretold of many ways the home cook could enjoy him beyond an initial roasting, as well as have fun making new dishes in her kitchen.
“After you feast the first night, you must strip me of all my tasty meat and don’t be shy. Waste not a morsel,” the chicken had whispered to her. “Save the meat for the next dish and use what’s left of me along with my pan juices to make a stock…a very rich and tasty roasted chicken stock.”
So the day after roasting, the home cook scoured her refrigerator for savory items to make a fine stock. There were celery and carrots, onions and herbs, garlic, a bay leaf, pepper and salt, and those amazing pan juices, stripped of their fat. She bundled all of this into a big stock pot and simmered it for 2 hours, straining the solids and ending up with lots of great stock for future dishes.
“When you’ve finished your stock, you’ll use it to make the next two dinners,” the chicken had said, “and there will even be some left for soup or other dishes down the road…you’ll see.” The home cook was still flabbergasted at the thought of this one little chicken stretching so far, but she believed in the chicken and his promises, so she carried on to the next dinner’s recipe feeling empowered to boldly go down the road the chicken had paved.
That very night, with trusty Shun knife in hand, she proceeded to the kitchen to begin making her next dish…a gift from the Little Chicken that Could. What was it? Why, it was Individual Chicken Pot Pies with Lemon-Thyme Sweet Potato Biscuit crusts, but of course!
Now below you shall find 3 recipes. For us, this resulted in more dinners than the little chicken promised, not to mention chapter 3 which is a different dish entirely to come. So try out these recipes and then stay tuned for the last part of: The Tale of the Little Chicken that Could!
Note: These recipes came about from adapting several recipes, thoughts, ingredients and ideas inspired by Emeril Lagasse and Cooking Light. Though there are a few stages and quite a few ingredients, this isn’t difficult and is worth any trouble, trust me!
First make the chicken stock, perhaps the day before:
Place one roasted chicken carcass, stripped of skin and meat, into a large stock pot. Throw in 4 carrots that have been peeled and cut into large chunks, 4 stalks of celery with leaves cut into large chunks, one onion peeled and quartered, 2 cloves of peeled garlic, a bay leaf, 4 springs of fresh thyme and parsley, one teaspoon of whole black peppercorns, and a teaspoon of kosher salt, and the reserved chicken pan juices with the fat skimmed off.
Cover everything in the pot completely with cold water, bring the contents to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and allow the stock to simmer for about 2 hours. Remove from the heat, and strain the solids though a fine meshed sieve, then discard the solids. Allow the stock to cool, skim the fat and store in the fridge or freeze until ready to use.
Individual Chicken Pot Pies with Lemon-Thyme Sweet Potato Biscuit
Makes 6 hearty servings
For the pot pie filling:
3 small Yukon gold potatoes, cut into about a 1/2″ dice, and par-cooked in boiling water for about 5 minutes, then drained
5 Tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
2 stalks of celery, sliced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
8 oz. button mushrooms, halved, then quartered
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 Tablespoons flour
3 cups of the roasted chicken stock
1/4 cup half and half
1/4 cup 1% milk
leftover shredded roasted chicken, about 2 1/2 cups
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 Tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped thyme leaves
For the Lemon-thyme sweet potato biscuit topping:
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
1 medium sweet potato, wrapped in foil, baked at 400 degrees about 20-35 minutes until tender, then mashed well and cooled
1/4 scant cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped thyme leaves
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly oil 6 ramekins. First make the filling. Heat the 5 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, celery and carrot and saute for about 4-5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, garlic, a little pinch of salt and cook, stirring frequently for 5 minutes. Stir in the 5 tablespoons of flour and stir continuously for about 4 minutes to cook the flour and make a light roux. Add the chicken stock, stirring, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook another 5 minutes or until the sauce begins to thicken, stirring occasionally. Stir in the milk and the half and half, then simmer another 4 minutes. Add the potatoes, the chicken, cayenne, salt, pepper, parsley and thyme. Stir well to combine. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed. Divide the filing evenly amongst the 6 prepared ramekins.
Make the biscuit dough by combining the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces and then cut it into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or two knives, until the mixture resembles coarse meal. In another bowl, combine the sweet potato, the buttermilk, the lemon zest and the thyme. Pour the wet mixture into the flour mixture, stirring until all ingredients are just moistened. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly, just until the dough has come together into a ball, don’t over knead. Roll the dough out into about a 1/2 inch thickness. Cut out 6 biscuits with a 2 1/2 inch round cutter, reassembling the scraps and rolling again to make the last biscuit…this will use up all the dough. Place one biscuit on top of each filled ramekin.
Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Place the ramekins on the foil, evenly spaced, and place the pan with ramekins into the oven. Cook the pies in a 400 degree oven for about 25 minutes, or until the chicken filling is simmering and the biscuits are cooked through and golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for about 5 minutes before serving. Decorate with a bit of chopped fresh parsley if desired. This makes six servings, and leftovers will keep well for a day in the fridge and can be reheated in the microwave.