If you're sick, sad, or have a case of the Mondays, this is possibly the world's most perfect comfort food. It's warm, soothing, and carb-y and made all in one pot so there's no trashing your kitchen. 'Cause if you are sad or sick or grumpy, lots of dirty dishes can make you sadder or sicker or grumpier (that's a well-known scientific fact). The recipe is also infinitely variable so you can use it to clean out your crisper/cold cellar.
Traditionally, you would probably include celery, but my sons don't like celery so I left it out. But you can pretty much use whatever vegetables you have lying about—broccoli stems, chard, regular potatoes. If you want to make it vegetarian, you can just throw in some beans and use vegetable broth. And whatever biscuit recipe makes you happy should work just fine—just cook it per the recipe's directions. For this version, I used the Cooks' Illustrated Science of Cooking drop biscuit recipe because it takes one bowl and they come out so fluffy and buttery you'll instantly get over whatever head-cold you have.
Note 1: if you make the chicken soup/stew ahead of time, please make sure it is hot when you go to cook the biscuits. I know that sounds fairly self-evident, but speaking from sad, sad experience, you will end up with burned biscuit tops and doughy biscuit bottoms.... it defeats the whole purpose of trying to cook something to make you feel better.
Note 2: There is no shame in eating the bottom off of all the biscuits - because that's the best part. They cook in delicious broth and get dumpling-esque (totally made that word up) on the bottom while still retaining the biscuit structure on top. This will make you feel better, no matter what the problem. So snitch away! —Niknud
Test Kitchen Notes
When I cook for myself, it is ninety-five percent vegetarian (I had to Google how to poach chicken), so I picked this dish to please my meat-loving husband. The dish turned out to be perfect for the beginning of fall, rich from the chicken and gravy and just fragrant enough, thanks to the wine and fresh herbs. I will make this again, but hope you won’t fault me if I cheat and use rotisserie chicken! —CarbsForever
4 to 6
For the chicken and biscuits:
fat (bacon fat, olive oil, butter, or schmaltz)
carrots, peeled and chopped
sweet potato, peeled and chopped
large onion, chopped
Splash of white wine
heated chicken broth (the poaching liquid works fine here, too)
poached chicken, chopped or shredded (I won't tell if you use rotisserie)
fresh chopped rosemary
dried red pepper flakes
Fresh ground salt and pepper
Melted butter, to top
For the drop biscuit dough:
butter, melted then cooled, plus 2 additional tablespoons for brushing on top
In a heavy-bottomed, oven safe pan (high sided sauté pan or Dutch oven), melt the fat over medium heat. In it, sauté the carrots, sweet potato, and onion until just tender. Remove the vegetables and return the pan to the heat.
Melt butter over the heat and then add the flour, whisking constantly until the flour darkens and takes on a nutty smell. Add a splash of white wine and whisk until most of the additional liquid has been absorbed. Then, one ladle at a time, add the warmed chicken broth and whisk until thickened. You should end up with roughly 2 cups of gravy. You can make it thicker or thinner as you prefer, but you want enough liquid to allow the biscuits to absorb some of the delicious chicken goo (technical term) as they cook.
Add in the chicken, cooked vegetables, herbs, and spices and stir to combine. Adjust salt and pepper as needed. Allow the filling to cook on low heat for a while to get the flavors all cozy together, about 20 minutes (or the amount of time it takes to make and drink a hot toddy) but let your conscience be your guide here. Add more broth if it starts to get too thick. If you're making this ahead you can stop here and store or freeze.
Preheat the oven to 450° F. Drop the biscuit dough on top of the filling in 1/4 cup scoops. Feel free to fill in the cracks with the scraps—this is comfort food, so looks are secondary. Use up all of that biscuit-y goodness!
Cook for about 14 to 17 minutes or until the tops get all golden. Remove and brush the top of the biscuits with some melted butter. Let cool for a few minutes before serving. And, if I may be so bold as to suggest, leave a pot holder or towel over the scorching hot handle so that you don't burn yourself when you return to serve. I only mention it because I burned the tar out of my hand approximately two dozen times before I finally learned to leave something over the handle as a sort of red flag.
For the drop biscuit dough:
In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add the butter to the buttermilk and combine until it turns clumpy. Using a spatula, combine the wet and dry ingredients only until they just comes together, handling as little as possible.
Full-time working wife and mother of two small boys whose obsessive need to cook delicious food is threatening to take over what little free time I have. I grew up in a family of serious cookers but didn't learn to cook myself until I got married and got out of the military and discovered the joys of micro-graters, ethiopian food, immersion blenders and watching my husband roll around on the floor after four servings of pulled pork tamales (with real lard!) complaining that he's so full he can't feel his legs. Trying to graduate from novice cooker to ranked amateur. The days of 'the biscuit incident of aught five' as my husband refers to it are long past but I still haven't tried my hand at paella so I'm a work in progress!