This recipe was sent to my inbox from All Recipes Daily Dish. I decided to make it for my husband’s birthday dinner last week because he LOVES meat and potatoes, or what he calls “normal” dishes. Which is too bad for me because: a) I’m still learning how to cook.
b) I prefer to try recipes that are different and call for unusual ingredients. Like fish sauce, for example.
But I have to say, this chicken and biscuits dish is AWESOME! Chef John describes it as chicken and biscuits meets chicken pot pie meets chicken and dumplings all in one pot. It’s not only delicious comfort food perfect for a winter evening but it calls for some good smelling herbs which always makes cooking more enjoyable. And it is time consuming and somewhat laborious, so if you want extra points for effort, look no further. But don’t let that scare you. It’s well worth it and if I can do it, so can you. My experience did have some bumpy moments, but hopefully you can learn from my mistakes and make your dumpling/biscuit/pot pie without breaking a sweat.
I’ve linked the recipe here Chef John's Chicken and Biscuits Recipe – Allrecipes.com. The page includes a video of Chef John himself preparing the dish and I HIGHLY RECOMMEND WATCHING THE VIDEO FIRST. Which I did not do. And wished I had. Chef John will answer some of those questions you would otherwise be asking to the silent kitchen gods, such as, “how do you properly rinse a chicken?” Or, “Wait, is the chicken supposed to be fully submerged in the water?” The video will also give you a good idea of how to synchronize all of the steps, how long each step will take, and how in the hell to get a whole, five pound chicken out of a simmering pot.
A word about the herbs. The recipe calls for, among others, herbs de provence, fresh rosemary and fresh tarragon. I LOVE fresh herbs but they are expensive and I never use the whole bunch and end up throwing a good bit away (after putting them in the fridge and saying I will use them within the week). Before I got married I would always buy the fresh herbs, no matter. The husband however, sternly disapproves of this practice (especially the wasted herbs = wasted money part) and since this dinner was being prepared especially for HIM, I used dried instead. And I have to say, (remember I’m a fresh herb lover) that I don’t think it made ANY difference whatsoever. So go out and buy whatever dried herbs your pantry may be lacking and then you will have them on hand and it will be one less item on the grocery list next time!
I did do a quick Martha Stewart search on google and she says that you need a third LESS dried herbs than fresh. She also, fortunately for us math challenged people, specified with examples: if a recipe calls for one tablespoon of fresh, use one teaspoon of dried, since three teaspoons equal one tablespoon.
Now, I’ve been told that I’m too rigid when it comes to making EXACT measurements when cooking, and that I stress out too much if unable to follow the directions EXACTLY. So THIS time, when faced with the unexpected obstacle of no cayenne pepper to be found, I decided to be calm and wing it. I said to myself (after repeatedly exclaiming I could have SWORN we had cayenne pepper!) well…..cayenne pepper is hot so…what else is hot? Chili powder? Ok, chili powder it is.
This was almost a disaster and my undoing. I added the chili powder to the celery, carrots and mushrooms, along with the paprika, salt and pepper. While stirring the simmering pot, I began to smell…chili. And the vegetables began to look…brown. And I began to have an inner freak out, thinking that I had ruined the dinner…but I had to squelch those thoughts with all my might because right at that moment (of course) my husband came in, hovered his nose over the pot and told me I needed to add some water or SOMETHING because it was all about to get dried out to nothing. So I told him to go sit in the living room. Just. Go. Sit in the living room. And then I remembered that I was supposed to add the chicken stock, which certainly did help. Yay! And, ok deep breath. But the chili smell…. and I like chili… just smelled…wrong. Bad wrong. So I poured a glass of wine. And told myself there was nothing I could do now but keep going. Thank God for Herbs de Provence. Really, it’s aromatherapy in a jar. That and the dried rosemary and tarragon helped create a feeling that perhaps it might be ok, after all. And the biscuits! Those Pillsbury Pop and Fresh biscuits placed gently on top of the bubbling chicken and seasoned vegetables – glorious!
My husband said it was the best dinner I’d made yet! It was delicious, with a certain, je ne sais quois of spicy flavor and comfort. All’s well that ends well. And I can’t wait to make this again, now that I know what I’m doing!