This is a delicious made-from-scratch stew that will satisfy any crowd, whether it be for a weekend sports event on the big screen or for a Sunday dinner.
It can be prepared a day or two ahead of time, without the biscuit topping. Prepare the biscuits in advance as well, but cover them with a tea towel and refrigerate. Take them out of the fridge while the stew is heating, then carry on from Step 10.
This recipe includes a basic French sauce – béchamel or white sauce. Don’t let the fancy name worry you! This is basically what most Americans know as “milk gravy.”
4 - 5poundschickenlegs, wings, back and breast detached
3cupschicken stockat room temperature
3medium potatoespeeled and cubed
4carrotspeeled and cubed
2parsnipspeeled and cubed
4golden beetspeeled and cubed
2medium onionspaper skin removed and cut into eights
1cuppeasfresh or frozen
1/2cupmushroomscut into quarters
4teaspoonsprigs fresh thymeleaves only or 1dried
2cupsall purpose flour
For the Complete Dish
Place the chicken in a large stockpot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Boil rapidly for 3 – 4 minutes, then drain and rinse the chicken and pot well to remove all scum.
Cover the chicken with water again and bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for a couple of hours until the meat is falling from the bones.
In another large pot, cook the potatoes, carrots, parsnips, beets and onions until just tender – don’t overcook, and reserve 1- 1 1/2 cups of the cooking liquid.
Prepare the biscuits. * See directions below.
Drain and allow the chicken to cool before handling. Remove all bones, skin and cartilage and cut chicken into bite size cubes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large casserole or Dutch oven, place chicken and cooked veggies, add the mushrooms, peas, parsley and thyme.
In a small saucepan, make a roux with the flour and butter. Melt the butter over low heat, and quickly stir in the flour until blended. Add the reserved vegetable liquid ¼ cup at a time, constantly stirring until you have a thick white sauce.
Add the white sauce to the stew ingredients, folding all together well. Mix in the chicken stock until you have the desired consistency for your stew.
Cook covered at 350 degrees F., for 20 - 25 minutes or until the stew is bubbling.
Remove from the oven, increase heat to 450 degrees F. and add a layer of biscuits on top.
Return to the oven uncovered and cook for 12 – 15 minutes or until the biscuits are golden brown on top.
For the Biscuits
In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, salt and baking powder.
Cut in the shortening with two knives or a pastry cutter until it’s the size of peas.
Quickly stir in just enough milk to make a dough that can be handled and rolled.
Turn dough onto a floured surface and roll to ½” thickness.
Cut out biscuits with a cookie cutter, or a small glass dipped in flour to prevent the dough from sticking.
Roll up scraps and form the last biscuit by hand.
Set aside until the stew is ready for the oven, then proceed from step 11 above.
If you have too many biscuits to fit on top of the stew, place them on a baking sheet and bake in a 450 degree F. oven for 12 – 15 minutes, or until golden brown on top.
*The cooking time doesn’t include the time to cook the chicken to remove it from the bones. Allow approximately 2 hours for that step.
Recently retired as a costume specialist in the TV and film industry, Lorna now enjoys blogging on contemporary lifestyle themes. A bit daft about the garden, she’s particularly obsessed with organic tomatoes and herbs, and delights in breaking bread with family and friends.