I was at a retreat this weekend and someone brought along a pack of mini cereals (Froot Loops, Frosted Flakes, etc.). The sight of those little rectangular boxes triggered memories for LOTS of folks. As I listened to them laugh about how they only got those cereals on vacation, I started thinking about my own food memories.
One of my earliest is of chicken pot pie, the kind that came in a little box. Never mind that the crust was as tough as the box surrounding it. I loved the creamy white sauce and the way the steam poured out when I first poked my fork through. I was probably seven, too young to notice the rubbery carrots or the extreme saltiness.
Now I make my own chicken pot pie with homemade stock, a whole wheat crust and freshly cooked organic vegetables. But when I have less time, I make Tarragon Chicken with Biscuits. The filling is the same, but instead of baking it in a pie crust I spoon it over a biscuit. By skipping the crust, I cut out at least 45 minutes of crust-making and baking time. Leftover biscuits can be used for dessert, drizzled with honey.
Chicken with Biscuits can be made quickly with canned broth and rotisserie chicken, but it tastes much better — and is much better for you — if you plan ahead. Buy a whole chicken or a mixture of bone-in chicken breasts, drumsticks and thighs and make your own stock. (If you need a recipe, click here and follow the first half.) Shred the chicken and save it until you’re ready to make dinner. If you don’t need it that day or the next, you can also wrap the chicken tightly in plastic bags and freeze it for up to a few months.
And who knows, if you let your kids help peel the carrots, smell the tarragon and knead the biscuits, you might even be creating a food memory they’ll recall fondly years from now.
Tarragon Chicken with Biscuits
Like many recipes on my blog, this recipe isn’t as precise as what you’d find in a cookbook. That’s to encourage you to use what you like and what you have on hand, and also to let you follow your own palate.
10-12 ounces of vegetables, such as 2 carrots, a potato, and a handful of broccoli florets, washed and chopped into bite-sized pieces
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup white flour
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon, or more
Pepper to taste
1 3/4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
2/3 cup whole milk (pour it short and add a few tablespoons of heavy cream for extra deliciousness)
2-3 cups shredded chicken
Boil a pot of water and add vegetables in order of cooking time, potatoes first, carrots soon after, and broccoli with just a few minutes to go. When done, drain and set aside. Melt butter in a large saute pan and add flour, onion, salt and pepper. Stir rapidly until the sauce bubbles, and don’t worry about the lumps. Turn off the heat and add the chicken stock and milk, whisking well until lumps disappear. Turn the heat back on and cook, stirring, until sauce comes to a boil. When bubbles first appear, set the timer for one minute and cook, stirring constantly. The sauce should now be thick.
Remove from heat and taste, adding more tarragon, salt or pepper as necessary. Stir in most of the vegetables and 2 cups of chicken, then see if you want more vegetables or more chicken and adjust accordingly. Tip for Moms: Make the filling up to this point during naptime or when your kids are at school, then reheat it and make the biscuits at dinner.
*Speaking of biscuits, you can make your own with this recipe for Buttermilk Biscuits. If you don’t have buttermilk or want a faster version, use Bisquick.