Burwell General Store’s “Chicken Sink” Pot Pie with Light-Roux Gravy and Herbed Drop Biscuits

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This recipe comes to us from Christianna Reinhardt, who curates her blog The Burwell General Store: Rustic Recipes for Elegant Food.

“Well, I guess you can take the girl out of the Plains, but you can’t take the Plains out of the girl.” It’s a reused saying, but that’s what the county sherriff said to me when I returned to my tiny hometown of Burwell, Nebraska, after a 20-year absence to start work on my place there, the town’s old Carnegie library-turned-my-summer-retreat. When I’m homesick for the place, I turn to my kitchen in Santa Monica, making practical, steadfast and filling comfort food, using a lot of leftovers, and cooking by taste and adjustments. This one-pot pie comes from the simplicity of using staple ingredients like flour and butter and using odd measures of frozen vegetables that in Burwell are usually put up in deep freezers from someone’s garden to last through the off season. The Great Plains were settled on the principles of utility; use what you have, waste nothing, share with others. I developed this recipe to honor that sentiment; it is my slice of Plains heritage in the city.

Keep reading for the recipe…

“Chicken Sink” Pot Pie with Light-Roux Gravy and Herbed Drop Biscuits

Serves: 4

Equipment: 9″ cast-iron skillet, balloon whisk, spatula

Active time: About an hour.
Total time: An hour and a half.

1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup onion
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 1/2 cup cooked cubed potatoes (I used Weiser Farms Russian banana fingerlings)
1 large link pork sausage, removed from casing and crumbled
2 chicken quarters, about three cups dark meat
2 Tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup chicken stock or water

2 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup milk
1 cup chicken stock, plus ½ cup to thin if necessary

Drop Biscuits:
2 cups all-purpose flour, unsifted (I used King Arthur Organic Unbleached AP)
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp Baking powder
1 Tbsp rosemary leaves, chopped
1 tsp salt
cracked black pepper to taste
4 Tbsp cold cubed butter
1 cup milk

Prep dries for the biscuits in a bowl and cube butter (leaving in refrigerator) before you start work on the pot pie, and set aside.

Pre-heat oven to 375F.
In a skillet on medium heat, cook filling ingredients for the pot pie starting with what cooks the longest. My order was potatoes, onions, sausage, frozen vegetables, garlic. Remove from skillet to a medium bowl, add chopped parsley, and set aside.
In the same skillet, saute chicken quarters on medium heat until cooked through, about 15 minutes, and set aside to cool. Shred when cool to touch and place in the bowl with the vegetables.
Using 1/4 cup chicken stock or water, pour into skillet and deglaze the pan. Let the remaining liquid reduce almost entirely and leave in the skillet.

Keeping all the deglazed brown bits in the pan, reduce heat to medium-low and add 2 Tbsp butter for the roux. When butter has started foaming, add flour. The mixture will seize, but keep it moving with a whisk or spatula until it is golden brown and smells toasted, about ten minutes. When you have reached this point, pour in the milk. Mixture will quickly separate, then seize, then double in volume. Continue to thin with chicken stock until it is the consistency of a lovely thick gravy. You should have a cup to a cup and a half of gravy. Salt and pepper to taste. Add your vegetables and shredded chicken back to this mixture, remove from heat and quickly make biscuits, because reacting baking powder waits for no one.

Add all dries and rosemary to a medium bowl.
Add cubed butter, and working quickly by hand, squish the butter into the flour until you have reached a fine sand texture.
Make a well, add milk, and mix quickly with a spatula until thoroughly combined but not overworked. This dough will be very sticky and soft. Drop in large dollops across the skillet (about 9 spatula-fulls) and put skillet into oven to bake for 15 minutes at 375 or until the biscuits are nice and browned and you see the roux bubbling up between the biscuits.

Notes: As long as you have five cups of filling and a cup of gravy, this dish will turn out, which is why I love it. Oh, and by “Light-Roux” I mean light in color, not in calories, if you haven’t figured that out by now. Enjoy!