As you well know, baking terrifies me (and with Ross' birthday just around the corner and a chocolate cake looming on the horizon, I'm really feeling it).
But if the time is right and fate dictates that only baking will do, I'll always rise (ha!) to the occasion. And Friday night, just such a situation presented itself: my dear friend Emily had just returned from 5 amazing weeks in Europe, and was craving American food.
I admit that I was momentarily stumped. Not only is "American food" a rather vague cuisine, but my love of all things ethnic (and specifically, Italian and French food) actually makes it that much harder for me to master simple American meals.
Suddenly, in a burst of inspiration I can only trace to my southern roots, I decided that creamy chicken stew ladled over hot homemade biscuits (which I've wanted to try making for awhile) is about as Not European as it gets. I kept imagining Puritan settler wives standing over giant cauldrons stirring chicken stew for hours...not that I have any idea if this is historically accurate, mind you.
CREAMY CHICKEN STEW OVER BISCUITS
NOTE: I am the Fearless Cook, not the Fearless Baker, so I used this recipe for the biscuits.
(makes about 4 servings)
3 smallish boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped into small chunks
1/2 cup peas (use frozen...more on this later)
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 c. frozen corn kernels
2 T. butter
3 T. flour
1 and 1/2 c. chicken broth
1/2 c. half and half
2 cloves garlic, minced
several sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only
salt and pepper and red pepper flakes
basic salt-free all-purpose seasoning
Make the biscuits according to the recipe. They take about 15 minutes to bake. NOTE: I skipped the last part about rolling the dough out onto a floured surface and then cutting them with a cookie cutter - I have neither a rolling pin nor cookie cutters, so I just shaped them into roundish lumps and it worked out fine.
In a large pot, melt the butter. Add the garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Whisk in the flour to make a roux, and cook for about a minute. Whisk in the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Let it boil until the chicken broth is beginning to thicken. Reduce heat to medium low and stir in the half and half.
Add the rest of the ingredients. Cover. Cook on medium heat until the sauce is thickened, the chicken is cooked, and the veggies are tender. Taste and adjust seasoning if neccessary.
Cut a biscuit in half and place it in a shallow bowl. Ladle some stew over the top. Enjoy!
EMILY: The biscuits were amazing. And I think the stew was delicious. The only thing was, the peas were a little undercooked. And I love the carrots.
ME: Those were sweet potatoes.
EMILY: Really? Are you sure? Oh. Well I loved the sweet potatoes.
MY VOTE ON MY DISH: 6 stars.
I'd love to give myself more credit for attempting the biscuits, but I think I need more practice before I can really give Bojangles a run for its money. And the peas...the PEAS! What a disappointment. Something possessed me to get these fresh peas I saw at the market, and then of course I just shucked off the packaging and didn't read the cooking directions - they needed at least 30 minutes of cooking on their own before they'd be tender enough to put into the stew. They didn't taste bad per se, but the texture was unpleasant. Not a meal-ruiner, but not good either. Other than that I think it came out well. It was a nice consistency - not too thick, not too thin - and it was a nice, filling bed of goodness that helped us get through a night of good old fashioned American style dancing without any untoward incidences.
Welcome back, dearest Em, and thanks everyone for reading! More soon...