This recipe for chicken potpie is an adaptation of a recipe published in American Classics by the editors of Cooks Illustrated (Boston Common Press 2002). I used a biscuit topping (specifically, Bisquick) as a shortcut, but frozen puff pastry or a traditional piecrust work, too.
Makes 6 servings
1 medium onion
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts and thighs
2 cups chicken broth or stock
8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
6 tablespoons butter, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut crosswise 1/4-inch thick
2 small stalks celery, cut crosswise 1/4-inch thick
3/4 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup flour
1 1/4 cups milk
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup dry sherry or vermouth
1 biscuit recipe (follow recipe for drop biscuits on the Bisquick box)
Heat oven to 400 degrees and place rack in lower-middle position.
Cut off top 1/4 inch of onion. Cut onion, top to bottom, into sixths. Trim off root ends, then cut wedges in half, crosswise. You will have an assortment of pieces, but on average, they will be about the same size as the carrots and mushrooms.
Put chicken and chicken broth in a saute pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer — do not boil, which toughens the meat. Cover and simmer gently for 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer chicken to a large bowl, strain and reserve broth.
Cool chicken until it can be handled, then cut into small (about 1/2-inch) pieces. Return to bowl.
Clean the pan with a paper towel. Return to medium-high heat, add mushrooms and sprinkle generously with salt. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning, until mushrooms have given up most of their liquid and begin to brown. Add thyme and 1 tablespoon butter and cook another 5 minutes until browned. Add mushrooms to chicken in bowl.
Add oil to pan along with the carrots, onions and celery. Stir to coat with oil, and cook until carrots are just tender (about 10 minutes), stirring occasionally. Add vegetables to bowl with chicken. Add still-frozen peas to bowl and stir to mix ingredients thoroughly.
Add remaining butter to the pot over medium-low heat and melt. Add flour and whisk to blend. Cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes. Whisk in 2 cups chicken stock, milk, salt and pepper. Increase heat to medium and cook until thick. (Note: The sauce will be quite thick. The juices released from the meat and vegetables during cooking will thin it to the correct consistency.) Taste and adjust seasoning, then stir in sherry.
Stir sauce into bowl with chicken and vegetables, mixing thoroughly. Pour into an 8-by-12-inch casserole dish.
Make the biscuit topping and drop by spoonfuls onto pie filling.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until topping is brown and filling is bubbly.