While the Missouri summer has been incredibly good to us, it has still be much too hot to turn on the over in this old farmhouse. No matter how hard you try, you can just never get all the heat out of the house.
Problem is, I’m craving some of my favorite comfort foods, like lasagna and pot pie. Instead of trying to find something that wasn’t quite what I wanted at a restaurant, I decided to pull out the family-sized crock pot and make it myself.
Since I had a chicken I needed to thaw and use, I decided to go for the pot pie.
I’m a throw-it-together gal, so these measurements likely won’t be exact. However, this recipe is very easy to adapt and make smaller or larger, depending on the heads at your table. There are three people in this household and two don’t eat leftovers, so I try to make everything fit one meal.
1 Whole Chicken, cooked
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 red onion (medium sized), chopped
1 batch (about 1/2 lb) green beans, stemmed, snapped into small pieces
2 small or 1 medium tomato, chopped
1 medium potato, chopped (substitute 1 cup of barely, cooked, and add just before putting in biscuit mix)
1 big carrot (from farmer’s market or garden), chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped (I didn’t have them this time around, but still good)
2 garlic cloves, whole or chopped
1/2 cup milk
1 T cornstarch
1 recipe drop biscuits or 1 box Jiffy biscuit mix, made, but not baked, or 1 tube of refrigerated biscuits
Yesterday, I put the chicken in the crock pot and covered it up to the middle with water. I added fresh thyme, rosemary, sage and some wild onions from the garden. Also, doused it with olive oil I left it in there for about six hours – until the meat crumbled. I left the skin on, but you can take it off if you are diet-conscious. Personally, I find the fat adds a bit of flavor to the mix.
I hate bones and stuff in my stews (though my father farmer doesn’t seem to mind them YUCK) I used two large spoons to pick the chicken out of the crock pot. It broke in three pieces, but were easily managed. I skimmed the remaining liquid for any bones or ugliness and left it sit to cool in the crock pot. Once the chicken was cool, I pulled off all the meat.
This morning, I chopped the potato and carrot and sauteed them a bit in olive oil and spices. After they cooked for about five minutes, I added onion and a little tomato – but not all of it. It would amount to a few slices. Then, I added the green beans and zucchini. Much to my dismay, I forgot the garlic, but added it later to the crock pot mix. (Side note: I used a giant garden carrot, which tastes nothing like what you get in the store. If you can, grab a batch at your local farmer’s market for a fresher taste.)
After about 10 minutes, I put the mixture into the crock pot, along with the rest of the tomato. I added some of the cold chicken and all of the chicken broth from yesterday. I let it cook on high for about three hours. Just do it until the potatoes are done through. (You can use all of the chicken if you like. I have cats who are ready to claw my eyes out if they don’t get a chicken treat, so I keep a little extra handy to keep them out of my hair.)
Next, you mix together the milk and cornstarch and pour it into the chicken mixture. If you don’t have cornstarch, use flour. (I usually have to double the flour to cornstarch ratio to get it to work out.)
Next come the biscuits.
Either make up your homemade biscuit recipe, or cheat like I did and use a Jiffy buttermilk biscuit mix. Role the biscuits into tiny balls and drop them into the chicken mixture. You can also use a can of premade biscuits, but if you do you MUST cut each biscuit into halves or fours, otherwise they won’t cook through. (Trust me on this one. I had a doughy mess one day with some wheat prepackaged biscuits. It was a nightmare.)
If you want biscuits crispy on the top, vent your crock pot about 1/2 inch. If you want them to be more like dumplings, then keep the lid shut tight.
The biscuits are done when they are brown on the top – about 20 minutes, depending on your crock pot settings.
You can also use frozen veggie packets, or add peas or other items. You can also use precooked chicken, or just get chicken breasts and cook them to use. I live with my folks in a rural area and can get farm fresh chickens, so I always go that route. Most of the veggies here came from my folk’s garden. Use whatever S&P or spices you like. This recipe is so easy, you can easily make it for more people. It also freezes well.
Everything cooks slowly and blends beautifully in the crock pot.
Plus, you can get a lot of work done while your dinner is cooking. That is a HUGE perk for me. I may be single and no kiddos, but some days I want something homemade, but just don’t have the time. I’m to the point where prepackages meals just don’t taste right to me. The crock pot lets me still have something I make myself without all the kitchen time – and heating up the house with the oven when it is 100 heat index.
Try the recipe, make your own adjustments and let me know how it turns out! If anything doesn’t make sense, just leave a comment and I am happy to clarify. Cooking is almost subconscious for me anymore and I just throw it all together. It’s tough to remember everything later on. =0)0