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Arts and Culture

Bread And Butter: Chicken Biscuit Stew

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I sat down fully intending to write about jelly beans. There is a lot to say about jelly beans, oddly, both good and bad. But instead, I find myself drawn to writing about chicken biscuit stew, which is not even close to the same thing as jelly beans. 

I’m finding myself drawn to comfort food. In a week’s time, goulash, stroganoff, and chicken biscuit stew all made an appearance on our menu. I’m trying to decide if this turn to the comfort in a bowl is a new spring thing or a pandemic anniversary thing or if I’m simply pouting about missing my second trip home to see my parents. Perhaps it’s a mixture of all three.

 

My mom made chicken biscuit stew often. Chicken pot pie filling with flaky biscuits on top instead of a pie crust? Yes, please. It was always a favorite, but as a child, it looked complicated and daunting. That led to many years of me never even attempting to make it, even when I mastered homemade chicken pot pie and chicken pot pie soup. On the occasion my sister made it and shared, I was always thrilled, but it’s been many years since I have tasted it. 

 

This past Sunday, we had scheduled chicken pot pie for dinner. Sunday rolled around and I started to melt a bit of butter to cook the onions and garlic. I didn’t want to roll out pie dough, though, and really wanted chicken biscuit stew instead. I pulled out my mom’s recipe and realized that a dinner pivot was completely doable and the recipe didn’t seem as complicated as I had built up and imagined all of these years.

 

After the onions and garlic cooked into my butter, I added the veggies. Corn, carrots, green beans all frozen at their peak last summer. Most recipes call for peas, but we use what we have in the freezer whenever mixed veggies are called for. After those were added, I put in a bit of flour and chicken broth to thicken the mixture. My mom’s recipe called for milk, but I’ve been enjoying substituting heavy cream in every recipe that I can get away with and this was no exception. The heavy cream made a dense gravy enclosing all of my veggies and the pot of delicious hung out while my chicken finished cooking in my pressure cooker.

 

While I was busy at the stove, my husband mixed up some drop biscuits using Greek yogurt and the rest of the heavy cream. I was grateful as I can’t make biscuits. However, I might try next time just to make sure that is still the case. It has been a minute since I’ve tried, even if the memory of turning out stone discs is ever prevalent in my mind. He finished up the biscuits just as I was finishing up cutting the chicken. A hearty mix to distribute the chicken chunks and a little more salt and the biscuit dough was dropped on top of the mixture, right in our dutch oven pot. Twenty-two minutes later in a 375-degre oven and we had ourselves the most delicious pot of chicken biscuit stew I’ve ever tasted, no offense to my mom.

 

My favorite part of this meal is the underside of the biscuit. That part, when you lift the biscuit up, that has all the veggies and meat and cream clinging to it, embedded into it, really. There is nothing as good. Except, this time, the biscuits, homemade instead of using store-bought from a pop tube as most recipes call for, were a delicate golden brown on top and perfectly fluffy inside. While eating, I made a mental note to put biscuits and gravy on the menu, soon, using these exact biscuits. I need them in my life again, soon.

 

I’m not a big casserole lover. In fact, I often pride myself on never making casseroles. But, I’m now wondering if this one-dish meal really is a casserole and I’ve simply been wrongly judgmental. I want to say no, simply because the image of casseroles in my head leads me to shudder involuntarily, but if we’re going with the traditional definition (one that is simply a meal that is cooked all in one dish), chicken biscuit stew is absolutely a casserole. But if we go by the name, it’s a hearty stew with baked biscuits on top for convenience. Maybe it’s simply a hybrid of the two.

 

Casserole, stew, or hybrid, what I do know is it absolutely satisfied a craving I only tangentially knew I had. And it definitely provided the comfort I needed in this no man’s land of spring we find ourselves in.