This is a new, somewhat healthier spin on a classic comfort food that we just made for the first time this week, and it is delicious! It’s from one of my favorite cookbooks, Almost Meatless: Recipes that are Better for your Health & the Planet, which is focused on finding ways to have a lower-meat diet. So while there’s certainly chicken in this it’s not as much as you would find in your traditional Chicken Pot Pie. And instead of using a super buttery crust there’s a whole wheat biscuit topping that is just fabulous…especially with the scallions mixed in. This dish is almost a hybrid between chicken pot pie and chicken and dumplings, and for a potato-hater like Christian the swap of potatoes for parsnips is perfect. Classic comfort with a bit less guilt…just how I like it!
The recipe below makes enough for 6-8 servings…I tend to cook it right in the dutch oven that the stew is made in for easier clean-up, but if you were having a dinner party or wanted to portion the meal out for the week the single serving approach is nice as well. The only changes I make to the recipe is to increase the quantity of vegetables a bit (although a lot of parsnips will make it kind of sweet, which means you’ll need more salt to counteract) and ensure that the texture of the sauce is about right before adding the biscuit topping. Typically this means sprinkling a few extra handfuls of flour into the sauce and letting it thicken and then adding the biscuit topping. Mushrooms might be a nice addition as well. So no major changes, just a few tweaks.
2 bone-in, skin-on chicken legs, with thighs and drumsticks separated (about 2 pounds total)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pounds leeks (about 3 very large), white and light green parts only, cut in half lengthwise and then crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
1/4 cup whole milk
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 sprig rosemary
4 cloves garlic, halved, peeled and smashed
1 cup 1/2-inch carrot chunks (about 2 small carrots)
1 cup diced parsnips (about 2 medium parsnips)
1 cup diced fennel (about 1/2 small bulb)
4 ounces green beans, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces (1 cup)
3 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon leaves (optional)
1-1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup wheat bran
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely sliced fresh chives or minced scallions
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1. To make the stew, rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Season both sides of the pieces with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, skin side down, and cook for about 5 minutes, until nicely browned. Flip the pieces over and brown the other side, for an additional 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
2. Add the leeks and sauté in the chicken fat for about 7 minutes, until softened. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the wine, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in the stock, milk, thyme, bay leaves, rosemary and garlic. Return the chicken to the pot, adding any reserved juices. Cover and simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked and just starting to fall off the bone.
3. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and remove the skin. Discard the bay leaves, rosemary and thyme sprigs. Add the carrots, parsnips, fennel and green beans to the pot. Add the tarragon if you wish. Return the stew to a simmer and season with salt and pepper to taste. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred the meat from the bones and add the meat back to the stew. Discard the bones.
4. To make the biscuit topping, preheat the oven to 425°F. Whisk together the flour, bran, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pepper and chives in a bowl. Gently work the cold butter into the dry ingredients, rubbing it together as if you were snapping your fingers. Take care not to overwork the mixture or melt the butter with the warmth of your hands. Once all the butter has been incorporated, add the yogurt and stir just enough to bring the mixture together, forming a damp dough.
5. Leave the chicken mixture in the Dutch oven. Drop the biscuit dough across the surface of the stew, transfer to the oven, and bake for 20 minutes, or until the dough is just golden on top. Serve directly from the pot. (Alternatively, ladle the chicken mixture equally into six heatproof bowls. Drop the biscuit dough by the tablespoonful across the surface of the stew in each bowl.)