It’s cold outside. Really really cold.
On Tuesday the temperature was -26 with wind chill, and you know what? It hasn’t gotten much warmer since then. In fact, when I saw that the temperature was only going to be -20 with wind chill today, I was actually happy about it! Do you see the problem here? It is -20 and I’m happy that it’s gotten warmer than it was a couple days ago.
Neither Julie or myself have been running outside since Sunday. There are very few things that will make either of us voluntarily go inside for a run, but bone-chilling temperatures are one of them.
On Tuesday night while I was waiting for the bus my toes got so cold they turned white. You can be sure that I have been wearing double-socks every time I step outdoors since then!
So what does all this mean (besides a somewhat cranky Brittany)?
2 words, people: Comfort. Food.
Chicken pot pie falls perfectly into that category for me. It has been one of my favourite meals ever since I was a little kid. I think I even remember my brother and I making up a song about chicken pot pie one night- yep, we were cool kids 😉
Of course, traditional chicken pot pie is made with a pie crust, but to be honest, I’ve never been a huge fan of pie crusts. Don’t get me wrong, pastry has it’s place (especially when my Grandma makes it, of course :)) but in my opinion, chicken pot pie is much better topped with a tender, fluffy biscuit! Which is precisely what was done here 🙂
But the break from tradition doesn’t stop there! You see, we had this bulb of fennel leftover from our herb-crusted salmon salad the other day, and couldn’t figure out what we wanted to do with it (besides make another salad, of course), so I did a little research. Turns out, a popular thing to do with fennel is to pair it with apple. Long story short, we made an apple and fennel chicken pot pie. Boo-yah!
The great thing about this meal is that you can make the filling in advance, and store it in your fridge for a few days until you’re ready to throw it in the oven. The biscuit topping comes together in minutes, so it makes this a snap to prepare for a week-night meal. And while this recipe make 2 personal-sized servings, it could easily be doubled (or tripled!) and made in one big pot for the whole family- all you’d have to do is adjust the cooking time.
So even though this is not a “traditional” chicken pot pie, I’m pretty confident that 8-year-old Brittany would give it 2 thumbs up, and when I get home in the evening after spending half and hour standing in the freezing cold waiting for the bus, 20-year-old Brittany is equally as enthusiastic- enough to maybe even bring back the chicken pot pie song…
Apple and Fennel Biscuit-Topped Chicken Pot Pie
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 20-25 minutes
1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded
2 tsp olive oil
1/4 large onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 apple, diced
1 small fennel bulb, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp thyme
pinch of salt
2/3 c. milk of choice (unsweetened)
2/3 c. vegetable stock
1 tsp dijon mustard
For the Biscuit:
1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp thyme
1 tbsp + 2 tsp coconut oil NOT melted (or margarine)
2 tbsp vegetable stock
2 tbsp apple juice
Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are softened. Add the apple, fennel, and celery and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add the flour, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper and continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes. Slowly add the milk and vegetable stock, stirring as you pour it in. Stir in the dijon mustard. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer until the mixture is thickened slightly (this should only take 3-4 minutes). Remove from the heat and stir in the cooked and shredded chicken. At this point, you can place the entire mixture in a sealed container in the fridge if you plan on making the pies later.
When you’re ready to make the pies, divide the chicken mixture evenly between two large ramekins. Preheat the oven 400F (200C).
To make the biscuit topping, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and herbs. Using a pastry cutter or 2 butter knives, cut the coconut oil into the flour mixture until it resemble course crumbs. Slowly pour in the apple juice and vegetable stock, stirring as you pour, until the entire mixture is smooth and everything has been moistened. Divide the dough in half and spread each half over top of the chicken filling.
Place on a baking sheet (to catch any spillage) and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the biscuit is golden-brown on top.
What are your favourite winter comfort foods?