Secrets to a Truly Southern-Style Biscuit
This recipe is all about the buttery biscuit top! It is definitely a special occasion kind of dish as it’s got many steps to it. For the best quality biscuit, you may want to consider purchasing some White Lily flour, which is hard to find outside of the south, unless you go through Amazon.
Tools of the Trade
Here’s some equipment you will need for this recipe:
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- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (preferably free-range, certified humane)
- 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 2 heads of broccoli
- 2 carrots
- 2 zucchini
- 1 pound crimini or “baby bella” mushrooms
- 1 bag or box (10-12oz) of frozen peas
- 1 bag or box (10-12oz) of frozen pearl onions
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 tablespoons fennel seed
- 2 tablespoons dried tarragon
- 2 teaspoons thyme
- 1/4 cup sherry or madeira
- 2 Kosher salt, to taste
- 2 Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
- 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 pepper, to taste
- 2 zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons dried tarragon crushed/rubbed by hand to make smaller
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
- 2 cups cold buttermilk
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temp
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter to melt
- 2 Finishing salt (fleur de sel), or coarse sea salt
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 8 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 1/4 cup sherry or madeira
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Hot sauce
- 1 bag of fresh cranberries
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 Splash of brandy or cognac
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 orange
- 6 whole cloves
For the Filling
- Add the chicken to a saucepan that’s large enough to hold all four breasts in a single layer. Cover with the chicken stock and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover and reduce heat to low and continue cooking until just cooked through, about 20-25 minutes. Test for doneness by cutting into the chicken at about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prep your vegetables by cutting them into bite-sized pieces. Do not combine them all into the same bowl as they will have different cooking times. Begin with the broccoli, by removing the florets from the large stem, but do not discard. Cut the florets down, if needed, so they’re no more than about 1-inch each piece. With a vegetable peeler or pairing knife, remove the woody parts of the stem. You want to expose the light green, softer part. Then you can cut those down into small ¼-inch cubes.
- Peel the carrots and cut up into ¼-inch cubes. Cut the zucchini into ½-inch cubes. Slice the mushrooms about ¼-inch slices.
- When the chicken is cooked through, remove the breasts and place onto a sheet tray to cool, while you prepare the biscuit crust. Reserve the poaching liquid for the velouté.
For the Biscuit Dough
- On a flat surface, roll out a large piece of parchment paper, at least 16” long. Using a ruler and a dark marker, like a sharpie, measure out a 14” x 10” rectangle. You may want to use the edge of the parchment box as a guide for your ruler, to be sure it remains straight. Flip the paper so that your dough doesn’t wind up with marker in it. You should still be able to see the markings through the paper.
- In a large bowl, add the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt, pepper, lemon zest, and tarragon. Whisk mixture to combine and break up, instead of sifting. Pour into food processor
- Remove your butter from the refrigerator and using a sharp knife or bench scraper, cut the butter into small cubes and toss into the food processor immediately. You don’t want to handle it much as it will melt the butter and impact the flakiness of your pastry.
- Pulse the mixture to break up the butter and coat the flour. Watch as you’re pulsing to make sure that you wind up with coarse crumbs and no large chunks of butter.
- Dump into a large bowl and add the cold buttermilk starting with ½ cup and then adding the rest, as needed, ¼ cup at a time. Combine with your hands, or a spatula and stir to moisten all ingredients the dough should be soft and moist, just holding together. Don’t overmix or press it onto the sides of the bowl.
- Generously flour your marked parchment paper and roll your dough out on the center of the rectangle. Using your hands, pat the dough out to fill the rectangle, making sure that it’s evenly distributed throughout.
- Spread about half of the room temperature butter on top of the dough with a butter knife or spreader. Then you will fold the dough—using your bench scraper, if you have it, with the help of the parchment paper. You want to fold it as you would a letter, one third on top of the other. Take your new rectangle of dough, rotate it 90 degrees and repeat—patting the dough into the rectangle, covering with remaining room temperature butter and then folding the same way.
- Once more you will flatten the dough out to your rectangle. Cover it in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator while you finish preparing the filling.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- In a large sauté pan, heat about a tablespoon of olive oil over a medium-high heat and add broccoli and carrots when shimmering. Cook, for about 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, until they’re crisp tender. When done, they should go into a very large mixing bowl—the largest that you have, as this will be how you combine all ingredients for the filling.
- Meanwhile, in the same saucepan used for poaching, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and heat over medium. Add mushrooms, salt, fennel, tarragon, and thyme. Cooking down so that the mushrooms absorb those flavors. About 6-8 minutes.
- Add remaining olive oil to the sauté pan used for broccoli and carrots, and heat over medium. Add the zucchini and cook down so that liquid escapes the vegetables and evaporates. About 5 minutes.
- Remove the mushrooms from heat and add sherry or madeira to the pan. Lower the heat on the stove and continue cooking. Add cooked zucchini and cook down until the alcohol has evaporated another 3-5 minutes or so.
- Add the onions and peas to the broccoli and carrots. Turn off the heat and let the mushroom mixture cool. Cut the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces, about 1-inch cubes and add to vegetables. Then add the mushrooms and zucchini to bowl.
For the Velouté
- Start by making a blonde roux. Melt the butter in a clean large sauté pan over medium heat. When butter is melted, add flour slowly while whisking vigorously to remove and chunks. Cook until you have a Dijon-mustard-like color, not brown. As you continue to whisk, stir in the chicken stock and add 3 healthy pinches of salt. Your velouté should be a silky texture that coats the side of the pan and shows the tracks of your whisk.
- Add 3 hearty dashes of hot sauce, Dijon mustard, and black pepper and stir. Then pour/scrape into your large mixing bowl with the chicken and vegetables.
- Mix all ingredients together so that every piece is covered with sauce. Adjust seasoning if needed. Once ready, pour mixture into your baking dish and remove the pie crust from the fridge.
- Top the dish with the biscuit dough and use a pastry brush to coat the top with the melted butter. Sprinkle with finishing salt and put into the center of the oven. Bake for about 20 minutes. Check the pot pie and continue to cook in 10-minute increments until the biscuit dough has risen and is be golden brown. Serve with cranberry relish.
- For the cranberry relish, combine the cranberries, sugar, brandy, and cinnamon in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Zest and the orange into cranberries. For easy removal of the cloves, stick them into half of the orange and drop into relish. When the sugar has melted and the alcohol’s evaporated remove the orange and the cinnamon and serve with the pot pie. Can be served warm or room temperature.
- To simplify this recipe you can skip the biscuit dough, and purchase pre-made puff pastry to top your pot pie.
- Oven temperature will vary. If your oven runs cooler, then you will need more time to cook the biscuit, possibly up to double the time as a true-temp calibrated oven. If your oven does run cooler, you may want to increase the amount of veloute that you make for the filling so that it doesn’t dry out with the longer cooking time. I suggest increasing the recipe by half.
- If using pearl onions that are fresh instead of frozen, you should par-cook them before adding to the vegetable mixture. Large onions should be cut in half.
- For the biscuit crust, you want to make sure the cold butter and cold buttermilk are kept in the fridge until you need to use them.
- When measuring the flour for the biscuit dough, be sure to level the measuring cups before including in mixture.
- Zucchini has a lot of water, so be sure the liquid is evaporated before it’s combined with the others.