A cold winter evening was the perfect opportunity to try out a healthified chicken pie recipe. Read on to hear about how it turned out and what happened when disaster struck during a crucial step in the recipe!
Most chicken pies are delicious comfort food, but are also laden with heavy pastry crusts full of trans fats and other things that this nutritional gatekeeper says no to! This particular recipe substitutes that with a sweet potato whole-wheat biscuit topping, and comes courtesy of Greta and Janet Podleski from Eat, Shrink and Be Merry.
To get started, veggies were sliced, diced, and sautéed with a bit of olive oil. Baby carrots and frozen peas also joined the pot, but creamed corn wasn’t used. As a veggie lover, the amount of each was definitely greater than called for!
Meanwhile, my expert sous chef was preparing the buttermilk for the biscuit topping, which was actually based on unsweetened almond milk due to some recent dietary changes.
Back to the pot! Chicken broth and seasoning were added next:
Then cooked chicken was added (we defrosted cooked chicken breast, but the recipe calls for buying a rotisserie chicken to get a mixture of white and dark meat) along with grated Swiss cheese.
At this point, I realized that I had forgotten to add the condensed milk/flour mixture which was supposed to be added before the chicken. In a bit of a panic, I called out to my sous chef to quickly add that mixture he had also earlier prepared. In the chaos of the moment, he accidentally added the buttermilk which was reserved for the biscuit!! Immediately the mistake was realized but the damage had already been done…
We stared at the pot dramatically and wondered if all our hard work had gone to waste. Surely we had to rectify this, as we couldn’t yield a disaster on our first attempt for the food blog! Mr. Sous Chef set out to remake the buttermilk while I attempted to salvage the now much too liquidy contents of the pot by adding (probably too much) cornstarch. (Tip from my mother: don’t directly add cornstarch to the pot as it won’t dissolve well. Instead, remove a small amount of the liquid in a cup and add cornstarch to that. Once dissolved, put this back in the pot to thicken the mixture. Thanks mom!).
At this point we were charging forward with fingers crossed things would turn out. The pot was removed from heat, covered, and set aside while we tackled the biscuit topping.
Earlier in the day, I had cooked a large yam (400 degrees for about an hour, poked and wrapped in tin foil) so just had to scoop out one cup worth to add to the buttermilk (take 2) and a small amount of melted butter for the biscuit.
This was then mixed with white and whole-wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. The dough seemed extremely wet to me, so I added more flour and attempted to roll it out as instructed but it was sticking to everything!
Meanwhile, as you see above, my sous chef had put the chicken veggie mixture into two casserole dishes. The recipe calls for 8 individual ramekins, but we were lacking these (wedding registry idea?!) so improvised with the larger dishes.
At this point, I was supposed to put a nicely rolled-out biscuit topping on the chicken veggie mixture, but it was still not holding together so I basically threw it on there Play-doh style, trying to achieve even coverage, but certainly not earning many points for aesthetics. Melted butter was brushed on top and they were ready for the 400 degree oven!
After approximately 30 minutes, a delicious smell wafted over the kitchen and a golden brown crust confirmed it was almost time to eat! However, I was dismayed that the biscuit hadn’t risen much at all. I was expecting a luscious flaky topping, but it was more of a harder crust… Probably related to it being too wet (or not using real buttermilk which contains substantially more fat than almond milk)… So take note if you try this out!
After letting it stand for five minutes, it was time to dig in!
The verdict? A delicious hearty meal which was enjoyed by both myself and the sous chef (who had a particular love for the dense topping). The filling turned out well despite the near-disastrous substitution, and was full of flavour and seemed very rich even though it was made with exclusively healthy ingredients. (See, another win for the nutritional gatekeeper!). We both thought it could use a little salt though, so would probably add that if we made it again. In the end, although I was disappointed by the lack of loft in the topping, it worked by providing a nice crunch on top and softer doughy texture to enjoy inside.
And one of the best parts? LOTS of leftovers, which we are big fans of.
Would I make it again? Probably, but likely with a few additions/changes as previously noted.
Hungry? Come on over for a serving of Starvin’ Guy Chicken Pie – our fridge is full!!